Martin Malone

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Aintree 2022 – Friday

Here are my selections for Friday at Aintree

13:45 Handicap Hurdle – Grade 3

21 Mackenberg (28/1 e/w)

14:20 Top Novices’ Hurdle – Grade 1

3 El Fabiolo (4/1); Aucunrisque (12/1 e/w)

14:55 Mildmay Novices’ Chase – Grade 1

4 L’homme Presse (5/4 jf)

15:30 Marsh (Melling) Chase – Grade 1

4 Fakir D’oudairies (5/4)

16:05 Topham Chase (National Course) – Grade 3

1 Royal Rendezvous (10/1); 7 Killer Clown (18/1 e/w)

16:40 Sefton Novices’ Hurdle – Grade 1

8 Gelino Bello (9/2)

17:15 Conditional Jockeys’ Hurdle – Class 2

9 Washington (11/2)

Good luck!

Cheltenham 2022 – Friday

It was a mixed day yesterday with Galopin all but winning the first and now favourite for next year’s Gold Cup. Alaphilippe ran really well in the Pertemps and Allaho was again dominant in the Ryanair. Paisley Park was out with the washing and did amazingly well to come in third in the Stayers’ Hurdle and my best result of the day was Love Envoi winning the Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle.

I think that it’s going to be a favourites’ day in the early races today so I’ve added a few selections at longer odds in the hope of finding some value.

13:30 Triumph Hurdle

Vauban (15/8f); Il Etait Temps (11/1 e/w)

14:10 County Hurdle

State Man (7/2f); I Like To Move It (10/1 e/w)

14:50 Albert Bartlett

Hillcrest (9/4f); Minella Cocooner (9/1 e/w)

15:30 Gold Cup

Protektorat (11/1)

16:10 Hunters’ Chase

Pont Aven (9/1)

16:50 Mares’ Chase

Elimay (5/2)

17:30 Martin Pipe

Adamantly Chosen (6/1)

Good luck!

Cheltenham 2022 – Thursday

A much better day on Wednesday with wins for Sir Gerhard, L’homme Presse and Energumene and a valiant valedictory second for Tiger Roll in the Cross Country.

Just the selections today, confirming those mentioned on Monday, but several now at much shorter odds.

13:30 Turners Novices’ Chase

Galopin Des Champs (5/6 from 11/10)

14:10 Pertemps Final

Alaphilippe (6/1)

14:50 Ryanair Chase

Allaho (4/6 from 4/7) nap

15:30 Stayers’ Hurdle

Paisley Park (17/2 from 7/1)

16:10 Plate

The Glancing Queen (7/2 from 7/1)

16:50 Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle

Dinoblue (7/4 from 9/4); Love Envoi (13/2 from 12/1)

17:30 Kim Muir

School Boy Hours (5/1 from 7/1)

Good luck!

Cheltenham 2022 – Wednesday

Wipeout! No winners at all on Tuesday but a great day’s racing nonetheless.

I liked this contribution:

Constitution Hill was a mighty winner of the Supreme and no doubt the performance of the day with a 22l record breaking defeat of a very good field. Honeysuckle proved that she really is a hurdling great and those two outstanding performances were my takeaways from the day. Onwards!

13:30 Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle

Dysart Dynamo wasn’t going to win the Supreme when falling but I think that Sir Gerhard (4/6) will get Willie Mullins off to a winning start on Wednesday, having closed the first day with his first win of the meeting with Stattler in the National Hunt Chase.

Selection: Sir Gerhard (4/6)

14:10 Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase

I would love to see Ahoy Senor (6/1) follow up on Coragh Rambler’s win for Lucinda Russell and Derek Fox in the Ultima. Bravemansgame (11/4) is probably the best horse in the race but I’m not sure that Cheltenham will play to his strengths. On balance, and marginally, I’ve gone for L’homme Presse (a short enough 7/2) who is unbeaten this season and has course form.

Selection: L’homme Presse (7/2)

14:50 Coral Cup

It’s a wide open renewal as usual so I’ll stick with the two previously selected, who are now leading the market, in the shape of Saint Felicien (6/1) and Camprond (17/2), with a preference for the former.

