Alan Thomson fancies the Irish to make a quick start at Aintree on Thursday
HOLD your breath for another top-quality renewal of the 2m 4f Betway Aintree Hurdle. Henry de Bromhead and Rachael Blackmore took Cheltenham by storm and JASON THE MILITANT (3.25) can deliver another knockout blow to home hopes.
He rewarded favourite backers with a comprehensive defeat of Petite Mouchoir at Fairyhouse 40 days ago, his first start since losing out in a blanket finish to Abacadabras and Saint Roi in a messy Morgiana Hurdle at Punchestown in November. Abacadabras crashed out at the third flight in the Champion Hurdle but further strengthens the Irish hand.
Former dual champion hurdler Buveur D’air boasts a brilliant Aintree record. He landed a Grade 1 novice hurdle here in 2016, returned to win this race 12 months later before chasing home Supasundae in 2019. It will be a very special feather in the cap of Nicky Henderson if he can bring him back from injury to re-capture those glory days but his comeback second to Navajo Pass at Haydock (heavy) was undoubtedly disappointing.
Evan Williams will be keeping his fingers crossed the track hasn’t been over-watered as Silver Streak is at his very best on a sound surface. Mcfabulous, winner of the 2019 Aintree bumper, was more than five lengths behind Brewin’upastorm at Fontwell but was conceding 6lb to the useful winner. This trip may bring out the best in him.
This year’s renewal of the Grade 1 Betway Bowl promises to be a cracking spectacle, with National treasure Tiger Roll tackling the Mildmay fences for the first time. CLAN DES OBEAUX (2.50) hasn’t quite recaptured the form of his electric victory in the 2019 King George at Kempton but the decision to swerve Cheltenham could prove a wise one by the Nicholls camp.
Native River was beaten 30 lengths into fourth in last month’s Cheltenham Gold Cup but has run well here in the past, thumping Black Corton in the 2019 Many Clouds Chase. Waiting Patiently, a brilliant novice, has had his career interrupted since at various stages but remains a very decent tool on a flat track, as demonstrated by his gallant second to Frodon in this season’s King George.
The 2m 5f Foxhunters’ Chase is another roller-coaster, with 23 runners charging down to the first of the Grand National fences. BILLAWAY (4.05) was pipped by Porlock Bay in the Cheltenham equivalent (run over 3m 2f) and represents Willie and Patrick Mullins with a very obvious chance.
Latenightpass was well held in fourth, fading up the hill, and this shorter trip may help. Mighty Stowaway looked laboured in sixth but has shown winning form on good ground. Best of the home team could be Sametegal, sixth over course and distance in the 2020 Grand Sefton Chase.
There’s little respite in the 18-runner Red Rum Chase over the Mildmay course. Getaway Trump had more than six lengths in hand of Duke of Navan at Doncaster but is raised 9lb for his labours. MOON OVER GERMANY (4.40), one of two Henry de Bromhead runners, ran fourth to well-touted Grand National hope Any Second Now at Navan last month. He romped home by ten lengths in this race two years ago and William Hill's offer of 10-1 (six places ew) should be snapped up.
Venetia Williams brought back Frero Banbou from a wind procedure to score with plenty in hand at Sandown but the assessor must have crawled out of the bed on the wrong side when imposing a 13lb rise. Editeur Du Gite jumped like a buck when making all to score by more than four lengths at Newbury and Gary Moore will be praying for more of the same in what is traditionally a fast-run 2m 4f contest.