With the Festival only ten days away we are treated by a host of interesting pointers to the Grand National and the remaining season ahead. The National hero Ballabriggs returns at Kelso (4.10) to the race where he finished second last year on his way to winning at Aintree; Junior the Festival and Royal Ascot winner has his first outing over fences this season where he will be battling the impressive West End Rocker (ground allowing) at Doncaster in the Grimthorpe (3.25); and there are old favourites galore in the veterans chase at Newbury. If you have a national fancy Crockford’s advice is back it before the off today – you will not get the value that is available this morning this evening – Ballabriggs and Junior both 16/1 for the Grand National

This afternoon’s Greatwood Gold Cup (Newbury 3.10) has particularly attracted my attention – Neil Mullholland’s Mad Max looks a very interesting proposition. Mad Max has won all of his three starts at Newbury and has the form to beat the rest on his day. In this race – quality will rise to the top – on form Woolcombe Folly, Dave’s Dream and Mad Max stand out. Perhaps its mad, perhaps its folly or even a dream but how about a combination forecast?

Crockford’s Dead Cert – Aland Islands (Doncaster 4.00)
This Tim Vaughan Welsh runner positively jumped off the cards today. Unbeaten and holding a Neptune entry at the Festival should cast the others adrift – Hills currently quote Aland Islands at 50/1 for the Neptune take it now it will not be there later

Crockford’s Whisper – Grey Soldier (Navan 4.05)
Grey Soldier is rated 130 over hurdles and the whispers say he is bound to win over fences soon. He has not liked the ground in his recent outings and with Davy Russell on board he is bound to give a good showing for Gordon Elliott at a good price – certainly worth considering at about 10/1 for a each way punt

Today’s Crockford’s gambles around the courses:

Lingfield – Cockney Sparrow (3.20), Nelson’s Bounty (3.55) and News Desk (5.05)
Kelso – Absinthe (1.05), Maggio (2.30) and Captain Conan (3.35)
Doncaster – Five Star Wilsham (2.05), Junior (3.25) and Aland Islands (4.00)
Newbury – Niche Market (2.40), Mad Max (3.10), Balgarry (3.45) and Accordingtolawrence (4.20)
Navan – Grey Soldier (4.05)