Selection: Saint Felicien (6/1)

15:30 Champion Chase

With some trepidation after Nicky Henderson’s double on the first day and mainly for value I’m sticking with my selection, Energumene (7/2), to beat hot favourite Shishkin (10/11) and reverse the form after the Ascot race and with conditions suiting the favourite. A contrary view in the face of the available evidence but, why not, given that they are both very, very good horses and could maintain the rivalry for some time to come?

Selection: Energumene (7/2)

16:10 Cross Country

Well, in all likelihood, he’ll win it easily or bomb out. This is almost certainly Tiger Roll’s swansong and I’ll stick with him, notwithstanding his drift in the market.

Selection: Tiger Roll (7/4)

16:50 Grand Annual Chase

As previously posted, my shortlist was Embittered (11/1), Frero Banbou (14/1) and A Wave Of The Sea (25/1) and, without a great deal of reflection, I’ve opted for Frero Banbou for Venetia Williams and Charlie Deutsch.

Selection: Frero Banbou (14/1)

17:30 Champion Bumper

The market for this has settled down a bit after the euphoria about Facile Vega (6/4). I think that there’s probably little between him and American Mike (11/4) so, primarily based on the prices, I’m sticking with the latter.

Selection: American Mike (11/4)

After the first day you could reasonably treat this is a list of ones to exclude but I remain optimistic for a profitable day. Good luck!

Cheltenham 2022: Tuesday

As usual in recent years, the going (on Sunday afternoon as I’m typing this) on the old course (used on Tuesday and Wednesday) is good to soft, soft in places. The Accuweather daily rain forecast is Monday 2%, Tuesday 25%, Wednesday 89%, Thursday 0%, Friday 0%.

Declarations were published on Sunday morning and there are no big surprises.

13:30 Supreme Novices’ Hurdle

As widely predicted, Sir Gerhard is routed to the Ballymore on Wednesday. There are five main players. Dysart Dynamo and Constitution Hill are current joint favourites at 9/4, Jonbon is 9/2, Kilcruit is 6/1 and Mighty Potter is 8/1.

Dysart Dynamo (164p) is unbeaten in four outings, two in bumpers and two over hurdles. He has form on soft, good to soft and heavy. He was mightily impressive last time out in the Moscow Flyer Hurdle at Punchestown on 16 January and looks like the most likely winner.

Constitution Hill (162P) is also unbeaten in two. He won the Grade 1 Tolworth on heavy ground at Sandown on 8 January (Shallwehaveonemore 4th). This is a very different challenge and there are question marks concerning the quality of his wins, albeit that they were visually impressive.

Jonbon (165p) is an expensive brother of Douvan and, like Dysart Dynamo, is unbeaten over four. All his form is on good to soft/soft. I suspect that this is a marking time season on the way to be an outstanding chaser.

Kilcruit (158p) was second to Sir Gerhard in last year’s Champion Bumper but his form this season has been not as good as many expected. Improved with a shorter distance and the application of a tongue strap last time out in a modest maiden hurdle, he would need to improve a lot to land this.

Mighty Potter (160p) was beaten by Statuaire and My Mate Mozzie in the Royal Bond, but redeemed himself with a far from fluent and novicey win in the Future Champions Novice Hurdle at the Leopardstown Christmas Festival. He would need to improve considerably from both runs and may well do so but this is a very high quality renewal and I can’t have him.

Selection: Dysart Dynamo

14:10 Arkle Novices’ Chase

The top three in this are all exposed: Edwardstone (5/2), Blue Lord (4/1) and Riviere D’etel (7/2). The one open to significant improvement and my selection is Haut En Couleurs (7/1). He was third in last year’s Triumph Hurdle and the Punchestown Champion 4-y-o and made a winning start over fences in a Beginners’ Chase at Leopardstown in December. He fell early on in the Irish Arkle but, ironically, I really like his jumping style and his 172p Timeform rating is good enough for this.

Edwardstone (177) has done nothing wrong and could well run out as an easy winner but the 7/1 available for Haut En Couleurs is very tempting.

Selection: Haut En Couleurs

14:50 Ultima Handicap Chase

This is a very open race (currently 13/2 the field) and my idea of the winner is novice Does he Know (7/1). The presence of Frodon as top weight means that he carries 11st. He has good Cheltenham form and his best performance to date was last time out, winning the Grade 2 Reynoldstown Chase at Ascot on 19 February.

