1pt win Fox Norton @4/1, 0.5pt each-way Josses Hill @14/1, 15:25 Aintree, Friday

Tea For Two and Lizzie Kelly continued our strong form by following up Vivlos’s 25/1 win at Meydan with an 18/1 success in the Grade 1 Bowl on the opening day of Aintree’s Grand National meeting.

There’s plenty of Grade 1 action on Friday’s card with the Melling Chase over two-and-a-half miles perhaps the day’s highlight.

Last year’s winner God’s Own benefited from the fall of the late Vautour before beating the same opponent in a Grade 1 at Punchestown Festival to confirm his class.

He loves Aintree and has been in good enough form this season to suggest another bold bid is imminent, but I’m keen to take him on with the new generation graduating out of novice company.

It’s certainly a talented generation with Douvan’s brilliance, Sizing John landing the Gold Cup and FOX NORTON going so close in the Champion Chase behind Special Tiara.

Fox Norton steps up in trip and runs here, and the way he finished off that Champion Chase certainly left the impression he wants the longer trip – particularly on quicker ground.

On form grounds I really fancy him, though he’s not been at his very best on flat tracks and I’d have to be a little worried this is a quick turnaround since Cheltenham, just three weeks ago.

That said, the turnaround comments also apply to God’s Own and Ryanair Chase second Sub Lieutenant, who put up a career best at Cheltenham to nearly catch the brilliant Un De Sceaux, and those two are the only opponents ahead of him in the market.

With no Un De Sceaux this time, Sub Lieutenant has a favourite’s chance but the bookies have seen him coming and I feel there’s little value in his 3/1 quote, having been busy racing since early October.

I just feel that Fox Norton’s younger legs – he’s seven – give him a better chance of running back-to-back blinders, and this is just his fifth start of the season after an injury sustained when winning at Cheltenham in mid-November enforced a three-month break.

Perhaps that enforced absence will be a blessing, so I’m keen to take some of the 4/1 that’s about.

Of the rest I can’t resist backing an old favourite JOSSES HILL each-way, given Tea For Two’s success on day one franked numerous pieces of his form – the two are closely matched as Josses Hill beat him over this trip at Huntingdon before getting outstayed to finish a couple of lengths behind him and Cue Card in the half-furlong-longer King George.

Three miles isn’t his trip, and he was stepped back to two-miles-five for a second tilt at the Ryanair, running okay but never getting near Un De Sceaux like Sub Lieutenant did.

His best form is on flat tracks and that Ryanair run was after an 80-day break, which asked its own question with the extra furlong asking another.

I’d expect that run together with the flat track and good ground to bring about some improvement, and there’s every chance a return to the form of his Huntingdon win would be sufficient to win this – it’d likely be good enough to place.

Considering it’s easy to pick holes in Traffic Fluide and Royal Regatta on class grounds, Kylemore Lough and Top Gamble believing they’d want it softer, and Uxizandre, who has a lot to find with many of these on his Ryanair showing, there’s not great depth behind the first three in the market and the each-way terms look tempting.

I’m not mad keen on backing two horses in a nine-runner race, but I’m making an exception.

1pt win Fox Norton @4/1, 15:25 Aintree, Friday
0.5pt each-way Josses Hill @14/1, 15:25 Aintree, Friday (1,2,3, 1/5)

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