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Four dark horses who could outrun their odds at the Grand National meeting

Jury Duty: Gordon Elliott star has interesting Grand National claims
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One of the features of the three-day Randox Health Grand National meeting is that so many Cheltenham Festival winners return in a bid to follow up. That means there can be some value to be found with horses at bigger prices. Here are four dark horses who could give the big names plenty to think about at Aintree 


Christopher Wood
Doom Bar Anniversary 4YO Juvenile Hurdle (2.25)

The clash between surprise Triumph Hurdle winner Pentland Hills and Band Of Outlaws, who shrugged off a big weight to land the Fred Winter at Cheltenham, has been billed as one of the most eagerly awaited races of the meeting. 

Christopher Wood does the business in style

But trainer Paul Nicholls has kept Flat recruit Christopher Wood away from the bright lights, clocking up easy wins at Fontwell and Newbury. 

Nicholls already has Christopher Wood qualified for the £100,000 handicap at Sandown on April 28 so it is interesting he feels it worth a try at this Grade 1 prize.


Merseyrail Handicap Hurdle (1.45)

There are dark horses and then there are those having their first run in Britain after an absence of 700 days. 

Neither of those might seem obvious factors to recommend Kobrouk but he was a very talented horse when trained by Guillaume Macaire in France, finishing second in two Grade 1 chases for four-year-olds at Auteuil, including when being narrowly beaten by So French, who went on to win a pair of French Gold Cups (the Grand Steeple-Chase de Paris). 

Nicky Henderson has had to be extremely patient since Kobrouk's arrival at Seven Barrows but he could have looked for something much easier than this, suggesting he has been quietly pleased with what he has seen of late. 

Chris's Dream
Betway Mildmay Novices' Chase (2.50)

This is a horse who was sent off at just 6-1 for the Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle at the 2018 Cheltenham Festival, and although he finished ninth that day he always had the profile of a novice chaser to follow this season.

Trainer Henry de Bromhead resisted the temptation of going to Cheltenham last month and brings a fresh horse who has won two of his three starts over fences, including the Grade 3 Ten Up Novice Chase at Navan.

Chris's Dream and Rachael Blackmore on their way to winning the Ten Up Novice Chase at Navan

That performance suggests stamina is his forte and it would be no surprise to see him back at Aintree in the Grand National in years to come. 

He could face fierce competition from RSA Chase winner Topofthegame, as well as JLT runner up Lostintranslation, but up that long Aintree straight nothing will be staying on better.


Jury Duty
Randox Health Grand National (5.15)

The build-up to this year's big race has been dominated by Tiger Roll but he is not the only Grand National winner lurking among Gordon Elliott's huge team. 

The 2018 Irish Grand National hero General Principle hasn't been in the best form this season but stablemate Jury Duty – a winner of the American National over hurdles at Far Hills in Maryland last October – is an altogether different proposition. 

Elliott has kept him fresh since his transatlantic jaunt, giving him one winning run at Down Royal last month to put him spot on for this very different test. 

Jury Duty was a good novice last season and has valuable big handicap experience – he finished third in the Galway Plate – while 2007 Grand National-winning jockey Robbie Power has been booked.

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That performance suggests stamina is his forte and it would be no surprise to see him back at Aintree in the Grand National in years to come
E.W. Terms