It would be great to see Frodon (12/1) win this but it’s a tall order off top weight (with a margin) in a handicap.

My idea of a lively outsider is Our Power at 14/1, another progressive novice who could provide former jockey Sam Thomas with his best training achievement to date.

Selection: Does He Know

Outsider: Our Power

15:30 Champion Hurdle

The easy and obvious choice is defending champion Honeysuckle (4/7), looking to extend her unbeaten record to 15. She’ll probably do it but there’s no value in the price. There are question marks over what she’s beaten and she was not so impressive, albeit winning last time out in the Irish Champion Hurdle.

I think that Appreciate It is a very special horse. Second to the sadly sidelined Ferny Hollow in the 2020 Champion Bumper and a 24l winner of last year’s Supreme Hurdle, I don’t think that Honeysuckle has ever met one as good as this. Of course the racecourse absence of 364 days since then is a major concern but if he’s back to his best then, at 4/1, he’s a great value choice.

Selection: Appreciate It

16:10 Mares’ Hurdle

This is trappy and good cases can be made for several of the leading contenders. Telmesomethinggirl (3/1) is probably the right favourite. Stormy Ireland (5/1) lost her way and spent an unproductive spell with Paul Nicholls before returning to Willie Mullins where she has done much better, including winning the Grade 2 Relkeel at Cheltenham on New Year’s Day. Burning Victory (8/1) won the 2020 Triumph Hurdle and was second in the Cesarewitch, before seeing off Queens Brook (9/2) in a Grade 3 at Punchestown on heavy last month. However, Queens Brook was given a lot to do and was closing on the winner and, like many, I prefer her to reverse the form.

Selection: Queens Brook

16:50 Fred Winter Handicap Hurdle

This is an intriguing race and could perhaps produce one of the easiest winners of the week. It’s all about the handicap, the favourite, Gaelic Warrior (9/4), and the hype. This horse has never run in the UK or Ireland and has only ever run at Auteuil where his form is 633, last time in the relatively minor Rocking Chair Hurdle in June 2021. Owner Rich Ricci has confessed that he’s never even seen the horse but the reports are that he’s very, very good and has been mentioned as a nap of the meeting at several previews. He hasn’t got a lot to beat here (including a number who are most likely in it to give the owners a runner at the Festival) and I’m going to take a chance.

Selection: Gaelic Warrior

17:30 National Hunt Novices’ Chase

Although the distance has been reduced to 3m 6f, this still requires a tried and tested thorough stayer and a top amateur jockey. I am inclined against the top two in the market, Run Wild Fred (Jamie Codd – 2/1) and Stattler (Patrick Mullins – 9/4), so I’m going with 2021 Albert Bartlett winner Vanillier (Derek O’Connor – 4/1). His season has been unspectacular but I listened to an interview this morning with his trainer Gavin Cromwell who thinks that he’s got him right and I think that the extra distance will suit him down to the ground.

Selection: Vanillier

We don’t yet have the declarations for the remaining days and much depends on which horses end up in which races but I’ve set out below my current selections and intend to update them during the week.

Wednesday

13:30 Ballymore

Sir Gerhard (4/5)

14:10 Brown Advisory

L’homme Presse (4/1); Ahoy Senor (5/1)

14:50 Coral Cup

Camprond (8/1 from 18/1); Saint Felicien (8/1)

15:30 Champion Chase

Energumene (7/2)

16:10 Cross Country

Tiger Roll (5/4)

16:50 Grand Annual

Embittered (7/1); A Wave of the Sea (16/1); Frero Banbou (12/1)

17:30 Champion Bumper

American Mike (9/4)

Thursday

13:30 Turners Novices’ Chase

Galopin Des Champs (11/10)

14:10 Pertemps Final

Alaphilippe (6/1)

14:50 Ryanair Chase

Allaho (4/7) nap

15:30 Stayers’ Hurdle

Paisley Park (7/1)

16:10 Plate

The Glancing Queen (7/1)

16:50 Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle

Dinoblue (9/4); Love Envoi (12/1)

17:30 Kim Muir

School Boy Hours (7/1)

Friday

13:30 Triumph Hurdle

Vauban (13/8) n.b.

