Tom Lee's Grand National Festival Tips Day 2: Two Massive Priced Winners Can Steal The Day At Aintree

Ordinarily you'd have to go some to top an opening installment which gave us the brilliance of Annie Power and Cue Card, but yesterday's Aintree highlights could be eclipsed by a Ladies' Day card heaving with quality, as four Grade 1 events are staged in tandem with the Topham Chase on a sellout day in Liverpool.

The weather has also been kind, with a dry day forecast as the going has been altered to Soft (Good to Soft in places) on the National and Hurdles courses, while it's Good to Soft (Soft in places) on the Mildmay track.

Favourite backers got off to a decent start on Thursday, hitting the bullseye with the aforementioned duo as well as On The Fringe, and they've got a cracking chance to collect with Ma Du Fou in the opener today.

The winner of the listed Sidney Banks Novices' Hurdle at Huntingdon last time out, he lines up in the 2m 4f Handicap Hurdle at 1.40pm a fresh horse, having purposely bypassed Cheltenham in order to target this race.

He looks a tempting each way bet with his trainer, Warren Greatrex, remaining among the winners.

Next up, eye-catching Cheltenham winner Limini is bound to be all the rage in the Grade 1 Novices Hurdle (2.15pm), but she has a bit more on her plate against the boys today and rather than back her at cramped odds, one that could get involved at huge odds is the Dan Skelton-trained North Hill Harvey.

A winner at Cheltenham pre-Christmas, ironically he chased home Ma Du Fou at Huntingdon, before running a cracker at 25/1 in the Supreme Novices' Hurdle last month where a mistake two out cost him his chance.

A similar run today minus the error and a huge shock could be on the cards.

Speaking of shocks, what about Otago Trail in the third race of the day, the 3m 1f Mildmay Novices' Chase (2.50pm)?

Joint top-rated on a mark of 154, he's the outsider of eight despite having won two of his four starts over fences.

What's more, he's the only one in the field who didn't take part at Cheltenham, choosing instead to come here with ample petrol in the tank.

Consider the hard races the likes of Blaklion and Ballyalton had only three or so weeks ago and you have to wonder if they can back that form up?

No such concerns apply to Otago Trial, and he looks significantly overpriced.

Finally, the three mile Doom Bar Sefton Novices' Hurdle is the last of the Grade 1's scheduled to head to post at 4.40pm.

Ballydine, trained by Charlie Longsdon and owned by Aintree racecourse Director Alan Halsall, is bound to be popular following a corker of a run behind Barters Hill at Doncaster last time out.

He looks highly likely to play a lead role, but at significantly longer odds one who could also get involved is the Willie Mullins-trained Balko Des Flos.

The choice of Bryan Cooper who could also have picked either Gangster or Arkwrisht, this fella ran out of gas late on in the Albert Bartlett at Cheltenham, but that's a much more searching, demanding track than Aintree, where the increased reliance on speed could be much more to his liking.

An impressive winner of his maiden at Punchestown, Balko Des Flos could easily find his way into the frame.

Good luck!


Today's best bets at Aintree:

1.40 - Alder Hey Children's Charity Handicap Hurdle - 11 Ma Du Fou (each way)

2.15 - Imagine Cruising First In The Frame Top Novices' Hurdle - 8 North Hill Harvey (each way)

2.50 - Betfred Mildmay Novices' Chase - 5 Otago Trail (each way)

4.40 -  Doom Bar Sefton Novices' Hurdle - 3 Balko Des Flos (each way)