Top 2022 Grand National Festival Picks, April 7-9, 2022

| April 7, 2022 12:42 pm PDT

First run more than 180 years ago, the English Grand National Handicap Chase this year will be seen by an estimated 600 million sudden steeple chase fans.

That’s right: As with America’s Kentucky Derby, people who wouldn’t consider going to a horse race will find a way to watch the Grand National.

Unlike flat track horse racing, steeple chase demands a variety of skills from both the riders and the horses. This is truly a competition where the race is not always to the swift—although it helps to be speedy while you’re leaping fences and ditches on your way to the finish line.

Don’t forget to review the full race cards for all three days of National Hunt races at one of our top online racebooks.

Thursday – Liverpool’s NHS Day

This is the first day of the three-day Aintree Grand National Festival. Thursday is a tribute to the National Health Service’s work during the pandemic. Aintree expects up to 35,000 punters and National Hunt fans to fill the stands to enjoy seven graded races. I’ve selected the top four for our wagering pleasure.

Manifesto Novices’ Steeple Chase (Grade 1)

This is a two-mile, four-furlong race for five-year-olds and up. It features a £100,000 purse.

Despite the fact that in the past twelve years, only one favorite has won this grueling race, I’m putting my money on Pic D’Orhy, ridden by Harry Cobden.

Trained by Paul Nicholls for owner Mrs. Johnny de la Hey, this seven-year-old gelding has won six of his 19 National Hunt races. Most recently, he finished first in a field of five at Kempton Park in Surrey in a two-mile, four furlong, 110-yard chase.

Anniversary 4-Y-O Juvenile Hurdle (Grade 1)

This is a two-mile, one-furlong race for four-year-olds and features a £100,000 purse.

I’m betting the heavily-favored Pied Piper, with Davy Russell in the irons. This four-year-old gelding won three of his 14 races, including two of his most recent three hurdles—one at Punchestown at the end of December, and another at Cheltenham in late January.

Pied Piper is trained by Gordon Elliott for owner Caldwell Construction Ltd.

Betway Bowl Steeple Chase (Grade 1)

This is a three-mile, one-furlong race for five-year-olds and up. It features a £150,000 purse.

I like the second-favored Conflated (at 4/1), piloted by Davy Russell.

This eight-year-old gelding has won six of his 23 National Hunt races, including two of his most recent three—a two-and-a-half-mile chase at Navan Racecourse near Dublin in December and a three-mile, 61-yard chase at Leopardstown Racecourse in February.

Gordon Elliott trains Conflated for Gigginstown House Stud.

Aintree Hurdle (Grade 1)

This is a two-mile, four-furlong race for four-year-olds and up. It features a £250,000 purse.

I like the second-favored Epatante (at 2/1), with Aidean Coleman aboard.

This eight-year-old mare won eight of her 13 chases, including a two-mile, 46-yard chase at Newcastle in November and a two-miler at Kempton in December.

Epatante is trained by N.J. “Nicky” Henderson for John P McManus.

Friday – Randdox Ladies Day

Friday is always Ladies Day at the Grand National Festival, so if you’re attending, expect glamor, beauty, and big hats—all offering major competition to the horses and riders competing in seven races (one bumper, there hurdles, and three chases). Again, I’ve picked the top fur to assess for winners.

Top Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 1)

This is a two-mile, ½-furlong race for four-year-olds and up. It features a £100,000 purse.

While this 24-horse race has a number of impressive starters, I’m backing A Different Kind, ridden by Brian Hughes.

This five-year-old gelding won five of his six National Hunt races. Note that he’s also cross-entered in the Lydiate Handicap Hurdle later on Friday’s card.

A Different Kind is trained by Donald McCain Jr. for owner Dene Rowe.

Mildmay Novices’ Chase (Grade 1)

This is a three-mile, one-furlong race for five-year-olds and up, and features a £120,000.

This is a very talented field of 13, but I’m seeing this race going to L’Homme Presse. While this seven-year-old gelding’s jockey had not been named for this race at the time of this writing, it’s likely that he’ll have Charlie Deutsch aboard, just has he has for his last five chases.

**<L’Homme Presse image (horse on right, if you need to crop): https://www.cityam.com/app/uploads/2022/03/GettyImages-1362214294.jpg  >**

L’ Homme Presse won six of his nine national hunt races, five with Deutsch in the irons.

Venetia Williams trains L’ Homme Presse for DFA Racing.

Marsh Chase (registered as the Melling Chase) (Grade 1)

This is a two-mile, four-furlong race for five-year-olds and up, and features a £250,000 purse. for this race I like Royal Rendezvous for reasons that will soon be obvious.

The ten-year-old gelding won eight of his 15 National Hunt races. Many of his wins were with David Mullins in the irons, but—if Wikipedia is to be believed—he retired from National Hunt racing a year ago last January. Which is odd, because he’s been aboard Royal Rendezvous in three chases since then, winning two of them.

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say there’s a chance he’ll be in the irons on this run, as well.