14:10 County Hurdle

State Man (4/1)

14:50 Albert Bartlett

Minella Cocooner (7/1)

15:30 Gold Cup

Protektorat (8/1)

16:10 Hunters’ Chase

Pont Aven (8/1)

16:50 Mares’ Chase

Elimay (2/1)

17:30 Martin Pipe

Good Risk At All (7/1)

Good luck!!

Great racing this weekend

We have some great National Hunt racing to look forward to over the next few days with the declarations ensuring that this an even better weekend than usual.

This is as much a reminder for me as anything so here goes:

Friday

Wetherby

14:05 Ahoy Senior (10/11) (one of the best horses Lucinda Russell has had for a while)

15:15 Porticello (11/8) (Gary Moore top prospect); Too Friendly (100/30); Sacre Pierre (6/1)

15:50 Magic Saint (9/2); Good Boy Bobby (11/4)

16:25 Larch Hill (9/2)

Uttoxeter

14:48 Flic Ou Voyou (9/4) (chasing debut for Nicholls)

Down Royal

13:10 Hollow Games (1/4) (a Ballymore prospect for G Elliott)

13:45 Party Central (13/8) (another top prospect for Eliott)

14:20 Zanahiyr (4/9) (leading Cheltenham candidate last season and potentially more to come – really should win this)

16:05 Arahecan (is the RP nap at 10/1)

16:35 The Mediator (5/6) (unraced for G Elliott)

Saturday

Down Royal

13:05 Fil Dor (debut for G Elliott – watch the market)

13:40 Mighty Potter (yet another interesting debutant for Elliott)

14:15 Charli Parcs (20/1) (not expecting anything from him (now with Aidan Howard) but may improve on 5th last time out). Hearts Are Trumps (22/1) is another who has lost his way but might just run into a place.

14:50 I favour a fresh Frodon (9/2) over Gold Cup winner Minella Indo (evens) at this early stage in the season.

15:25 Envoi Allen (4/11) should win this easily.

Wetherby

13:20 Gericault Rouge (7/2) a likely improver

13:55 Molly Ollys Wishes (100/30) is a confident selection and could have an exciting season ahead.

14:20 Paisley Park (9/4); Thomas Darby (7/2); Master Tommytucker (5/1 and interesting over hurdles). Take your pick.

15:05 Cyrname (6/5) on a redemption mission; Shan Blue (5/1); Fusil Raffles (13/2) my selection

Ascot

14:10 Boothill (7/2) an unbeaten and potentially exciting prospect

14:45 Editeur Du Gite (100/30) won the Red Rum and was followed home by Sully D’oc AA (6/1). A forecast for a repeat?

15:20 Vinndication (3/1) one to watch

Sunday

We await the declarations but races of interest include:

Carlisle 14:00 Chantry House, Fiddlerontheroof, Sporting John

Cork 14:25 Beacon Edge, Bleu Berry, Diol Ker, Run Wild Fred

Cork 15:00 Eleazar Des Neiges, Agent Boru

Overall, we’ll know a lot more after the weekend but it’s worth bearing in mind that, in Ireland, the Down Royal meeting tends to be a benefit for Gordon Elliott, particularly for debutants or near-debutants and WP tends to avoid it. My most interesting candidates?

Ahoy Senior

Porticello

Flic Ou Voyou

Hollow Games

Frodon

Envoi Allen

Molly Ollys Wishes

Fusil Raffles

Boothill

Chantry House

What a treat in prospect! Just for fun, a 9 fold on the Friday and Saturday selections would deliver a 10,000/1 return. Yes, of course I’ve done it! Much better odds than the Lottery.

I’ve also done:

Ahoy Senior, Porticello, Flic Ou Voyou, Hollow Games, Frodon, Envoi Allen and Fusil Raffles accumulator at 679/1

Ahoy Senior, Porticello, Hollow Games, Frodon, Envoi Allen and Fusil Raffles accumulator at 226/1

Ahoy Senior, Porticello, Frodon and Envoi Allen as a Lucky 15 for a potential return of £117.49.

Let’s hope that the first two at Wetherby on Friday deliver.

Good luck!

