Who needs Cheltenham? These six likely horses are primed for Aintree instead | Horse Racing News

Aintree’s Grand National festival starts on Thursday

John Grossick (racingpost.com/photos)

Aintree is the second of the three big spring festivals and as a pan-flat track with a very long home straight it could not be a more different test to Cheltenham, for all that both courses are left-handed. Here we look at six of the most interesting runners who skipped Cheltenham in order to come to Aintree fresh.

2.20 Thursday, Doom Bar Anniversary 4-Y-O Juvenile Hurdle

The Paul Nicholls-trained juvenile skipped Cheltenham, where his form received a boost. He beat both Nassalam and Elham Valley, tenth and third respectively in the Fred Winter, by further than Triumph Hurdle runner-up Adagio managed in the Grade 1 Finale.

Monmiral: set for a first Grade 1 assignment at Aintree

David Davies (Pool /Getty Images)

Nicholls did not even enter the horse for Cheltenham, comparing him to Frodon and Clan Des Obeaux and insisting he is a chaser in the making, and Aintree would suit his development far more than the Triumph.

Clan Des Obeaux
2.50 Thursday, Betway Bowl Chase

Speaking of Clan Des Obeaux, the dual King George winner is another part-owned by Sir Alex Ferguson who skipped the festival to wait for Aintree. It is almost as if the famous Manchester United manager still values victories in Liverpool above all else.

Clan Des Obeaux: two-time King George winner has been saved for Aintree

Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos)

He had disappointed in two Gold Cups, while as a second-season chaser he missed Cheltenham and produced a then career-best when third to Might Bite in the Bowl – the race he targets here.

Waiting Patiently
2.50 Thursday, Betway Bowl Chase

Waiting Patiently finished one place in front of Clan Des Obeaux in this season’s King George and is another who skipped Cheltenham, a track at which he has never run.

Waiting Patiently (left): finished second to Frodon in the King George and is set for the Betway Bowl

Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos)

He has only been to Aintree once, when 29 lengths third to Min and Politologue in the 2019 Melling Chase, but First Flow arguably gave the Clarence House form a boost in the Champion Chase and the step back up in trip should play more to his strengths. 

3.25 Thursday, Betway Aintree Hurdle

McFabulous was always a prime candidate for skipping the festival and focusing on Aintree. Not only has he disappointed at Cheltenham in the past, but he won the 2019 edition of the Grade 2 bumper and, perhaps even more importantly, seems a specialist at the intermediate trip of around two and a half miles. That is catered for at Grade 1 level at the Grand National meeting, but not at Prestbury Park.

McFabulous (centre) has strong form behind Paisley Park and Thyme Hill earlier this season

Alan Crowhurst (Getty Images)

He may have been mixing it with the likes of Thyme Hill and Paisley Park over staying trips, but his Relkeel win and National Spirit second to Brewin’upastorm, who also skipped Cheltenham and reopposes here on 6lb worse terms for a five and a half length victory, very much suggests this is his trip. 

5.15 Thursday, Goffs UK Nickel Coin Mares’ Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race

Pam Sly knows she has a good horse in Eileendover and is minding her accordingly. Consequently she gave the horse a month off after her Market Rasen win, which meant Cheltenham came too soon, and she has fully signed up to the old adage of keeping one’s horses in the worst company as she will contest the mares’ bumper.

Eileendover: could be short in the betting for the Mares’ National Hunt Flat race at Aintree


Given she is widely regarded as the best bumper horse in Britain that may be overkill as she would surely have every chance in the open Grade 2, but equally she will be one of the shortest prices of the week.

Grand National card and betting

Cloth Cap
5.15 Saturday, Randox Grand National Handicap Chase

Even if Cloth Cap, a horse officially a stone well in, had gone to Cheltenham it would not have changed the number of races Britain and Trevor Hemmings won as his target was the Ultima, won by the owner’s Vintage Clouds.

Cloth Cap: a stone well in for the Grand National after win at Kelso


It is hard to believe Sue Smith’s admirable 11-year-old could have been as well treated as Cloth Cap and as close to a festival good thing as you are going to get may be hard to resist for many, but for Hemmings the National has always come first.

He has won it three times already, with Hedgehunter in 2005, Ballabriggs in 2011 and four years later with Many Clouds. Can Cloth Cap make it four?

Read more on the 2021 Grand National festival:

Watering to begin on Monday as dry forecast poses challenges

O’Leary: Tiger Roll goes to Aintree and there will be no humble pie if he wins

Song For Someone to face top-class rivals in Aintree Hurdle next Thursday

Evan Williams turns to James Bowen for Grand National ride on Secret Reprieve

O’Neill confident about Cloth Cap’s chances but his price is ‘crackers’

Another Papillon? Ted Walsh-trained Any Second Now primed for Grand National bid

Check out the Racing Post Grand National microsite for the latest tips and odds for the big race. The best Grand National betting advice and exclusive free betting offers all in one place.



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