The last great UK jumping festival of the season and what a belter it is, climaxing of course with the greatest jumps race in the world on Saturday. On to day 1 and lets see if we can get the bank balance rolling.
1.40 Merseyrail Manifesto Novices Chase
The ground will be quickening up after some drying weather and these fences come up fast on the back side of the course. For novices its more the pace they jump at than the trip. I really like Sizing John in this race. His trainer Henri De Bromhead knows a thing or two about smart chasers and the step up to 2m 4f looks a good one for the Douvan runner-up – not once but twice. He has also won over this trip over hurdles as a novice. L’Ami Serge will give him a lot to do and from an outsider I am worried about Bouvreuil who may just improve again for his now in form trainer.
2.15 Betfred 4yo Juvenile Trophy 2 miles
I have made the mistake before of believing that the form of three weeks ago will hold up on this very different track but its hard to see beyond three horses. Diego Du Charmil, after his impressive performance last time out but he has to improve and Ivanovich Gorbartov and Apples Jade. They were dominant at Cheltenham and I expect them to be so again. I also don’t believe that there is a better trainer in the world than Aiden O’Brien and I simply have to be with his charge who I think will be even more suited by better ground and this flatter track.
Another corker of a race with some absolutely top notch chasers. Its boring I know but Cue Card is simply a faster chaser than any other in this race. His fall was so unexpected at Cheltenham and he will put that right here.
3.25 Doom Bar Aintree Hurdle 2 mile 4f
The irony of this race is that the best horses in the race are better over this trip than they were over 2 miles at Cheltenham. My heart says Annie Power will win again. She has gears that the others don’t and she travels so well. My head says something will beat her and it can only be Nichols Canyon or My Tent or Yours. The deciding vote might just be the prices and at 1/2 I cant back Annie so it has to be My Tent or Yours who after 2 years off ran a blinder. So at such a price we have to be with Nicky Henderson’s horse.
4.05 Crabbies Foxhunters Chase 2 miles 6f
A tough race because of the pace and of course the Grand National fences. I have put a ring around 3, Current Event who was second last time out to On the Fringe, Major Malarkey who looks like a big run is not far away and Pacha Du Polder who was ridden last time out to get around and may just have slipped under the radar with his new pilot on board..
4.40 Betfred Red Rum Chase
Its hard to look past Solar Impulse, so convincing was his win at Cheltenham. He travelled really well and won easily, for which he has been penalised. Minella Present looks to be one to keep on the right side of and he has been kept for this rather than rushed for Cheltenham but I like Bright New Dawn. He has got his jumping together and the handicapper says he is the best horse in the race. I think this horse has a touch of class and I want to be with him in this race at what appears to be a big price.
5.15 Goffs Mares Only Nation Hunt Open Flat Race
Warren Greatrex has some terrific mares, the Nipper being one of them. He will know how good La Bague Au Roi is and they like a punt. Gordon Elliot’s mare, Shattered Love is my other against the field.