Thursday 6.30pm Aintree’s opening day was thoroughly entertaining but gosh it was hard to make money punting! The annual question at this meeting is “How will Cheltenham Festival work out?” Well if day 1 is anything to go by in 2017 you either want a horse that hacked up at the Festival (Buveur D’Air and Defi de Seuil) or to have run and either not completed or run out of gas up that Cheltenham Hill and come here without having their Official Rating increased!
Aintree Going Watch – It’s drying but not as quickly as expected!!
Mildmay – Good, Good to Soft in places Hurdle –
Good National – Good to Soft, Good in places
Watered. Watered fences 13 & 14 Grand National course overnight
(GoingStick: Mildmay 6.7 Hurdle 7.0 National 6.2 on Thursday at 17:00)
After the second race Barry Geraghty told ITV “ground was dead, hard work. Closer to soft than good.”
Fridays Lucky 15
Aintree 1.40 RATHER BE 12/1 PP 10/1 general
Aintree 2.20 RIVER WYLDE 5/2 BetFred 9/4 general
Aintree 3.25 GODS OWN 7/2 general
Aintree 4.05 AS DE MEE 12/1 WH 10/1 general
Aintree 1.40: Top grade 3 handicap hurdle over 2m 4f. Many contenders but four that interest me. North Hill Harvey was a strong fancy for the County hurdle at Cheltenham over 2m, so steps up in trip and is eased three pounds by the handicapper. However he has top weight here and I have moved him from my handicappers list to next season novice chasers! Thomas Campbell was fifth in the Martin Pipe running on strongly and has been put up two pounds. He may need a bit further on a fast, flat track like Aintree although he will love the ground. Ice Cold Soul was an impressive winner of the coral.ie hurdle at Leopardstown in January, has gone up 10lbs but another who the drying ground will suit. Bryan Cooper hasn’t won on the horse. Nicky Henderson, who also trains Thomas Campbell, can take this prize with Rather Be. Hampered and unseated in the Martin Pipe when well supported he remains on OR136 which I think severely underestimates his talent. Ground will be fine and on a fast, flat track with plenty of pace on I think he will be seen at his best.
Aintree 2.20: River Wylde was third in the Supreme at the Festival and neither Labaik nor Melon are here. River Wylde looks a sharp animal and Nicky Henderson can make a swift return to the winner’s enclosure. Malcolm Jefferson’s Mount Mews steps into Grade 1 for the first time having been impressive climbing the ladder but this may just be a bit too quick here. Moon Racer is an enigma and will bolt in the day I least expect or want him to!
Aintree 2.50: Might Bite should win but it could be fun and games watching him do it! Might well leave him and Whisper out of the placepot and do the other three as that was a tough race at Cheltenham just three weeks ago.
Aintree 3.25: With no Douvan on the scene this is a weak looking division but very competitive! Gods Own lost all chance at the Festival with an error at the second last but his Aintree form reads 212. He consistently runs to OR166 and that could be good enough. If King George form is to be believed Josses Hill could be a player here.
Aintree 4.05: I am all over As de Mee and have been ever since he won the Grand Sefton over the National course and distance beating Seefood and Henryville back in September. He looks to really enjoy these bigger obstacles and in Sean Bowen has a partner who rides the track better than most. The two who placed in the Grand Sefton are obvious dangers but this is the wrong way round for Go Conquer, Bouvreuil had a tough race at the festival, Gold Present likewise and this is a big call for a novice, Eastlake is Eastlake (????), Thomas Brown wants it softer. No it’s As de Mee all the way.
Aintree 4.40: This is cracking G1 3m novice hurdle and I would love to take every one of them novice chasing next season! I’m going to after-time this race in a separate blog next week as I think it will tie in so many strands of form and give me a chance to name a few for next season over the larger obstacles. From how I started this blog The Worlds End having not completed at Cheltenham would have to go close. The McNeill Family run two and I expect Keeper Hill won’t be far away either.
Aintree 5.15: Pick the winner of this and you are very much “smarter than the average bear”! Will watch this race dozens of times but in real time probably try to track If The Cap Fits and And The New.
Not a great start in Liverpool!!
So what is the bet for Thursday? It’s a three star*** e/w treble on
Aintree 1.45 TOP NOTCH 3rd 6/5F (5/4 general)
Looked totally flat to me, error down far side didn’t help. Henderson said of Top Notch, who was runner-up to Yorkhill in the JLT Novices’ Chase at the Cheltenham Festival: “He’s been on the go a long time and had a proper campaign. Daryl [Jacob] felt he ran a bit flat today.”
Aintree 2.50 CUE CARD 2nd 2/1 (7/4 general)
Ridden handy, took it up six out as he did in the Charlie Hall and he got beaten there as well. Travelled with head to one side, wanted to go faster? Injury?
Aintree 4.40 DANDRIDGE 10th 7/1 (13/2 general (4 places with PP))
Everything seemed to be going to plan but something happened round about three out. Need to watch race again as Dandridge went out like a light and was eased.
2.20 Defi du Seuil, “Fluent not over spectacular” Richard Hoiles. Spot on. Methinks time to back him for the Arkle! Have a feeling Skelton’s Bedrock may have buggered his handicap mark!
3.25 Buveur D’Air, pure class. “Low, flat and fast.” Sir AP. Pricked his ears crossing the line, more to come.