The big meeting at Aintree gets underway on Thursday. Truth be told I rarely get that heavily involved as it comes at the end of a long hard Jumps season and with the efforts over the previous months and, of course, at the Cheltenham Festival often taking their toll, the form at this meeting can at times prove a bit baffling.
That said day one starts with four Grade One’s and for once I am actually getting involved in all four! I then have just the one bet planned for the rest of the meeting, on Saturday, and details of that follow also.
The Grand National itself I have dealt with on a separate post.
The 2m4f Grade One Devenish Manifesto Novices' Chase gets the meeting underway at 1.45. JLT winner Defi Du Seuil misses the race but it’s still a decent line-up. I thought Kalashnikov looked well at Cheltenham in the Arkle, and not just because I had backed him ante-post. He was going well just off the leaders until badly hampered and unseating Jack Quinlan at the sixth. There has been a bit of money for the 6yo in the build-up and there was a lot of chatter pre-Cheltenham that perhaps he would be better suited to this trip than the 2m Arkle. The rain that’s been about won’t have bothered connections either. I have a bit of the 9-2. La Bague Au Roi and Glen Forsa are just two of the dangers.
At 2.20 it’s the Grade One Doom Bar Anniversary 4-Y-O Juvenile Hurdle over 2m1f. This has been built up as one of the most eagerly anticipated races of the week. It sees a clash between surprise Triumph Hurdle winner Pentland Hills and Band Of Outlaws who landed the Fred Winter (my tip) at Cheltenham. I am a big fan of the Joseph O’Brien trained gelding and you had to be impressed with how he shouldered top weight in the Fred Winter and kicked clear up the hill. I have grabbed some of the 15-8
The Grade One 3m1f Betway Bowl Chase is the main event on day one. I left Triple G Favourite Bristol De Mai alone for the Gold Cup but he run an absolute stormer to be third; Clan Des Obeaux that I did back in fifth. The 8yo has proved to his doubters he is not just a Haydock bully but that said Aintree is similar in many ways to the Merseyside track anyway – both left-handed and relatively flat. The rain won’t bother this one either and at 3-1 he is a tentative pick having come for this rather than a tilt at the Grand National.
At 3.25 it’s the Grade One 2m4f Betway Aintree Hurdle. Summerville Boy and Faugheen will feature among nine runners in a top-class renewal. Buveur D'Air took his first ever tumble in the Champion Hurdle last month but his chances are obvious. Winner of this race in 2017 he is odds-on for good reason. Grab the 10-11 if you can.
And so to the Saturday and the 3m ½f Grade One Ryanair Stayers Hurdle (Registered As The Liverpool Hurdle) which is the race that interest me. The bubble well and truly burst for Apples Jade at the Festival and though there is a very strong argument to be had that this is her distance I am taking her on as I think she is too short in the market. Sam Spinner turned up at Cheltenham almost the forgotten horse and ran second in the Stayers; I had tipped him for the race in 2018 when fifth. Clearly back to somewhere near his best, with a linking for softer underfoot conditions and having finished third in this last year he looks to have every chance if in similar mood to the one he was in last month. He can be punted 4 -1.
The 3m½f Grade One Doom Bar Sefton Novices' Hurdle at 4.40 on Friday is a cracking renewal but I couldn’t bet. Champ was my tip for the 2m5f Ballymore Novices Hurdle at the Festival where he was second losing out to City Island up the hill. Dallas Des Pictons was the tip for the Martin Pipe at the Festival where he was also second whilst Emitom has looked a nice type in what we have seen thus far. I simply couldn’t split the three! The race will be well worth a watch though