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Month: April 2012

Aintree Friday

Pleased to see the nap (Edgardo Sol) rout his field on Thursday and Trustan Times was a decent each way saver in the last.

Now to Friday’s card which is at least as good but includes some proper challenges.

2.00 4. Darlan

We start with Aintree’s equivalent of the Supreme Novices’ and that race is the main reference. Darlan is the justified favourite and should see JP’s colours winning before perhaps greater things on Saturday. I selected Propect Wells (7/2) in that race and he was a creditable fifth. Quality on the flat would suggest that Aintree good to soft will suit him down to the ground but Darlan has the edge.

I’ve had a lot of time for Captain Conan and he’s been saved for this one. I think that he has a lot of improvement which can be brought into play here and a couple of weeks’ extra recovery time in addition to the Cheltenham runners may be significant. He won at Sandown (Prospect Wells 4th) so he has to be respected.

Selections: Darlan 6/4 (3pts win); Captain Conan 9/1 (2pts e/w); Darlan, Captain Conan exacta.

2.30 1. Champion Court

I’m a big supporter of Silviniaco Conti (7/4 fav), another with a decent break – last out 24 February – and apparently saved for this. He was identified as a horse to follow in the Nicholls yard at the start of the season and, like others which haven’t completely lived up to expectations, I remain loyal, apart from today! Champion Court was 4 1/2 lengths second to next year’s Gold Cup winner Sir Des Champs in an exceptional Jewson at the Festival and that is unavoidably good form. It’s possible that the race will have left its mark and this is at the Championship distance. He was third and some way back last time he tried three miles plus but I’m just – on balance – in his favour.

Selections: Champion Court 15/8 (2 pts win); Champion Court, Silviniaco Conti exacta.

3.05 2. Finian’s Rainbow

Finian’s Rainbow won the 2m Novices’ Chase here last year. However it’s the win in this year’s Champion Chase which makes him a justified favourite at a current 11/8. Albertas Run (5/2) was a highly creditable second to Riverside Theatre in the best Ryanair yet and he was also second to Master Minded in this race last year, as well as winning it in 2010. However he’s an 11-y-o and Finian’s Rainbow is more likely to get 2m 4f here on a fast, flat track. Albertas has a tendency to rise to the challenge but this time it’s the Henderson horse for me to prevail. If there’s lots of rain overnight (beautiful sunny evening at the moment) Kauto Stone might warrant a place bet in what is currently an eight runner field.

Selections: Finian’s Rainbow 5/4 (2 pts win); Kauto Stone 11/1 (possible 1 pt e/w); Finians Rainbow, Albertas Run reverse exacta.

3.40 9. Apt Approach

Well this is normally a race with a good angle with professional jockeys on decent horses and it seems fairly priced at 7/1 the field. I think that we can narrow this down to a handful. Little Josh (9/1) is one of those small horses who should be overfazed by these fences but is clever over them. He last fell at Kempton in 2009 and he has three decent wins since then but recent form isn’t great. Triangular (7/1) is an understandable favourite. He’s been campaigned in France and his form there is best described as in and out. His UK form is so so but he’s on the upgrade. However there’s every reason to believe that this will be one of his off days. Apt Approach has much better form and he’s my idea of the winner at a good price. Frankie Figg (10/1) appears to love these fences but has a tendency to jump “too well”. Others to consider are Matuhi (25/1), Fabalu (16/1), Gonebeyondrecall (12/1) and Aimigayle. OK, quite a large handful!

Selections: Apt Approach 14/1 (1 pt win and e/w); Aimigayle 14/1 (1pt e/w)

4.15 5. Fingal Bay nap

A 19 runner Grade 1 and an obvious winner in the shape of Fingal Bay. He brings a 100% record to the race and could have been a Cheltenham winner with a much shorter price here were it not for a minor setback. The extended gap (since December) is a positive and the rest are there to make up the numbers. A very confident selection and should be odds on (currently shortened to 6/4).

Selection: Fingal Bay 6/4 (3 pts win)

4.50 8. It’s A Gimme

This race is a nightmare and one to avoid unless you’re determined to have a bet. I’m going on no more than recent form which is not in the highest company but It’s A Gimme did beat Colour Squadron half a length in a maiden at Newbury last November. I’ve followed Robinson Collonges and I have to say that he’s disappointed but might be worth an each way shout.

