A big week for horse racing fans as the three-day Aintree Grand National Meeting kicks-off on Thursday.
The highlights being on Day 1 the Betway Bowl, Aintree Hurdle and the Foxhunters’ Chase ran over the Grand National Fences. As usual Stefan Fellows is here to share his thoughts and tips.
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1.45 Aintree – Manifesto Novices Chase
Pic D’orhy like many of the Paul Nicholls runners this weekend has been kept fresh with this race in mind and was a good winner at Grade 2 level when last seen.
The mare Gin On Lime receives a handy weight allowance and despite running from a lay off will no doubt have her supporters for the Henry De Bromhead and Rachel Blackmore partnership.
War Lord ran well enough in the Arkle behind Edwardstone. The Colin Tizzard runner seemed to be doing all his best work at the finish that day suggesting this step up in trip could bring out more improvement and is the selection back in the slighter easier event.
Selection – War Lord
2.20 Aintree – Anniversary 4-y-o Juvenile Hurdle
Fred Winter winner Brazil has to be respected but will find things tougher in graded company for the first time against a proven type like Pied Piper.
The Gordon Elliot runner finished third in the Triumph only being beaten 3 lengths in the end by the highly progressive Vauban. With nothing of his level looking in opposition today he’s a confident selection to return to the winner’s enclosure.
The totally unexposed pair of Petit Tonnerree and Fautinette add another level of interest to the race.
Selection – Pied Piper
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2.55 Aintree – Bowl Chase
Gold Cup third Protektorat is likely go off favourite here, that is the best recent form on offer and the gelding is also a previous course and distance winner so looks the one to beat if last months effort has left no mark.
Conflated looked likely to finish in the frame when falling 2 out in the Ryanair, this kind of test probably plays more to his strengths and again should go well no worse for that mishap last time.
Kemboy and Clan Des Obeaux both arrive here fresher horse than their main rivals and whilst the Willie Mullins runner has to be respected it`s last season winner of this race who has my vote once again.
He finished a good second in this seasons King George before disappointing at Newbury when last seen.
Kept fresh for this race since and with the blinkers going on for the first time the Paul Nicholls runner is fancied to bounce back to his best under conditions which we know suit.
Selection – Clan Des Obeaux
3.30 Aintree – Aintree Hurdle
Epatante had Zanahiyr (third) and Glory and fortune (fifth) behind here when finishing second in the Champion Hurdle, not covered the 3 of them that day in the end and it`s hard to be confident about the placings this time around considering all are unproven over this type of trip.
Yes, one of them could improve from what we have seen but with plenty of rain in the forecast this could become somewhat of a stamina test so with that in mind I`m happy to look elsewhere given the current short prices of the front pair.
One who we have no concerns about is the Olly Murphy trained Brewin’upastorm, he arrives here un good form after win in a conditions event at Lingfield and a second place in the National Spirit at Fontwell.
Headgear goes on for the first time which could bring out a bit more and he should go close.
Selection – Brewin’upastorm
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4.05 Aintree – Foxhunters Open Hunters Chase
Jett finished eighth in last season’s Grand National and this race looks to have been in mind for some time. He represents a Jockey who has had success in this race previously but is a little on the short side for me given the nature of the race.
Dashing Perk didn’t get past the first fence when running in this last year but that probably was not totally his own doing and he looks a really interesting contender this time around.
The 11 year old has not been seen since running a solid well enough in valuable Veterans Chase at Sandown once again giving the impression that a drop back to this type of trip would be more in his favour.
Selection – Dashing Perk
4.40 Aintree – Red Rum Handicap Chase
As usual a ultra-competitive handicap with many holding claims chances. Grand Annual winner Global Citizen is up 7lbs and will find things tougher and Frero Banbou who was third in that race keeping on well is preferred on these terms.
King D’argent returned to form last time with a fine second at Doncaster to the reopposing Bun Doran, he was only a neck down that day and is expected to reverse that form.
The Dan Skelton runner has dropped to a nice mark and arrives here a fresh horse. The consistent Before Midnight and Sky Pirate also have to be respected particular if the latter gets a decent surface.
Selection – King D’argent
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5.15 Aintree – Mares National Hunt Flat Race
It`s hard to be confident about anything here with many form lines on offer for these in experienced Mares. Kateira was an impressive winner on debut for The Skelton`s but nothing has really come out of that race to date.
Ashroe Diamond has to be respected for the Willie Mullins team as does the Gavin Cromwell trained Law Ella however it’s another Irish runner Nauightinesse who I want on my side.
She backed up her debut promise when finishing second by winning a Fairyhouse bumper on New Years Day. That form looks to be pretty solid with the third and fifth day both winning since.
Selection – Naughtinesse
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