National Hunt legend Willie Mullins (jockey David Mullins’ uncle) trains Royal Rendezvous for Dr S. P. Fitzgerald.

Sefton Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 1)

This is a three-mile, ½-furlong race for four-year-olds and up, and features a £100,000 purse.

This is my no-brainer of the day: I’m calling this one for Skytastic. No jockey named as of this writing, but Charlie Deutsch saddled Skytastic for his two most recent runs.

This six-year-old gelding won all four of his National Hunt races including his first two bumpers and his more recent hurdle races.

Former National Hunt jockey Sam Thomas trains Skytastic for owner Walters Plant Hire Ltd.

Saturday – Grand National Day

This is it, the big day. Seven more National Hunt races, highlighted by the £1,000,000 Grand National Handicap Chase. Millions are expected to watch these final seven races on televisions, laptops, and smartphones, but Aintree expects thousand more to pack the stands to see the best jumpers in the world perform their magic.

Mersey Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 1)

This is a two-mile, four-furlong race for four-year-olds and up. It features a £100,000 purse.

In this 23-horse chase, there are several outstanding talents, but one steals the spotlight: Jonbon. No jockey named, but he’s had Aiden Coleman aboard for his last four races.

This six-year-old gelding won four of his five National Hunt races, finishing second only his most recent race, the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 1) at Cheltenham in March.

Jonbon is trained by N. J. “Nicky” Henderson for owner John P. McManus.

Important note: Skytastic is cross-entered in this race, and if he starts this hurdle rather than the Sefton Novices’ Hurdle on Friday, ignore my first choice for this race and instead bet Skytastic to win.

Maghull Novices’ Chase (Grade 1)

This is a two-mile race for five-year-olds and up, and it features a £120,000 purse.

With a nine-horse field, this should be a tight race. The real standout is Edwardstone. No jockey named at the time of this writing, but he’s been piloted by Tom Cannon his last five victories.

This eight-year-old gelding won eight of his 19 National Hunt races, including his last five. His most recent victory was in the Arkle Challenge Trophy Novices’ Chase (Grade 1) at Cheltenham in March.

Alan King trains Edwardstone for owners Robert Abrey and Ian Thurtle.

Liverpool Hurdle (Grade 1)

This is a three-mile, ½-furlong race for four-year-olds and up, and it features a £250,000 purse.

In this ten-horse race I’m betting on Thyme Hill. No jockey named as yet, but Tom O’Brien has been in the irons for his last four races.

This eight-year-old gelding won six of his last 13 National Hunt races. He notably placed second in both the Stayers’ Hurdle (Grade 1) at Cheltenham in March and the Long Walk Hurdle (Grade 1) at Ascot in December.

Thyme Hill is trained by P J Hobbs for owners The Englands and Heywoods.

Grand National Handicap Chase (Grade 3)

This is a four-mile, 2-½ furlongs race, and features a £1,000,000 purse.

How do you pick a winner from a 73-horse list of possibles? Squinting helps. Just kidding. The actual entries won’t be made official until Thursday. I’m picking the three most likely to succeed and noting them here, in order of my preference.

First Choice: Mount Ida. No jockey named as yet, but Davy Russell and Jack Kennedy have evenly split those duties for her most recent six races.

This eight-year-old mare won six of her 14 National Hunt races, including the T.A. Morris Memorial Irish EBF Mares Chase (Listed) at Clonmel Racecourse in November and the John & Chich Fowler Memorial EBF Mares Chase (Grade 3) at Fairyhouse Racecourse in January.

Gordon Elliott trains Mount Ida for KTDA Racing.

First Alternate: Two For Gold. No jockey named, but David Bass has been in the irons for his last seven races.

This nine-year-old gelding won nine of his 21 National Hunt races, including the Handicap Chase at Doncaster Racecourse in December and the Fleur De Lys Chase at Lingfield Park Racecourse in January.

Kim Bailey trains Two For Gold for May We Never Be Found Out Partnership.

Second Alternate: Snow Leopardess. No jockey named. She’s had a variety of top-level jockeys in the irons, with Aiden Coleman her most frequent flyer over the past 14 months

This ten-year-old mare won nine of her 19 National Hunt races, including her three most recent. Her last race was the three-mile, 54-yard Mares’ Chase (Listed) at Exeter in February.

Snow Leopardess is trained by Charlie Longsdon for owner Andrew Fox-Pitt.

Want to get another perspective on the Grand National? Here’s where to look:

Odds and Predictions for the 2022 Grand National

Spring is in full swing, so it’s time to talk about betting on the 2022 Grand National! All stages are set for the big one Saturday, April 9, from Aintree. As the excitement grows for the main event, everyone and their dog will be looking for tips for...

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J.W. Paine
J.W. Paine

J.W. Paine is one of the most experienced writers at GamblingSites.com. He's written for television and the printed media, and is a published novelist (as Tom Elliott).

Paine loves writing about Las Vegas nearly as much he loves living here. An experienced gambler, he's especially familiar with thoroughbred horseracing, poker, blackjack, and slots.

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