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Weekend Review - Junior shines, but Grand National still wide open

Junior stars in Grimthorpe as Ballabriggs pleases McCain at Kelso

This weekend provided puntters with some vital clues for next month's Grand National and the main protagonists all produced pleasing efforts and will now head to the Aintree marathon on April 14 in fine fettle.

However, the one that caught the bookmakers' eyes was Junior, who was narrowly beaten in the Grimthorpe Chase at Doncaster.  The former Royal Ascot and Cheltenham Festival winner showed tremendous tenacity after the last fence, but couldn't quite get past Ikorodu Road, but it will now surely have his set fair for a crack at the Grand National in six weeks.

Meanwhile over at Kelso, reigning champion Ballabriggs was making his eagerly-anticipated return to the track in the Premier Chase and Donald McCain would've been buoyed by his stable star's performance.

Jumping the last fence upsides the three horses that eventually beat him, the 11-year-old just struggled to quicken up in the same style, but after an absence of over 10 months, he showed he still has the potential and will be fully tuned up for the Merseyside contest and is another not to be underestimated.

West End Rocker was sadly declared a non-runner, so punters we unable to see him in action, but Niche Market was another producing an eyecatching run and could now be heading to Aintree in what looks like a potential cracker.

Walsh produces masterclass on Aerial

Ruby Walsh produced a simply stunning ride aboard Aerial to win the Greatwood Gold Cup at Newbury on Saturday to show why he is one of the best in the business.

It had looked for all money that Conor O'Farrell would manage to hold on out in front aboard Dan Breen, but Walsh managed to cajole his mount and he duly stormed up the home straight to eventually take the contest by a short-head nailing David Pipe's runner on the line.

With the Cheltenham Festival only eight days away it just highlighted Walsh's ability in the saddle and he is certainly going to be tough to beat in the leading jockey betting over the four-day extravaganza.

One To Watch

Leanne notched up her second impressive victory at Leopardstown on Sunday and Bill Harney's raider could now be heading to the Cheltenham Festival and could be a lively player in the JLT Speciality Handicap Chase on the opening day of the meeting.

She will head to Prestbury Park in fine form and in what is surre to be a wide open affair could warrant a smidgen of each-way value at the 25/1 on offer with a few bookmakers.