2.00 – Decent looking Juvenile hurdle with some of the best looking UK hurdlers lining up and the Gordon Elliott trained Flaxen Flare. Trends wise ten of the last ten had run in past 40 days and ten of ten had run on the flat. Another useful trend to note is that since 2005 seven of the past 8 winners were sent off favourite. So a pointer to Rolling Star. I’d be one at Aintree though to look past the Cheltenham runners on the whole. The one I prefer in here is the Nicholls trained Irish Saint who has 3 of 4 starts including the Adonis on his last start. He was beaten previously by Rolling Star but that was on heavy and as I say I think the extended break will see him reverse the tables. Flaxen Flare was a ready winner of the Fred Winter but I’d be concerned that in smaller fields he’s failed to really fire and though the stable form is respected he’s not for me. Of the rest Vasco Du Ronceray was the highest placed finisher in the Triumph and its worth noting the record of that runner in this race (2211121212). Eyecatchingly amazing. L’Unique is not to be underestimated neither as Alan King has a terrific record in this race though she was well put in her place in the Adonis by Irish Saint – which also applies to VDR who may just be a shade of value at 8s. I was just going to stick with Irish Saint but think VDR is worth a small saver.
Irish Saint 2pt win @ 3/1
Vasco Du Ronceray 1pt win @ 8/1
2.30 – This pretty much revolves around Silviniaco Conti who on official figures is 7lb better off than anything else in here. I also think he’s more suited to a flat track and absolutely hosed in the Mildmay Novices last year. It’s hard to tell whether he’d have beaten Bobs Worth in the Gold Cup but he’s a worthy favourite and although he fell in that race you’d have to think he’s the most likely winner. Which even money would suggest. Nicholls doesn’t have a great record in the race though as he’s saddled four beaten favourites in the past 10 years so whether you’d want to lump on Conti as a short price it’s probably not something I’d be keen on. 5 of the last 10 winners did run in the Gold Cup and all but one didn’t even place – so another pointer to Conti. Of the rest First Lieutenant should run his race and the step up in trip will likely help, being as Aintree isn’t the most demanding of courses. He has a problem getting his head in front though having not won since November ’11. The Giant Bolster ran a terrific race in the Gold Cup and again looks somewhat ignored in here – regarding price. He was well beaten by Conti at Newbury but he jumped badly that day and could get closer. I do think he’s better at Cheltenham though so would probably want double figures (unlikely) before supporting him. Menorah’s very enigmatic though does have a good record at the course and he won a Grade 1 on the card last year, beating Al Ferof no less. He’s stepping into the unknown trip wise though and been well beaten by Conti and others this year. I couldn’t back Quito with stolen money, much like Wayward Prince who also has an excellent Aintree record. Cape Tribulation is another with a win over the CD albeit over hurdles. He ran well in the Gold Cup despite being somewhat outclassed. Three of the last ten winners did run in the Argento though and finished 112 so he’s not without hope. Oliver McKiernan won this race last year with a 50/1 outsider but Whodoyouthink has even less hope than that one and even at 125/1 he looks without hope. Essentially I think Conti wins – but I won’t be backing him. Menorah may be worth a tiny bet considering his course form and somewhat patchy record – he possesses ability but tends to only show it once every four runs. I think his price should be closer to the likes of Quito, Cape Tribulation – though I guess you could argue they all should be longer.
Menorah 0.5pt win @ 16/1
3.05 – A cracking renewal of the Aintree Hurdle which looks wide open. Oscar Whisky is a good place to start having won this race for the last two years. You’ve got to put a really bad run in the World Hurdle behind him to consider supporting him but I think if you can do that then he’s still the classiest horse in here. Ten wins from 16 runs and if you take away the runs over 3 miles his record his 111141131F111111 – the three occassions he didn’t win once was the Supreme beaten 4l, once was the Champion Hurdle beaten 6l and the other time he’d have won bar falling at the last. In a nutshell I think 6s is massive. The poser here is why Barry Geragthy has leapt off him to get on Grandeout. A horse which has carried my money more times than I can remember. He was travelling as well as anything before coming down in the Champion Hurdle and much like Conti it’s impossible to know whether he’d have won – fair to say though that the potential remains untapped. He’s not raced over further than 17f though so your going into the unknown trip wise, though Aintree is a good place to step up in trip. I’d prefer to back Oscar though at the prices. The New One is a cracking novice but I think he’s worth passing over in favour of more seasoned veterans, could rue that but I think this may just come a little soon. Zarkandar gets the blinkers and he will never give up battling but much like the Bowl Nicholls record in here leaves a lot to be desired. His seven runners since 2000 have finished 005F8F3. Countrywide Flame likes the course and is another who will give his running, I tend to think something will prove to good for him though and at 4s he shouldn’t be smaller than Oscar Whisky for me. Prospect Wells and Raya Star look outclassed, while Saphir River is hopefully out of his depth. Thousand Stars has been second the last two years but he’s run a couple of poor races this year, not least last time out. The Irish record is excellent though. Ultimately though I’m hoping Oscar Whisky’s exertions over 3 miles haven’t blunted his ability.
Oscar Whisky 3pt win @ 6/1
Oscar to beat Thousand Stars again? He hopes …
I will update the later races in another post this evening.