>>>> The Grand National Festival gets underway today and there’s only one story on everyone lips. Yes, you guessed it, it’s the launch of our Aintree Naps Competition. Obviously I’m fully aware that it’s not the biggest story of the day, but I’m contractually to say that it is, so just run with it. We’re giving away daily prizes and one whopping overall prize for whoever proves to be the best tipper over the 3 days of the Aintree Festival, so if you fancy yourself as a bit of a know-it-all, why not give it a go? Or apply to be middle-management in Paddy Power.Paddy Power
Yes, I will endorse anything as long as I get paid for it. But I draw the line at knives for toddlers. Wait a second – are those knives recycled? Sign me up.
>>>> The Festival kicks off with the Liverpool Hurdle where Big Bucks will try to fend off the challenges of the ever-improving Grands Crus and Carlo Brigante. Gordon Elliot, trainer of Carlo Brigante doesn’t sound overly confident of upsetting the big 2 in the betting, but he left the door open for success by not totally ruling it out – “It’s a big ask and I’m not saying he’ll ever be good enough to beat the top two, but he’s going the right way and he’s entitled to be there.” Racing Post (ye olde fashioned print edition)
>>>> The final declarations are in and now we know who exactly will be trying to combine speed, stamina, jumping ability and pure dumb luck to win the Grand National. Northern Alliance, Our Monty and Roll Along are three horses who have pulled out at the 48 hour decs stage and their misfortune is to the benefit of Skippers Brig, Royal Rosa and Golden Kite who scrap into the 40 runner field. As expected, defending champion, Don’t Push It heads the field and will carry top weight of 11st 10lbs – or to put it in simpler terms – one Jedward. The Irish Times
>>>> We haven’t mentioned King Fontaine much – or even at all – in our build-up to the Grand National, mainly because he’s a 50/1 shot for the race, but his jockey Denis O’Regan reckons he’s got a good chance of upsetting the odds. Being pulled up in a Grand National Trial at Haydock isn’t the most encouraging of stats, but O’Regan is writing that off due to the geologically dubious phenomena of “bottomless ground”. “He pulled up in the Grand National Trial at Haydock in February but it was on bottomless ground. He’s definitely a horse that goes better on better ground,” he explained before pointing out that performance at Cheltenham was a much more encouraging pointer. York Press
>>>> And finally, John Parrott is going to be a busy man this Saturday. After being the token Scouser on the BBC’s coverage of the Grand National, when the programme ends at 5pm he has to hot-foot it to Sheffield for the start of the Snooker Legends Tournament at the Crucible. We’re not even sure you can do that legally and Parrott is aware of the automotive challenge that lays ahead of him – “I’ve got a nice day lined up. I’m doing the Grand National for the BBC, finish at 5pm, then go like a scalded cat to Sheffield.” We are by no means endorsing the scalding of cats just to see how fast that actually is. Yorkshire Post