IT'S a huge Saturday of racing with the pick of the action coming from Aintree and Sandown.
BLAKLION jumped for fun when landing last year’s Randox Health Becher Handicap Chase at Aintree with considerable ease and a repeat performance looks on the cards given his ability to handle heavy ground.
He had nine lengths to spare over The Last Samurai 12 months ago and was well-touted for the Grand National. His backers didn’t get a run for their money, however, as Blaklion was brought down at the first fence but his fourth to One For Arthur the previous year was a terrific effort as he travelled like the winner before fading between the final two obstacles.
GIVING GLANCES is the safest option in the Listed fillies’ juvenile hurdle. Alan King has an exceptional record with these young horses and Giving Glances, a decent handicapper on the Flat, made a very pleasing introduction over obstacles with a 16 lengths romp at Hereford last month. Gordon Elliott’s Smiling Eliza is a model of consistency but her best form has come on a sounder surface.
You cannot fault WARRIORS TALE for consistency and he may get his reward in the Grand Sefton Handicap Chase. Three wins and half-a dozen places in chases tells its own story and he was beaten only a neck by Gold Present at Newbury before a head defeat to Wakanda in the Sky Bet Chase at Doncaster. Testing ground isn’t a problem and there are no stamina concerns over this 2m 5f trip.
LALOR can provide Kayley Woolacott with another big-race scalp in the Henry VIII Novices’ Chase after thumping Dynamite Dollars at Cheltenham’s November fixture. That win came on good ground but Lalor handled soft when beating Vision Des Flos in a Grade 1 hurdle at Aintree last season.
APPLE’S SHAKIRA has a bit to prove after a couple of disappointing efforts at Cheltenham and Aintree last season. Carrying the JP McManus colours, he could manage only a laboured fourth to Farclas in the JCB Triumph Hurdle in March.
Henderson reached for a hood at Aintree and although Apple’s Shakira was again sent off a warm favourite, he was a well-beaten third to stablemate We Have A Dream. He had earlier looked something special when racking up a hat-trick on soft ground and this drop into handicap company can see him return to the winners’ enclosure.
There will be no prisoners taken in the Betfair London Marathon and RED INFANTRY looks up for a battle after scoring over today’s 3m 4f distance at Haydock a fortnight ago. He idled in front, which allowed Bishops Road to close, and was good value for a few more lengths.