Selections: It’s A Gimme 5/1 (1 pt win); Robinson Collonges 14/1 (1 pt e/w)

5.25 4. Call Me A Star

What to say about this race?! Probably more difficult than the National because there’s virtually nothing to work with. Buxom (16/1) would be an appropriate winner on Ladies’ Day at Aintree (yes, I’m reduced to that level!). Call Me A Star is an interesting entry and has beaten a few of these in the DBS/EBF Final at Sandown on 10 March. Missunited (10/1) provides a moderate Irish challenge and Doyly Carte (10/1) for Donald McCain is apparently highly regarded. It’s probably best to follow the market and I might well be on the unnamed favourite.

Selection: Call Me A Star (3/1) (1 pt win).

So there we have it for Friday. I’m expecting to be in John Mc’s until late tomorrow night so here are my quick pointers for Saturday (check the decs) including my Grand National selections:

1.45 Simonsig

2.15 Sprinter Sacre

2.50 Thousand Stars

3.25 Chapoturgeon

4.15 (Grand National) Cappa Bleu, Organisedconfusion and Treacle. Also a bet on a female jockey to win.

No bets yet in the remaining races. I may put up a further post on the day.

Good luck!!

Aintree Thursday

Here’s a summary of my selections and general observations concerning this afternoon’s racing.

Prices shown are as at 11.00 p.m. Wednesday.

2.00 – Exacta (first and second in correct order)

First 2. Big Bucks (2/9)

Second 6. Smad Place (6/1)

Big Buck’s is going for his 17th consecutive win and is generally better at Aintree than Cheltenham. He is therefore unopposable but the Tote Exacta (Big Buck’s to beat Smad Place) provides at least some value. Unfortunately I suspect many people will have the same idea, thereby reducing the return.

2.30 – 11. Sadler’s Risk (8/1)

Nicky Henderson and Paul Nicholls are neck and neck in the race to be champion trainer. Consequently they’re bringing out their big guns for these races. This is Aintree’s equivalent of the Triumph Hurdle which was won by Countryside Flame at 33/1. That was a fluke and it seems that with three runners Nicholls can’t decide which of his is most likely to win. I’m therefore siding with Philip Hobbs and Sadler’s Risk, a high quality flat horse who should benefit from Aintree’s flat track.

3.05 – 7. Medermit (5/1)

This is a very high quality race and most will be with Ryanair Chase winner Riverside Theatre (look out for owner Jimmy Nesbit in the parade ring). Hunt Ball is the most progressive in the field (rated only 69 at the start of the season and now 154) but all good runs must come to an end and this is by some way his biggest challenge yet. I’m with the ultra reliable and brave Medermit. He’s battle hardened in this type of company and ran with great credit in third to Riverside Theatre when he was found out by the hill just at the end – no hill here!

3.40 – 3. Boxer Georg (8/1)

Boxer Georg was second to Baby Run in this race last year so he’s proven over the National fences. He’s been targeted for this all season and was “not knocked about” when last running at Cheltenham. Trained by Willie Mullins and ridden by his son Patrick he must have a strong chance.

4.15 – 7. Edgardo Sol (5/1) – nap

At Tuesday’s preview night at Rigbys in Liverpool we were asked to nominate our selections for the whole meeting and I chose Edgardo Sol “wherever he runs”. I saw him win over course and distance last October and I was very impressed with him. He’s worth a look in the parade ring – a big, strong, chestnut gelding who looks an ideal chaser. However he’s been campaigned over hurdles for most of the season and given that he is a chaser, his second in the County Hurdle at Cheltenham is mightily impressive. He’s up a stone in the weights since last chasing but has improved by more than that.

4.50 – 1. Al Ferof (11/10)

Not much value in this one because Al Ferof stands head and shoulders above the rest. Cristal Bonus is a quirky, possibly ungenuine sort, Menorah is a dodgy jumper, Alasi needs to improve a lot to feature here and Pepite Rose has built up her winning run as a result of very careful placing by Venetia.

5.25 – 21. Trustan Times (20/1)

This is the pinstickers’ lottery or the lucky last, depending on how you look at it. Frequently won by a long odds horse. Volador is interesting and Gullinbursti is the likely favourite but I’ve heard good words about Trustan Times, second to bottom in the handicap and trained by canny Malton trainer Tim Easterby, a Classic winner on the flat and son of the great Peter Easterby. He’s not taken to fencing and is now returned to hurdles.

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