Chepstow 8 October

The Chepstow October meeting is, for me, the proper start of new National Hunt season and this year’s renewal is perhaps one of the best yet.

13:00 Novices’ Hurdle 2m 11y

We get off to a great start with a Class 4 novices’ hurdle but featuring unbeaten Knappers Hill making his hurdles debut after an impressive win in the Aintree Grade 2 bumper. Unsurprisingly a 1/5 shot.

13:35 Novices’ Chase 2m 7 1/2f

A four runner Class 2 novices’ chase and another potential star, this time in the shape of Threeunderthrufive (6/4) who, as the Racing Post verdict says, “is a very exciting prospect for the season ahead”.

So, we have a winning double before race three (I love the early season).

14:10 Veterans’ Chase 2m 7 1/2f

Some great names here – Geordie Des Champs, Potters Corner, Vieux Lion Rouge, Double Shuffle and Dancing Shadow. Not a strong view here but I’m just inclined towards Geordie Des Champs (9/2) to make it a three timer after a break of 113 days.

14:45 Persian War Novices’ Hurdle 2m 3 1/2f

The first Grade 2 of the season and, generally, a good marker for what lies in store. It’s a Nicholls Henderson head to head on the face of it with Paso Doble and First Street but I’m going with Coeur Serein to make it four wins in a row at 5/1 for Jonjo O’Neill (senior and junior). I may also hazard a minor place bet on Hidden Heroics (14/1), a Fairyhouse point to point winner on his only previous outing, bought for £60,000 and could be anything.

15:20 Paul Ferguson’s Jumpers To Follow 4-y-o Hurdle 2m 11y

I don’t normally add the sponsor’s name to these previews but had to give credit to the excellent Paul Ferguson who many of us know from various Liverpool haunts (generally Dominic and Fiona’s). It’s great to see him recognised at this prelude meeting. That said, this is appropriately a very difficult race and I’m taking a chance with Hell Red (100/30), a promising horse who may have run with a lot more in store when 9th in the Boodles’ at the Cheltenham Festival and subsequently won well in a Class 4 at Newton Abbot last April.

15:55 Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle 2m 3 1/2f

Nina The Terrier (13/8) should win this with something in hand.

16:25 Conditionals’ Handicap Chase 2m 7 1/2f

A total lottery. Best avoided.

Good luck!

Aintree 2021 – Grand National Day

13:45 Handicap Hurdle – Grade 3 – 3m 149y

This is a wide open hurdle but there is a lot to like about the current favourite, Come On Teddy* (15/2) who won a 3m Cheltenham handicap hurdle last December and was an excellent 3rd in the Pertemps Final. I also like Polish (9/1) for a place.

14:20 Mersey Novices’ Hurdle – Grade 1 – 2m 4f

The first Grade 1 of the day and I’m very keen on My Drogo*** (2/1) who I’ve followed all season and is unbeaten over hurdles. Distance, ground and course should all suit and he’s a confident selection.

15:00 Maghull Novices’ Chase – Grade 1 – 1m 7f

Shishkin***** (1/6) is the British star of the season and is impossible to oppose. He’s Timeform’s highest rated novice chaser (188P) and this is just another step on the road to greatness. He’s currently 6/4 for next year’s Champion Chase which, even with 339 days to go, still looks like good value.

15:35 Ryanair Stayers’ Hurdle – Grade 1 – 3m 149y

The horses at the top of the market often turn up against each other and this season it’s one all between Thyme Hill** (9/4) and Paisley Park. The latter hasn’t been entirely convincing this season. Both course and ground should suit Thyme Hill better. Roksana was a decent second to If The Cap Fits in this race in 2019 and was third in the Mares’ Hurdle at Cheltenham last month. 10/1 bar the top three looks about right.

16:15 Handicap Chase – Grade 3 – 3m 210y

This isn’t the strongest of races and could easily go to a long odds shot. Happygolucky was second to Vintage Clouds in this year’s Ultima Chase but was a beaten 100/30 favourite.

Top Notch* (8/1) is no longer…top notch, but may still yet be good enough to win this. A 10-y-o, he was third in the Paddy Power Plate (behind The Shunter and Farclas). Although allocated top weight of 11st 12lb, claimer Luca Morgan (who rode him last time) takes off 7lb and both ground and course should suit.

