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13:45 Aintree 

A field of 22 currently line up for the opening race of the day a Grade 3, three mile handicap.

J P McManus has four horses entered in this with If In Doubt looking the pick of the bunch; he finished third at the Cheltenham festival in a similar race to this where he was just out run by Arpege D’alene, both of these have been raised four pounds off the back of that race so there shouldn’t be much between them again today.

The young Ballycross won a great race in very testing conditions last month at Sandown but the handicapper has penalized him thirteen pounds for that and even with Ryan Hatch’s three pound claim it’s hard to see him turn this in to a double in this slightly stronger race.

The top weight Silsol is another who has been given a penalty from his win at Kelso last week but he’s performed well of his current mark in the past before and maybe on to have a small each way bet on.

The two that stand out to me are Long House Hall and Ubak, both ran very well at high odds in the Coral Cup at Cheltenham last month and even though both have a small penalty there looks more to come from the duo and both look that they will go well for this today.

Long House Hall (E/W)

Ubak (E/W)


14:25 Aintree

The second race of the day looks unfortunately like a one horse race in this Grade 1 twenty furlong Novices’ handicap.

Yorkhill is the obvious market leader having won all his races to date with his win against Yanworth being the highlight, but he has shown on occasions his jumping isn’t 100% fluent and any mistakes around here could cost him badly but its hard to see any of the others posing much of a threat.

Le Prezien looks the obvious danger after his win in a Grade two event at Kelso last month; he is another who’s jumping lets him down at times and never been tried over this distance before is another concern.

Flying Angel has done well in handicap company this year and finished second at Cheltenham last month in a huge field of 24 but this may just be beyond him at this time and it’s harder to give any of the others a strong case.

Yorkhill (WIN)


15:00 Aintree 

Another small field line up for the second Grade 1 event of the day a fifteen furlong Novices’ chase.

Once again the market is led by an unbeaten star in Douvan, the closest any horse has gotten to this great horse is three and a half lengths and that was over fifteen months ago when he was still finding his feet on the track; he want for catching when coming to the last at Cheltenham last month and that story looks to continue here again today with a lot of punters probably looking at a Ruby Walsh double if he rides after his two falls yesterday.

The Game Changer finished fourth behind Douvan last time out which in hindsight was a very good run as he was  coming back from a long break and probably needed that run, to me he looks the horse to finish second here and currently 20/1 in places could be good E/W value money.

Alisier D’irlande hasn’t done much wrong this year winning two out of his last three races and can probably be forgiven for his fall after a very long time away from the track; and even though he does have a lot of speed under him this is probably to much.

Douvan (WIN)


15:40 Aintree

Recent World Hurdle winner Thistlecrack is a very short price to make it five wins from five this season yet, at the risk of ending up with egg on my face I feel that given his breath-taking display at Cheltenham and his wide margin victories against some top class opponents means he is impossible to oppose.

With a field of just six runners the remaining five look destined to fight it out for second place in what could turn out to be a competitive little battle. Prince of Scars beat World Hurdle runner-up Alpha Des Obeaux when last seen at Leopardstown in December and has won two from two over similar distances to today, although he hasn’t been seen since and although runs well fresh he would probably prefer a softer surface than he is likely to get here.

Shaneshill ran a great race when second to Blaklion in the RSA at Cheltenham, who followed up with a hard-fought third in the Mildmay yesterday. He has only failed to make the frame in one of fourteen career runs so warrants plenty of respect for the Mullins/Walsh combo and looks a big price.

However, for anyone looking at the either the forecast or each way option in this race I would have to side with Different Gravey who looks to have been saved for this race and has four wins from five career runs, winning on good and soft ground. This will be his first attempt over this distance but has won comfortably over twenty furlongs and looks to be improving with every race so would be my choice to chase home the hot favourite.

Thistlecrack (WIN)


16:20 Aintree

Mystifiable looks likely to head the market here and with two impressive wins over shorter distances its not difficult to see why he’s been installed as the early market leader. This will be his most difficult task to date and he’s been upped a stone in the weights but given the manner of his victories it would be no surprise to see another strong run, although his price does little to entice me.

The form of Tom George’s runners in recent weeks (60% winning strike over fences) means that Cernunnos needs to be respected. However, the six year old has only managed one win from seven and has never raced over more than two and a half miles before so his current price seems a little short.

Although Knock House is still relatively short in the market at around 10/1 I was impressed with his run in the Kim Muir at Cheltenham when staying on strongly to finish fourth despite trouble in running earlier in the race. He is again partnered by Nina Carberry and has a 60% strike rate for making the frame over fences (three wins and three placed from ten) so is my choice in a typically competitive handicap.

Knock House (E/W)



Pundits Selections (Star Ratings):

Chris Connolly

5* Saint Are

4* Soll

3* Many Clouds

2* Rocky Creek

1* The Druids Nephew


Chris Roke

5* Gallant Oscar

4* The Druids Nephew

3* Goonyella

2* Saint Are

1* Rule The World


Darren Goodbody

5* The Druids Nephew

4* Many Clouds

3* Sir Des Champs

2* Shutthefrontdoor

1* Morning Assembly


Dean Kilbryde

5* Goonyella

4* The Druids Nephew

3* Saint Are

2* Gallant Oscar

1* Silviniaco Conti


Karl Hedley

5* Silviniaco Conti

4* Many Clouds

3* Unioniste

2* Shutthefrontdoor

1* Morning Assembly


Matt Kirby

5* Saint Are

4* Goonyella

3* Many Clouds

2* Just A Par

1* Gallant Oscar


Rory Paddock

5* Le Reve

4* Many Clouds

3* Kruzhlinin

2* Goonyella

1* Ucello Conti



National Final 5



18:10 Aintree

A twenty-two runner handicap for conditional jockeys and amateur riders is how we end proceedings and in another extremely competitive affair I have two selections. The Paul Nicholls four year old Frodon came up short in the Triumph Hurdle at Cheltenham but beat a previous multiple winner in Fixe Le Cap prior to this and has been eased 4lbs since his Triumph run. Exciting young jockey Harry Cobden takes off a further 5lbs and is in great form having made the frame in 50% of all rides over the last two weeks and has a similarly impressive strike rate over the last twelve months when riding for Paul Nicholls.

A case could be made for a number of the runners with Thunder Sheik looking for his hat-trick, Automated heading the market and open to improvement now handicapping and Allee Bleue with a winning strike rate of 50% of races over hurdles, however for my second selection I am siding with Master Jake.

Master Jake races for the in-form Dan Skelton yard and has won three from four over similar distances as todays’ race although so far has done all his winning on heavy or soft ground. He has never attempted racing on better ground so may take to it like a duck to water and is once again partnered by Bridget Andrews who has an 80% winning strike rate over the last two weeks.

Frodon (E/W)

Master Jake (E/W)

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