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Friday 9 April 2021

Aintree 2021 - Friday 9th April

After starting the day full of enthusiasm, I was quickly brought down to earth and (thankfully) didn't bet as strongly as I was going to.  
In the opening race, Protektorat was back to the form he showed last November, which is good but not "proper" Grade 1 winning form. If the handicapper is tough on him then he is going to find life extremely difficult next season. Not so The Shunter, who seemed to hit everything and still stayed in with a chance at the final fence; he could still be well-handicapped based on this run. As for Hitman, thankfully he's only a 5yo and has time to improve.  In the Juvenile Hurdle, we saw that Adagio has still not learned how to jump a hurdle but, even so, he came to the final flight looking to be going the best - before demolishing it! That was his chance gone, and Monmiral ran-on a fair winner, and on this form would have gone close in the Triumph Hurdle had he taken part.
As expected, the Betway Bowl Chase (Grade 1) did not take much winning. Only 5 finished the race, and three of those (Native River, Tiger Roll, and Aso) were well outclassed. It would not surprise me to see Native River retired now, he just does not have the pace for these "proper" Grade 1 races. The obvious disappointment was Mister Fisher, who appeared to be going very well till a bad mistake at the 11th fence, that rattled him.  He hadn't settled by the next, blundered through it, and lost his rider - game over. He's going to be hard to place now as he's obviously not Grade 1 standard, but is rated OR162. He could be hurdling next season like his stablemate, Top Notch.  Briefly, Clondaw Castle looked about to make a race of it, but Clan Des Obeaux showed the gulf between him - a two-time "King George" winner - and a decent handicapper at level weights.  On his day, Clan Des Obeaux is a very smart staying chaser and on this form he'd be well-capable of winning a 3rd King George next Boxing Day - so long as Monkfish, A Plus Tard, Minella Indo, Envoi Allan and Allaho don't make the trip over from Ireland!  Some pundits described this as a "monstrous" performance, but I doubt a repeat in the recent Gold Cup would have put him in the 1st-3.  Clan Des Obeaux is the UK's current best staying chaser but he might struggle to get into the Irish-trained top-10.
The Aintree Hurdle was another poor race for me; but it's difficult to know how Jason The Militant would have done had he not unseated his rider mid-race as until then he was going well. I'm not sure what happened with Song For Someone, he never settled and was pulled-up; but then he's had a long season and perhaps he's jaded and in need of a break. The race was won by Abacadabras who won a "slow-motion" finish beating handicapper Buzz into 2nd. Finally, RP Ratings have agreed with me on assessing a race, as normally they look at a horse like Buveur D'Air in 4th and use that horses rating as the benchmark. By careful placement, Abacadabras won his 2nd senior Grade 1 race here, but grade 1 performance it wasn't.

Friday looks another tricky card, opening with a 22-runner handicap hurdle.  The Grade 1 novices hurdle over an extended 2-miles looks another tricky contest, not least because Nicky Henderson sends Dusart from off a 155-day break. I would be tempted to oppose this 2/1 fav; but what with?   

The 3m1f Grade 1 novices Chase is next, and I'm tempted to go with Fiddlerontheroof who showed he stayed 3-miles in the "Brown Advisory" Chase at the Festival and looks to be one of the better UK-based novice chasers. He's been very consistent through his career, and given his improvement at recent races at 3-mile, his form as a novice hurdler last season around 2-mile is seen in a better light. I don't think he had a tough race at Cheltenham behind Monkfish, and he looks under-rated - but so far, Cheltenham Festival runners haven't done well here at Aintree. 

The Queen Mother Champion Chase was run without defending champion Politologue last month, as blood was seen in his nostrils in the paddock before the race and he was withdrawn. Given he pulverised stablemate Greaneteen in the Tingle Creek in December, and Greaneteen was only btn 2-lengths in the QMCC, you have to think that Politologue is just about the best 2-mile chaser in training at the moment.  The question is the trip: he's won this race before in 2018, and he's won over 2m5f at Ascot, but he's about 7lb better at 2-mile than he is at 2m4f. Remember, he was easily swept aside in this race in 2019 the winner Min. There's another C&D winner in the race and that's Nuts Well: he beat Clondaw Castle over 2m4f here in October, and before that he beat Aye Right over an extended 2-mile at Kelso - and both of those beaten horses have promoted the form since then.  Yes, he's a 10yo and he'd never win a QMCC, but he comes here fresh and capable of running a cracker. The other horse coming here fresh and in form is Dashel Drasher, and he's improved with every run this season and there's no reason why Master Tommytucker who he beat LTO should reverse the placings. The fav is the Irish-trained Fakir D'oudairies who has a rating of OR162, but for the life of me I don't know why! He had a hard race LTO at Cheltenham, and he's never looked much better than a 155-rated 2-miler to me who always seems to find one better in the race - and he was beaten 12-lengths by Notebook last November! The Henry De Bromhead team seem to have gone off the boil with 1 win from 36 runners in the past 14-days, and so I have to pass-over Notebook.  I'm looking at Nuts Well and Dashel Drasher to fight out the finish, with Politologue coming in a gallant 3rd: and as I can't split the pair, I will be putting them in a reverse forecast.  

The Topham Trophy Chase is one to watch, although I may have a small wager on Storm Control who loves to bowl along in front and is a bold jumper of a fence, he may take some catching. 

The Sefton Novices Hurdle (Grade 1) over 3-miles is headed by Bravemansgame trained by Paul Nicholls who has his horses in great form. However, this one was exposed at the Cheltenham Festival over 2m5f and there's nothing in his pedigree to suggest that he's a better horse at 3-mile. As such, I'm going for the Irish raider of Emmet Mullins in Cape Gentleman who has won over 2m4f on heavy ground, and looks under-exposed.  He's a decent price too at 11/2; but this isn't a race to get heavily involved in as there are too many imponderables and unexposed horses trying a new trip.

As I'm giving the 22-runner handicap hurdle the closes the meeting a swerve, I can continue to delve into the Grand National runners and will likely post up my blog on the great race later this evening.

Suggested wagers:
3:25 Marsh Chase
2 x straight-forecasts: £6 Dashel Drasher to beat Nuts Well  
and £4 Nuts Well to beat Dashel Drasher
Total staked = £10

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