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1.45 – Alder Hey Children’s Charity Handicap Hurdle (Grade 3) (Class 1) (4yo+)
Two stand out from the field here. Who Dares Wins travelled beautifully into the Pertemps at Cheltenham Festival 2018 before he found the trip too far but this trip and course ought to suit him far more and whilst that was a hard race it was his first since November so hopefully he’ll be able to back the run up and going up just a pound for that effort has left him well treated by any reasonable standard.
Spiritofthegames is 10lbs higher than he was when winning well at Lingfield in November but every single pound of that has been earned and his fifth in the Country Hurdle built on a fine third in the Betfair Trophy before that. This ground is not an issue to him having handled the testing surface at Cheltenham with aplomb and it might be that this trip around Aintree proves to be just right, so if not over the top after a very busy season he’s got all the ingredients to go very close.
Advice: 1 pt each/way Spiritofthegames (10/1 Bet365)
2.20 – Betway Top Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 1) (Class 1) (4yo+)
A big field but this has cut up a lot and Global Citizen ought to take the world of beating. His nine-length thumping of Scarlet Dragon in the Dovecote at Kempton was a stunning display and his second wide margin in since moving to the yard of Ben Pauling. He’s a soft ground winner too, so hopefully the surface won’t be a problem, and we know the trip and track should be just fine.
Vision Des Flos has a lot of promise for the future and his Ballymore sixth was a lovely effort but this is a far sharper test, his quickest so far, and he may be more of a stayer. Of more interest is the 4-year-old Style De Garde, who was second when by far the best at the weights in the Fred Winter at Cheltenham, and who has been chosen as the prime representative for the Nicky Henderson yard which has started the festival in great form.
Slate House has struggled since his fine win in a Grade 2 earlier in the season at Cheltenham but this ought to suit him a good deal more than the Grade 2 races he ran in at Cheltenham twice even if he would probably be better suited to going a little bit further on better ground. He retains plenty of promise though. It would be unwise to write off Impact Factor, who was beaten by the useful Hardline in a Grade 2 from the front, and Lalor, who has had the ground go against him.
Advice: 3 pts win Global Citizen (2/1 general)
2.50 – Betway Mildmay Novices’ Chase (Grade 1)
Trappy and not a race to spend a lot of time on and maybe Elegant Escape can be the one. His RSA Chase third looks close to the best recent form and he’s a solid jumper for whom a long straight looks ideal. It’s hoped he’s not over the top as that looked the case with Black Corton when he was a tired fifth in the RSA Chase at Cheltenham, and a hard race was certainly had by Ms Parfois when she was nosed out of the 4-miler by Rathvinden there. Mia’s Storm makes a lot of appeal on ground of freshness but her jumping when to pot in the Kauto Star at Kempton and her best efforts have come on a much better surface. Terrefort, if staying this trip, is an obvious favourite and should make a bold bid.
The form of Snow Falcon’s fifth in the Flogas stands up very well here and if he didn’t tired himself out when getting to the 13th and falling in the Irish National then he’s overpriced – Coo Star Sivola, the winner of the Ultima Chase at the Festival – buy tickets for Cheltenham Festival 2019, has mastered the hang of jumping finally although he was handicapped brilliantly to win at the Festival and this is a whole lot tougher.
Advice: No bet.
3.25 (Mildmay) JLT Melling Chase (Grade 1)
The market has this as being between the Champion Chase runner up and Ryanair winner and the vote goes to Min although I won’t recommend a bet at the odds, who was exemplary in defeat at the Festival. He found only the exceptional Altior too good then and travelled and jumped in a manner that would have won most renewals of the Champion Chase, and he was not stopping up the hill despite the brilliance of Altior. Stamina will be key today, given just how strong Balko Des Flos was when winning the Ryanair, when he gave a comprehensive beating to Un De Sceaux (Cloudy Dream over 10 lengths back in third that day) having actually travelled the better of the two through the home straight. He will expose any flaws in Min’s armoury and has to be the biggest threat with Politologue respected although he has to turn around a large deficit with Min.
Le Prezien was a fine winner of the Grand Annual but this is a totally different test and he could be exposed up in class here and Sizing Granite was back to his form when winning at Newbury but he has a completely different task now.
Advice: No bet.
4.05 – Randox Health Topham Handicap Chase (Grade 3)
One of the finer sights of the week. Ultragold hasn’t cut much ice on his last two starts but he took to the course with aplomb when he won this last year and his second in the Grand Sefton since when outstayed by the Grand National Contender Gas Line Boy shapes really well. He had to cope with deep ground here in December but that did not hamper him one bit, and he ought to go very well today.
Theatre Territory is having her first start over these fences but few riders know this course better than Sam Whaley-Cohen and her last two starts, a third in Kempton’s big three mile handicap chase, and before that a second to the subsequent Cheltenham Festival winner Mister Whitaker when the pair were 17 lengths clear of Sizing Tennessee, a very useful market who was then third in the 4 Miler (had previously pushed Yanworth all the way in the Dipper on New Year’s Day). The likely pace will be very strong but the fact she gets further should help and she’s a sound jump who’s well handicapped.
Advice: 1 pt each/way Ultragold (16/1 Bet365, Ladbrokes, Coral, Hills)
4.40 – Doom Bar Sefton Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 1)
An unappealing race given how gruelling the Albert Bartlett was this year. EBF Mares Hurdle final winner Roksana and EBF Handicap final winner Sam’s Gunner have not exactly had a lot more rest though, given that both had to slog to their victories with gaps of 20 and 34 days to this race. Of the two Roksana, who has been progressive all season, is preferred, although of the favourites OK Corral, who looks nimbler than stablemate Santini, looks the best option around Aintree’s three mile test although a number of contenders are worth taking seriously including Chef Des Obeaux and Poetic Rhythm.
Advice: No bet.
5.15 – Weatherbys Racing Bank Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race (Grade 2)
The market support given to Nicky Henderson’s Mister Fisher before his debut at Kempton and in the leadup to this event suggest that he takes high rank amongst the bumper horses at Seven Barrows and his impressive performance there was that of a horse who can quickly make up the step to graded company. There’s not much established form in his Kempton bumper but Rhythm Is A Dancer was beaten three lengths further by him than he was by other contender Severano on his debut at the same course, and Mister Fisher ought to improve.
He will need to go some to beat Danny Kirwan and Pym, an impressive 1-2 in a Kempton bumper who have been saved for this, bypassing the Cheltenham Festival. Mercy Mercy Me comes from the Champion Bumper, having finished eight there, and might be better suited by this ground which whilst still soft, is not nearly as testing or gluey as it was at Cheltenham, and he’s of interest.
Advice: No bet.
TODAY’S AINTREE LADIES DAY TIPS:
1.45 Aintree – 1 pt each/way Spiritofthegames (10/1 Bet365)
2.20 Aintree – 3 pts win Global Citizen (2/1 general)
4.05 Aintree – 1 pt each/way Ultragold (16/1 Bet365, Ladbrokes, Coral, Hills)