Racing Post tipster Robbie Wilders provides four each-way plays on the second day of the Grand National meeting at Aintree in his bid for a seventh straight profitable column.
Captain Conby @ 12/1
Playful Saint @ 12/1
Hullnback @ 15/2
No Looking Back @ 14/1
A large portion of the market for the 2m4f handicap hurdle (2.20) is consumed by horses who ran well at the Cheltenham Festival, and the runner to take out of that meeting with this race in mind is Captain Conby, who bagged sixth place in the Coral Cup.
The finishing position does not tell the full story as Captain Conby moved stylishly into the race, hitting an in-running low of 6/5, but tired in the soft ground on the stiff track.
There is every chance Captain Conby will improve for his first start in 74 days and off a 1lb lower mark, over a furlong shorter trip on a sharper course where he ran well at last season (fell two out in the Grade 1 Mersey Novices' Hurdle when booked to fight for a place), there is plenty to like.
The other I fancy, who did not warm up for this at Cheltenham, is Imperial Cup third Playful Saint, who continually shapes as if crying out for a longer trip.
Playful Saint gets that chance here after a career-best third over two-miles at Sandown, which was his first start of the year, and he makes plenty of appeal arriving here fresher than most for trainer Dan Skelton, who landed this last season with Langer Dan.
With just five starts to his name since 2019 and seven overall, this eight-year-old is lightly-raced and remains open to plenty of improvement.
I can't recall many more open two-mile novice hurdles than the Top Novices’ (2.55) and I’m pinning my hopes to two runners who arrive here slightly under the radar.
The first is Hullnback, whose novice hurdle defeat of proven Graded performer Nemean Lion at Haydock in the winter reads well.
Hullnback warmed up for this with a stylish success at Warwick that hinted at star potential and he has been there and done it at Aintree, filling the runner-up spot in the Grade 2 bumper here a year ago.
A five-and-a-half-year spell in the wilderness for trainer Fergal O’Brien in Grade 1s could be coming to an end and the trainer was amongst the day one winners here when Dysart Enos easily won the Grade 2 bumper.
The other is Irish raider No Looking Back, who entered my notebook when lowering the colours of Cheltenham Festival winner Brazil on just his second start over hurdles in a Grade 2 at Limerick in December in a match race.
No Looking Back proved that performance was no flash in the pan at Naas in March when making dual Grade 1-placed novice Irish Point fight harder than the market expected to land odds of 1/4.
This five-year-old can be marked up as he was conceding 9lb to the winner and came out best on Racing Post Ratings against a rival who is a shortish price for the 2m4f Grade 1 at Aintree on Saturday.
The fact No Looking Back's trainer Oliver McKiernan, a rare visitor to Aintree these days, saddled the 50-1 winner of the Bowl here in 2012 and has nailed three winners from his last five runners (including strikes at 16-1 and 18-1), only cements my confidence. He is surely overpriced at double-figure odds.