17:15 Grand National – Grade 3 – 4m 2f 74y

Cloth Cap is the right favourite but has drifted slightly in the market. He’s still too short a price for me.

The National always has a story and this year I think that it will be the first woman rider to win the race with Rachael Blackmore riding Minella Times** (10/1) for Henry de Bromhead. He has great form, particularly with Rachael on board and is easily good enough to win if he stays. He’s never run beyond 3m and most form is on soft or heavy but he’s a top class 8-y-o with an attractive weight of 10st 3lbs

Any Second Now is another for J P McManus and Ted Walsh has prepped him with this in mind and he knows how to win the race.

Another JP horse, Anibale Fly, was fourth and fifth in the last two Nationals and could easily run into a pace at an appealing 28/1. Another place prospect is Mister Malarky at 33/1).

18:20 Weatherbys Bumper – Grade 2 – 2m 209y

The meeting rounds off with this bumper in which the Nicky Henderson trained Balco Coastal* is the justified favourite at 15/8 based on his very impressive last outing at Kempton.

Good luck!

Aintree 2021 – Friday

It’s a busy evening so just the selections for tomorrow.

13:45 Pertemps Hurdle – Grade 3 – 2m 4f

A predictable wide open race and I’ll just about side with Wilde About Oscar* (17/2).

14:20 Top Novices’ Hurdle – Grade 1 – 2m 103y

I’m willing to take another (or is it third?) chance with Third Time Lucki* (7/2).

14:50 Mildmay Novices’ Chase – Grade 1 – 3m 210y

Chantry House*** (7/4) should be well suited by the step up in trip to 3m after an impressive win in the Marsh at Cheltenham.

15:25 Melling Chase – Grade 1 – 2m 3f 200y

I’m hoping that Fakir D’oudairies*** (3/1) will do one better after following home the imperious Allaho in the Ryanair.

16:05 Topham Chase – Grade 3- 2m 5f 19y (National course)

Visioman** (8/1) has long been targeted for this although he is facing tough opposition. The top combination of Rachael Blackmore and Henry de Bromhead will hopefully add this to their impressive tally.

16:40 Sefton Novices’ Hurdle – Grade 1 – 3m 149y

Bravemansgame should win this after a decent third in the Ballymore but I’m siding with the fifth in the Albert Bartlett, Alaphilippe* at a very attractive 18/1 (e/w).

17:15 Pinsent Masons Conditionals’ and Amateurs’ Hurdle – 2m 103y

A bit of a lottery as usual and I’ll watch out for any market movers. However, for now, I’m inclined towards Leoncavallo* (10/1) who was a decent sixth in the Martin Pipe, the equivalent race at Cheltenham and could well improve.

Good luck!

Aintree 2021 – Thursday

It’s been a busy week so just time for a few quick selections this evening.

13:45 Manifesto Novices’ Chase – Grade 1 – 2m 4f

A great race to get us under way and I prefer Fusil Raffles*** (3/1) who was an excellent second to Chantry House and ahead of Asterion Forlonge, subsequent winner Chatham Street Lad and Shan Blue in the Marsh. Ground should be fine. I’m yet to be convinced about much-touted Hitman who fell in the Scilly Isles and was beaten by Allmankind in the Henry VIII. The Shunter is taking a big step up and Eldorado Allen has a second in the Arkle to his name but was flattered by that result among the also rans behind Shishkin. Umbrigado at 11/1 is worth a look for a place but bear in mind that there are only 7 runners, therefore first two only unless you get an offer from the bookies (of which there will be many available for the first race).

14:20 Doom Bar Juvenile Hurdle – Grade 1 – 2m 209y

This is between to first two in the market and Monmiral**** (11/10) is a confident choice ahead of Adagio. The selection bypassed Cheltenham and should be ideally set up for this. Adagio was a fine second in the Triumph but this is after the Lord Mayor’s Ball and he may not yet have fully recovered from that effort.

14:50 Betway Bowl – Grade 1 – 3m 210y

Clan Des Obeaux*** (3/1) was the coming Gold Cup champion for a couple of seasons but it turned out that the blue riband at Cheltenham wasn’t suited to him. However he won the King George in 2018 and 2019 and his form this year is 232. This race is ideal for him to bag a Grade 1 this season and I’m surprised at the generous price. First time cheekpieces is an added bonus.

