Good morning all,
It’s day one of the Aintree Grand National Festival. There’s a first sight of the National fences with the latest running of Foxhunters Chase, the competitive Red Rum Handicap Chase over 2m and the card concludes with an interesting mares’ only bumper, which sees the unbeaten Eileendover back in action after bypassing the Champion Bumper at Cheltenham.
Inside today’s main piece I have focused on the first four Grade 1 races on a seven-race card. You could argue that they aren’t true Grade 1’s in quality but they look competitive races nonetheless.
Aintree Grand National Festival
The going is being described as good to soft but I suspect given the watering that the track will ride on the slow side and the going/stick reading of 5.6 on the chase course and 5.8 on the hurdle course suggests that will be the case.
1:45 – (Mildmay) SSS Super Alloys Manifesto Novices' Chase (Grade 1) – 2m 4f
Fusil Raffles heads the betting after his recent second in the Marsh Novices Chase at Cheltenham. The 6-year-old jumps neatly, will like the good ground, and should be suited by the track. Big chance if this doesn’t come too quick. Trainer Nicky Henderson saddled the 2012 winner.
Eldorado Allen was ridden to place in the Arkle Novices Chase. He was no match for Shishkin but was given a good ride to finish runner-up. First go beyond 2m 1f but it looks worth a try. Trainer Colin Tizzard has had a nightmare season but his record at the meeting is a good one. Particularly in Grade 1’s with runners who finished first or second on their last start – 6 winners from 12 runners 50% +29.79 8 placed 67%, He also saddled the winner of this race in 2018.
The Shunter has been a real money spinner for connections this season and fully deserves to take his chance in Graded company after his win at the Cheltenham Festival. His new mark of 153 means he doesn’t need find much more improvement to win.
2:20 – Doom Bar Anniversary 4-Y-O Juvenile Hurdle (Grade 1) – 2m 1f
Monmiral made it 4-4 over hurdles when winning at Haydock 47-days ago. He bypassed Cheltenham to come here. Solid form chance. However, I’m not sure he should be as short as he is.
Adagio is a consistent hurdler who posted a career best when runner-up in the Triumph Hurdle last time. Likely to give his running and won’t be far away.
If there is to be an upset it could be provided by Fiveandtwenty or John Locke.
Fiveandtwenty’s form isn’t at the level as the other two. However, she made it 3-3 since going hurdling when winning the Listed Scottish Triumph Hurdle at Musselburgh last time. A speedy and slick hurdler connections opted for this rather than go to Cheltenham.
John Locke wasn’t disgraced when fourth to Tritonic in the Adonis Hurdle. That was his first start over hurdles so should be capable of more improvement. Big ask here but can’t be easily dismissed.
2:50 – Betway Bowl Chase (Grade 1) – 3m 1f
A decent sized field of nine have been declared for arguably the race of the day.
Clan Des Obeaux has finished second in the race in 2019 and third in 2018. Probably not the horse that he once was although his run in the Betfair Chase was a good one. Gets the first time cheekpieces today which will hopefully galvanise him back to something approaching his best.
Native River found things happening too quickly in the Gold Cup but he managed to plug on into fourth. There isn’t much pace forecast so he could get an uncontested lead but will underfoot conditions be soft enough?
Waiting Patiently runner-up in the King George VI is suited by a flat track and as he showed at Kempton this distance is within his stamina range. Lightly raced for a 10-year-old he deserves to win another Grade 1.
Tiger Roll comes here rather than go for the Gold Cup. He bounced back to form to win the Cross Country at Cheltenham last time. This is his time of year and the good ground suits.
Clondaw Castle is another who will relish the drying ground. The 9-year-old put in a career best effort when stepped up to 3m in a valuable handicap chase at Kempton last time. This is looks a step-in class but on the figures he doesn’t have much to find with the principals.
Mister Fisher ran well, considering how badly he jumped, before pulling up in the Ryanair Chase at Cheltenham. Looks worth a go over 3m but his jumping must be better than last time if he’s to win in this company.
3:25 – Aintree Hurdle (Grade 1) – 2m 4f
Brewin'upastorm & McFabulous were first and second in the Grade 2 National Spirit Hurdle at Fontwell last time. The runner-up get’s 6lb from the winner so there shouldn’t be much between the pair at these weights. However, I think there could be more to come from Brewin'upastorm over hurdles.
Jason The Militant brings high class Irish hurdling form to the race. He seems to be improving with racing and given his prominent style of running he should be suited by the track. First start beyond two miles but should stay.
Song For Someone missed the Champion Hurdle after a lack lustre run behind Goshen in the Kingwell Hurdle at Wincanton. Had looked better than ever when winning his first two starts this season and can’t be ruled out over trip that suits.
Abacadabras didn’t get beyond the third in the Champion Hurdle. Last season’s Supreme Novices Hurdle runner-up hasn’t really kicked on this season, as hoped, and he may find there are stronger stayers on his first run beyond 2m.
Buveur D'Air bypassed the Champion Hurdle. The 10-year-old probably isn’t the horse he was but it’s worth remembering the former Champion Hurdler won this in 2017 and was runner-up two years ago.
Silver Streak made all to beat Epatante in the Christmas Hurdle at Kempton but couldn’t do the same when only sixth in the Champion Hurdle. Faces competition for the lead here but he’s a smart hurdler at his best and on good ground can never be ruled out.
Not So Sleepy is a classy handicapper as he showed when beating Buzz at Ascot in December. Wasn’t disgraced when 5th of 10 in the Champion Hurdle last time. Could get into the money at big odds.
3:25 – Brewin'upastorm – 7/1 @ Coral & Ladbrokes.
Good luck with your Thursday bets.
John Burke is the tipster behind the long standing Victor Value service you can join him here – https://victorvalue.uk