We have three days of fabulous racing ahead of us now at Aintree and I’ll be providing a preview for each day together with a runner-by-runner guide for the big race itself. That should be finalised on Thursday evening once we know the 48-hour declarations so stay tuned for that.
Thursday has some top quality racing with some familiar faces from Cheltenham together with a few who have been rested and saved for this.
1.45 Manifesto Novices Chase
A tricky novice chase to get us started and all the talk has been about LA BAGUE AU ROI who is undoubtedly good quality and gets a weight allowance as a mare against the geldings here. I was tempted to side with Glen Forsa who I tipped for the Arkle when he fell early on and I do expect him to run well but the form of La Bague Au Roi’s win at Kempton at Christmas has taken a big boost and she has been nicely rested for this. I think Dickie Johnson will send her off out in front and she will be hard to pass with her stamina confirmed.
2:20pm Doom Bar Juvenile Hurdle
I tipped BAND OF OUTLAWS in the Fred Winter at Cheltenham and was very impressed with his win. He looks like he could be top class and although Pentland Hills won the Triumph Hurdle I’m not sure that the standard was as good in that race after Sir Erec was fatally injured. I think better than even money for Band of Outlaws is decent value here.
2.50pm Aintree Bowl
This could prove to be a really good race between a nice group of grade 1 horses who all have one or two small question marks over their heads. There is very little between Bristol De Mai, Kemboy, Clan Des Obeaux and my selection who is ROAD TO RESPECT. His run in the Ryanair was decent despite a poor jump at the third last which wasn’t ideal and crucially he was running at least 3 or 4 wide the whole way round. He wasn’t beaten far and I think this trip should suit him perfectly. Frankly, I think any of the top 4 can win it and he is the best price of the four so is the sensible bet for me.
3.25pm Aintree Hurdle
This is a fascinating one with Champion Hurdle faller Buveur D’Air looking to make amends and Faugheen and Supasundae dropping back in trip after the Stayers Hurdle. Given the prices, there are question marks over all of the horses at the top of the market. Will Buveur D’Air make another jumping error? Is Faugheen past it? Can Supasundae regain his best form? Will Melon stay 2.5 miles? Supasundae is probably the one from those four that I think is ok value because the 3 miles at Cheltenham is too far for him and he will enjoy this. I am taking a chance though on CH’TIBELLO who won the County Hurdle very well at Cheltenham and if he can replicate that form I think he can go close at a nice big price here.
4.05pm Foxhunters Chase
This is a real spectacle with the famous grand national fences in play for the first time over the weekend and the amateur jockeys trying to get their horses safely round. I went with UCELLO CONTI in the Foxhunters at Cheltenham and I think he was perhaps slightly further back in the field than was ideal that day and although he ran into a place he couldn’t get to the leaders. He has plenty of experience of these fences (unseating his rider twice in two Grand Nationals admittedly) and that will stand him in good stead. It looks like Jamie Codd will take the ride again which is ideal given his quality as an amateur and I think he will go very close.
4.40pm Red Rum Handicap Chase
A very competitive handicap run over two miles here and they will go a fair old pace I suspect. The class horse for me is DIEGO DU CHARMIL but that is no surprise because he carries top weight. His winning course and distance form from last year’s festival in the novice chase is ideal and he has been saved for this race by his connections rather than go to Cheltenham. He is a nice double figure price and I expect to see him involved at the finish and hopefully, he can defy top weight to win.
5.15pm Mares Bumper
As always this bumper race for mares looks to be very competitive. I won’t be going mad on this race but I like the form of TIMETOCHILL’s win at Huntingdon in December. There were a few previous and subsequent winners in behind her that day particularly Silverforever from the Nicholls yard and I think she may be overpriced because of her trainer’s relatively low profile so she is worth a small each-way interest.
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