Wednesday 6.30pm Aintree’s Grand National meeting kicks off with a glut of Grade 1’s but sadly small fields so making money isn’t going to be easy. I am struggling to make a case against Defi du Seuil (1/3) and Buveur D’Air (2/5) and with a 29 runner Foxhunters over the National fences and an 18 runner G2 mares bumper I am starting to run out of races! Can I take on Top Notch and/or Cue Card? Can I solve the puzzle that is the 2m handicap chase?
Aintree Going Watch – It’s drying!!
Mildmay & Hurdle – Good, Good to Soft in place
National – Good to Soft, Good in places
(GoingStick: Mildmay 7.0 Hurdle 6.9 National 6.2 on Wednesday at 14:00)
Aintree 1.45: Top Notch is a rock solid OR158 horse whether its fences or hurdles, left or right handed, any ground. 2m 4f is his ideal trip. Cyrius Morviere or Max Ward would be a real shock. Flying Angel was unlucky at Cheltenham but is this ground too quick and can he be trusted to complete? So can Cloudy Dream or Frodon improve the required 5lb? Would either of them have finished 5th in a Champion Hurdle? I think not and therefore having raved about the 2017 JLT form finishing just a length behind Yorkhill makes TOP NOTCH a good thing at 5/4.
Aintree 2.20: First two in the Fred Winter, the 4yo handicap at Cheltenham, take on the easy winner of the G1 Triumph at level weights, which strikes me as a mismatch! The ground will be the quickest he’s raced on and it’s a speed track but can’t oppose DEFI DU SEUIL but can’t back him either at 1/3.
Aintree 2.50: Cue Card can’t win he’s an 11yo? Well so is Silviniaco Conti and Smad Place and Empire of Dirt are only a year younger! Bristol de Mai is a 6yo G1 winner. Forget the age factor, its current form. Cue Card fell, well galloped through the third last, at Cheltenham. He did twelve months ago as well then turned up here and stuffed Don Poli by nine lengths in this race. Silviniaco conti has lost it but where else do they run him? Bristol de Mai needs softer ground and is he really a G1 horse? Not yet. Aso is a handicapper and Tea for Two needs to go right handed and I’m unconvinced that the media savvy Lizzie Kelly is the ideal pilot but blood is thicker than water! So can Smad Place do the right thing for once and repeat his Hennessey winning tactics of blasting out, going a solid gallop from flag to line? Surely it’s his best chance of winning but of course would be just what a 100% Cue Card would want. Has to be worth a try because if time has caught up with the old boy, physically or mentally, then Smad Place might just hang on. It is possible that Bristol de Mai might try the same game plan but no idea these days what Daryl Jacob may do. Either way I think this may be Cue Cards swan song and I’m sure that the Tizzards, Paddy Brennan and the bulk of NH fans would like to see Cue Card go out with a win. So I’m going to let my head agree with my heart and make CUE CARD the selection.
Aintree 3.25: He did us a good turn in winning the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham and I can see no reason to oppose BUVEUR D’AIR here on a track he’s won on before, over a trip that is probably his ideal!
Aintree 4.05: I just can’t persuade myself that this is a betting medium. Twenty nine hunters. One lap of the Grand National fences. Spring ground. Festival atmosphere on a warm, sunny day. Sorry I’m a spectator!
Aintree 4.40: This IS the betting race of the day but it’s 7/1 the field! They are going to go 100mph over 2m on quick ground over twelve fences around one of the UK’s sharpest tracks. Big field experience could be essential for both horse and jockey! I think the market has got this right and it’s a toss-up between Theinval and Dandridge, Jeremiah McGrath v Davy Russell, Nicky Henderson v Arthur Moore. Dandridge is three pounds better off for the two and a half lengths he was beaten in the Grand Annual at Cheltenham when they finished second and fourth to Rock the world. Theinval won the novice handicap hurdle at this meeting back in 2015. Dandridge was second in this race last year off the same mark of OR142. Two things persuade me to go with the Irish challenger, Firstly the wise old head of Davy Russell and DANDRIDGE won’t get this ground in Ireland! Of those at bigger prices lower down the weights Ravens Tower could be worth a second look having won over course and distance on Good to soft ground back in November off a mark just a pound lower. Trainer Ben Pauling bagged one at Cheltenham and with this jockey David Bass.
Aintree 5.15: I had a strong fancy for Cap Soleil for Fergal O’Brien but sadly she’s not lining up. I just don’t have the same enthusiasm for the horse she beat at Sandown, Petticoat Tails, not at 3/1. The money today has seen Brian Ellison’s Shearling cut from 10’s to 7’s and he’s booked Richard Johnson to ride. Too many runners that could take a giant step forward, I’ll pass.
So what is the bet for Thursday? It’s a three star*** e/w treble on
Aintree 1.45 TOP NOTCH 5/4 general
Aintree 2.50 CUE CARD 7/4 general
Aintree 4.40 DANDRIDGE 13/2 general (4 places with PP)
Wednesdays Lucky 15
Not a good start to National week! Three of them halved in price, a beaten favourite and only Man in Black competitive.
Carlisle 2.30 MAN IN BLACK 2nd 9/2 (8/1 general)
Well supported. Prominent on inner throughout. Every chance from two out. Just outbattled close to the line and beaten a neck, went odds on in running!
Carlisle 3.35 SCOOTER BOY 4th 9/4F (11/4 Ladbrokes 5/2 general)
Held up, jumped OK bar the last two but never had the pace to get involved.
Wincanton 1.50 LAPALALA Fell 7/2 (8/1 Betfred 7/1 general)
Well supported. Going OK but fell 7th.
Wincanton 3.55 ARCTIC LADY 5th 9/2 (11/1 PP 10/1 general)
Well supported although late drift from 4’s to 6’s then returned 9/2? Started prominently but just drifted backwards. Good to firm ground not suitable?
JumpsRacing.co.uk @CheltenhamNews News this morning that Barry Geraghty is set to ride More Of That in the Grand National. Jamie Codd set for the ride on Cause Of Causes.
Sportinglife.com Fry decided against entering his charge at Aintree this week and Neon Wolf will either head to Ireland or be given a summer break. “He will maybe go to Punchestown, but we will just see how things pan out,” said the Seaborough-based trainer. “If he runs, Punchestown would be the only place he would go.”