AINTREE FESTIVAL (SATURDAY – DAY 3)
It’s finally here the greatest day of horse racing anywhere in the world and we start with a novice hurdle over two miles and four furlongs.
Paul Nicholls won this event twelve months ago and comes here today with the very promising As De Mee; he comes here seeking a hat trick after a good win in a Grade 3 at Sandown last time out and is one that requires respect.
Nicholas Canyon only finished third at Cheltenham when sent off favourite last month but Ruby Walsh maintains the ride and with the going more to his liking today he should make his presence felt again but the seven pound rise could be a concern.
Parlour Games finished just over a length in front of Nicholas Canyon at Cheltenham that day and still comes here on better terms today; he looks very dangerous off this mark and is hard to overlook.
Three Musketeers has a 100% strike for Dan Skelton since coming over from Ireland; he won a Grade 2 at Warwick last time out and if he continues to improve he can grab a place.
Days Of Heaven is another to note after claiming his hat trick in a Grade 2 at Kempton last time out but the step up in trip raises too many questions.
Parlour Games (WIN)
The second race of the day sees a small field of six line up for this event.
No One can forget Balder Succes’s victory in this twelve months ago and we hope we will see another great race again today.
God’s Own appears to be the early favourite but he was still six lengths behind the winner in the Racing Post Arkle last month and runs off of that same mark again today.
Court Minstrel is the only course and distance winner in the field after winning a handicap hurdle here twelve months ago; he has since gone on to win twice and must be a threat.
Solar Impulse has been knocking on the door as of late finding only one too good on his last two attempts at Doncaster and is another with a chance.
Traffic Fluide comes here seeking his hat trick but may find this a stiff task at present but is defiantly one to watch out for in the future but is dismissed at your peril.
Court Minstrel (E/W if 4/1+)
The third race of the day is a three mile Grade 1 Hurdle.
It seems a lifetime ago that Paul Nicholls won this event four times in a row with Big Bucks but he brings Zarkandar here today and has every chance of winning this event again.
Cole Harden beat Saphir Du Rheu at Cheltenham by over three lengths last month and if you saw Saphir’s race yesterday where he beat the field by over fifteen lengths it’s hard to see how anyone has the catching of Cole Harden today even though he carries an eight pound penalty.
Crack Away Jack looked a very promising sort back in 2012 but wasn’t seen again since March this year where he finished a respectable third at Sandown; he can run of a very lowly mark for this and may be one to watch in the market.
Whisper won this event last year but Cheltenham didn’t seem to suit him when finishing fifth behind Cole Harden and Zarkandar; he’s not without a shout at this at all and should be back in the mix once again.
Cole Harden (WIN)
It’s the race before the big one a three mile one furlong chase.
Duke Of Lucca won this event last year but since then he has been competing in cross-country events and has not shown much of his Aintree form in any of them races.
None of these come here on the back of any good form but that shouldn’t make this a good race.
Buywise looks to be the early favourite, with a 50% strike rate it’s not hard that this is the case but he steps up to this trip for the first time and with a slight penalty to deal with it may be worth looking elsewhere for value.
Wonderful Charm drops down in grade for this after finishing third in a Grade 1 here last year; he has been competing in a lot better company than this recently and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him get his nose back in front today.
Vino Griego was second in this race last year and is now seven pounds lower for this renewal today; he hasn’t really shown much since but he likes it around here and at a very appealing price could be good value today.
Wonderful Charm (WIN)
Vino Griego (E/W)
Early favourite One For The Guv’nr has been an impressive performer with four career wins from six, finishing second in the other two. He finished just over a length behind Robinsfirth on his hurdling debut and has won by wide margins in both attempts over hurdles since.
Little King Robin has won two from two over todays’ trip and is likely to head straight to the front to dictate the pace. She disappointed when last seen at Punchestown in February but that was over twenty furlongs and it would be no surprise to see her back to her best over the shorter distance today.
Baltimore Rock has only raced twice since a decent fourth here last year but is respected after beating a number of todays’ rivals at Cheltenham last month when finishing seventh of twenty four in the Handicap Hurdle.
Of the remainder, Forced Family Fun and Rosearrow both have 50% win rates over todays’ trip and could both outrun their respective odds.
One For The Guv’nr (E/W if 9/2+)
Little King Robin (E/W)
We end this years Aint.ree festival with a mares national hunt flat race.
Alan King comes into the race somewhat mob handed with three runners. The King yard has to be respected at this time of year but I just couldn’t decipher which one of his trio to plump for so, maybe foolish of me, I have avoided all three.
At the head of the market we find two Irish raiders in Whistle Dixie and Babylone Des Motte. The Gordon Elliot trained runner was very impressive when winnin three on the bounce but then unseated its rider on its final start. Although that blip can be somewhat forgiven it’s still a relitively uneasey thing to happen and considering the horses short price is probably best looking elsewhere.
The horse that won the race Whistle Dixie unseated in was the Willie Mullins trained Babylone Des Motte. They reoppose today and it’s very intriguing that the Mullins horse has headed to Liverpool instead of Cheltenham. The yard has a plethora of national hunt flat racing talent so it has to be respected with Ruby Walsh on board and is taken to be the likely winner in this.
Of the remaining runners if breeding was the only factor to consider then the Sir Mark Prescott trained Sea Pride would be head and shoulders above its rivals. The four year old filly is out of the sensational Sea The Stars. Although the horse took a few races before getting its head infront it absolutely obliteratd a decent field at Southwell when winning by a whopping eleven lengths. The form of that race perhaps isn’t as good as some of todays rivals but it has to have a great each way claim if it can make further improvement.
Babylone Des Motte (WIN)
Sea Pride (E/W)