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Thursday 12 April 2018

Aintree Festival (Thursday) 12th April

The opening day of the Aintree Festival and we kick-off with 4 x Grade 1 races.
Before that though, some of my early thoughts about the Grand National. The ground will have a huge bearing on the result and at the moment we could have anything ranging from Good-to-Soft to Soft (heavy in places) depending on the weather.  What we can be sure of is that the word "soft" will be in the ground description.
While we may have had winners of the Grand National that have carried more than 11st, in the main those carrying less than 11st have dominated the race in recent years. As such, I usually shy away from those with more than 11st but there is one horse that I think could have a great chance - even on soft ground - if he's in the mood, and that's MINELLA ROCCO who has top-weight with 11st 10lb. He's won the 4-mile NH Chase (with Native River and Vicente behind him that day); he's powered thru' the mud at Cheltenham to be 3rd in November16 when he looked the most unfit horse in the paddock beforehand (I was there); and he was 2nd in the 2017 Cheltenham Gold Cup, and he's still only an 8yo!   He also ran a cracker to be 4th on 28th Dec behind 1st Road To Respect and 2nd Balko Des Flo over 3-miles; not bad form that.
Jockeyship will come to the fore, I expect, as keeping the horse going when he wants to stop on soft ground is not something every jockey can do (watch Red Marauder win the National when only 2 completed, as Ruby Walsh and AP McCoy remounted to take 3rd and 4th, which they can't do now).  As such, Davy Russell on TIGER ROLL is looking a good booking, and I'm liking this horse more and more.
If VINTAGE CLOUDS gets a run he will not be 40/1, but I'm not sure enough (he needs another 5) will withdraw. 
It's possible Total Recall will not run, and nor will Vicente, and perhaps there are a few that would be better not bothering. Mullins will also probably pull-out Childrens List.  If pushed, I expect Sue Smith would rather have Vintage Clouds run than stablemate Delutionofgrandeur, but will the owner agree? 

The day opens on Thursday with the 2m4f Manifesto Novices' Chase run at 1:45pm.  Only 6 runners go to post, and the favourite is likely to be Nicky Henderson's Brain Power, however I have not thought this trip would suit him. So far, Brain Power has only run at around 2-miles.  As such, it may pay to oppose him with one of the pair sent by Paul Nicholls: Cyrname and Modus.  The latter disappointed at Cheltenham when he was outclassed, but he will appreciate this ground and this looks an easier race.  Cyrname missed Cheltenham but had already shown he was a decent novice chaser at this trip when just beaten by a neck at Sandown in February. The winner that day was Terrefort, who went on to be 2nd at Cheltenham in the JLT Novices Chase over 2m4f. 
CYRNAME looks the most likely winner and odds of 9/4 are fair.  

Next up at 2:20pm is the Doom Bar Juvenile Hurdle run over 2m1f, and again the race is dominated by Nicky Henderson who sends We Have A Dream and Apple's Shakira. At the odds I'm not interested in either horse, and this race is probably best watched.

The Betway Bowl Chase run over 3m1f at 2:50pm could be a classic.  Last years' winner Tea For Two returns, but this race is all about Might Bite and how much did the Gold Cup defeat take out of him.  Obviously, if he can repeat that form then Might Bite will not be beaten in this race.  However, that will be a big ask and as Bristol De Mai comes here fresh and having had a wind-op he could be capable of running to his best on this flat LH track which will suit him.  After his run in the Gold Cup, I'm wondering if Definitly Red was lucky to be in the right place at the right time when winning the Cotswold Chase in January at Cheltenham. Other than these three, I cannot see anything else getting into the race, and at 11/2 with Paddy Power BRISTOL DE MAI looks an eachway steal (5th odds a place 1,2,3)

The trip of 2m4f will really suit Supasundae in the Aintree Hurdle at 3:25pm, but he will need to be at his best to hold off the old boys The New One and My Tent Or Yours who have both shown that - on the day - they can run to near their best. It is also interesting that Henderson runs L'Ami Serge in this race as most of his hurdle races have been over 3-miles, but he did win the Grade 2 Select Hurdle at Sandown last April (The New One was btn 9-lengths into 4th) and that suggests he won't be far away either. A race in which I will be laying the fav if he remains at "evens" for the race in the betting.  

I've never had much luck in the Foxhunters over the years, my selections either fall or have no luck in running - so I will give this race a miss. 

The "Red Rum" Chase (handicap) run over 2-miles at 4:40pm is one of the best 2-mile handicap chases of the season and this years race looks very competitive.  I feel that King's Socks will prefer a longer trip, and as much as I like the consistency of Theinval, he's had too many races to find much improvement to win off this mark of OR141.  Last year, BUN DORAN started the 6/1 fav and his 3 runs since then this season have shown he's capable of winning off this mark of OR139, and odds of 8/1 (Bet365) look good value for an eachway wager - he is generally 7/1 which is still fair value. 

My advised wagers today are:-
1:45pm - CYRNAME - £10 win but ONLY if you can obtain 9/4 or longer
2:50pm - BRISTOL DE MAI - £5 eachway @ 11/2 with Paddy Power
4:40pm - BUN DORAN - £5 eachway @ 8/1 with Bet365

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