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Thursday, 7 April 2022

Aintree - Friday 8th April

Yesterday was not the best of days - not a sniff of a winner, or even a place (both advised selections were eachway wagers).  A bad jumping error put paid to the chances of Pic D'Orhy, but he wasn't running well and possibly wants to go right-handed.  He beat Millers Bank LTO and that one looked to have a bundle in-hand when winning this race. 
Then Brazil was clearly over-the-top as he was unable to cope with the leading pair, Pied Piper and Knight Salute. The Irish-trained Pied Piper has looked a decent juvenile hurdler since his debut on 31Dec; but he met his match in Knight Salute! The Milton Harris trained gelding has now won 6 of his 7 hurdle races and gone from strength to strength. He has pricked a few bubbles this season and this was a well deserved Grade 1 win.
The Betway Bowl again went to a horse who bypassed the Cheltenham Festival, and all those that ran at the Festival ran poorly in this race. Clan Des Obeaux is a good yardstick, but this wasn't his best performance by a long way - and it didn't need to be. 
Epatante ran possibly a career-best in the Aintree Hurdle, and possible opens up a new avenue for her next season as she's not up to beating Honeysuckle over 2-miles - or stable companion at Seven Barrows, Constitution Hill. 

Onto Friday's racing at Aintree, and I do like the look of FIRST STREET in the Novices' Hurdle at 2:20pm.  He was most unlucky to bump into the exceptionally well-handicapped State Man in the County Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival, and 4th in that race - West Cork - has since upheld the form. That trainer Nicky Henderson has sent him for this race, along with his top-novice Jonbon, is very interesting.  On my ratings, I think First Street is at least 5lb better than Jonbon.  The Irish challenger El Fabiolo is clearly well thought of, but he's only run in one hurdle race (which he won), and this will be a big ask to win this - unless he is very talented indeed. Odds of 4/1 (generally available) look very attractive to me.

The Grade 2 Mildmay novices' chase over 3m1f looks a cracker, even with just 4 runners. On my ratings, I reckon Bravemansgame is the best of these; but at the odds available it is a no bet race for me.

There looks to be better value in the Grade 1 Marsh Chase, as although I really like Fakir D'oudairies and was very disappointed that he didn't run in the Ryanair Chase (he wouldn't have beaten Allaho, but he would certainly have come 2nd or 3rd at very attractive odds), odds of 11/8 for this competive race are just bonkers. I don't think Funambula Sivola is good enough to win this race - and if he isn't then Hitman isn't, as he beat him easily at level-weights LTO.  Saint Calvados has had his day in the sun, and while this trip will suit him well, he'd need a career-best effort to win. The two that represent vale are Mister Fisher and Allmankind. Mister Fisher is a very good horse on his day, but one who quickly throws-in the towel when it isn't; and he also goes best on soft ground. Allmankind won the "Old Roan" Grade 2 Chase over C&D last October on good ground.  He has won well on sift going, but he's best on good. He's also been aimed at this race since winning here in October, and trainer Dan Skelton is no mug. Odds of 12/1 look massive given that ALLMANKIND is 2nd highest rated in the race, just a pound behind the fav Fakir D'oudairies, on OR163. 

My selections for Friday are:-
Aintree 2:20pm - FIRST STREET - £5 win @ 4/1 (generally available)
Aintree 3:30pm - ALLMANKIND - £5 eachway & £5 win @ 12/1 (5th odds, places 1,2,3 generally available)

We now have the 40 declared runners for the Grand National on Saturday, and all 5 of the horses on my shortlist - see the blog from Tuesday - are in the race: Any Second Now; Escaria Ten; Fiddlerontheroof; Discorama and Eclair Surf.  Of those on the shortlist, I think FIDDLERONTHEROOF holds the best chance and 16/1 with 6-places eachway now available looks good value. I also think Discorama is great value at 40/1 considering he comes into this race better prepared than last season when he ran very well.

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