He’s also a class apart from the opposition. Waiting Patiently is a fine horse but not just quite at the top level (although this course will suit). Tiger Roll just shouldn’t be in this race. He could spring a surprise but could equally be tailed off quite early. Admittedly, I was surprised by his return to form in the Cross Country but this is an entirely different proposition. Clondaw Castle is my idea of the second in the race. Native River doesn’t have his ground and had a hard race when fourth in the Gold Cup. Mister Fisher could just run into a place but jumping is a big question mark.

15:25 Aintree Hurdle – Grade 1 – 2m 4f

This is often described as the middle distance hurdle race that is missing from the Cheltenham Festival and is normally a race of the highest quality. This isn’t the greatest renewal. I’m disappointed that Jason The Militant** (100/30f) is the new favourite because I was looking for a bit of value. Nonetheless, he remains my selection. Abacadabras is a decent horse who fell early on in the Champion Hurdle but this is the first attempt beyond 2m and I’m not sure that it will suit. Mcfabulous is a talking horse who is yet to prove his credentials at the highest level. Brewin’upastorm could run into a place. Buveur D’air is the Henderson hurdling equivalent of Altior over fences – obviously the season has not gone to plan and best watched.

Song For Someone** (12/1 e/w) is a horse that I added to my “to follow” list long before he blossomed. He started this season with two Grade 2s at Ascot and Cheltenham, before being beaten by Goshen in the Kingwell. I’m willing to forgive him that and, on that basis, it’s a very close call between him and the selection. Reverse forecast? Bet placed.

16:05 Foxhunters’ Chase – National course – 2m 5f

Thank goodness that the amateurs are back! I won’t necessarily have a bet but, if I do, I’ll be opposing Billaway who had a hard race at Cheltenham and may not be quite ready for this. He also has a tendency to fall just short in the big races. Sametegal is a veteran chaser who is here on this basis but I don’t think that he’s the obvious choice, albeit that he’s proven over the fences. Cat Tiger* (13/2) is, for me, a better proposition who, at just 7 years old, could be on the start of an Aintree roll (note the choice of word and the second name of the horse) for Corinthian and very competent jockey David Maxwell and trainer Paul Nicholls.

Of the remainder, Jamie Codd was invited to extol the virtues of Mighty Stowaway at a preview night yesterday evening and didn’t. For old times’ sake but with no confidence I’d be delighted to see 13-y-o Ucello Conti thereabouts but I’m afraid that PU is more likely.

16:40 Red Rum Handicap Chase – Grade 3 – 1m 7f

This often turns up a long odds winner. On straight form, second favourite Getaway Trump should win and has the right course but he’s inconsistent, while not being campaigned at the highest level. Editeur Du Gite for the Moores should like the course and ground but, if I do have a bet, it will be on Dostal Phil* (16/1 e/w), an 8-y-o for Philip Hobbs, who could be turning into a half decent chaser. Sully D’oc AA is respected as place option.

17:15 Mares’ Bumper – Grade 2 – 2m 209y

I wouldn’t normally be paying too much attention to a race like this but we have a star on show in the shape of Eileendover**** (10/11f). She’s a dual purpose horse who could well be seen at Royal Ascot. She’s also well ahead of this field in an ideal race on ideal ground and the only serious threat is Elle Est Belle who I backed when she was third in the Champion Bumper. It’s currently 14/1 the field after the first two in the market and the only other one of note is Miss Lamb who was comfortably beaten by Eileendover at Market Rasen.

So, here is the lowdown:

1.45 Fusil Raffles

2.20 Monmiral

2.50 Clan Des Obeaux

3.25 Jason The Militant

4.05 Cat Tiger

4.40 Dostal Phil

5.15 Eileendover

Lucky 15:

Fusil Raffles

Monmiral

Clan Des Obeaux

Eileendover

A £30 Lucky 15 could deliver £415.21. Bet placed.

I’m now going to watch the Road To Aintree with Lydia Hislop and Ruby Walsh on Racing TV to see what they think and probably find that I’m changing my mind!

Good luck!

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