No winners today but Rouge Vic and Emitom came close. I should have stuck to my view that some of the Cheltenham runners would not have sufficient time to recover. The truth is that, unsurprisingly, some of them have and some of them haven’t.
The ground has also turned out to be nowhere near as testing as I expected. It is mainly sandy loam which has the ability to dry out very quickly.
Jockey news is that Barry Geraghty suffered a suspected broken leg following a fall in the Topham. He was due to ride Forza Milan in the 1.45, Unowhatimeanharry in the 3.40 and, most significantly, Gold Cup runner up Anibale Fly in the National.
In light of the inherent greater than usual unpredictability, I’m going to keep it really brief.
13:45 Gaskells Handicap Hurdle (Grade 3) 3m 149y – £75,000
Pertemps winner Sire Du Berlais is the current favourite at 4/1, 10/1 bar. Now that was a hard race so I am going to look elsewhere. Mia’s Storm* (e/w) fell twice last season but they were in chases and otherwise the form looks really good (1111FF-11), albeit not at the highest level. 16/1 looks to me like a really good each way option. She’s returning from a 131 days’ break which I regard as a plus.
14:25 Mersey Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 1) 2m 4f – £100,000
The form of Brewin’upastorm* (11/4) and Angels Breath* (7/2) is comfortably ahead of the rest and that’s reflected in the betting. However, both failed to live up to expectations at Cheltenham (Brewin’upastorm fourth in the Ballymore and Angels Breath seventh in the Supreme). Champ was second in the Ballymore and won really impressively today. Fakir D’Oudairies, Felix Desjy and Aramon were all ahead of Angels Breath and all have performed well this week, particularly Felix Desjy who won the Grade 1 Top Novices’ Hurdle this afternoon.
I can’t choose between or beyond them so, unusually for me, I’m going for a reverse forecast (1st and 2nd in either order).
15:00 Maghull Novices’ Chase (Grade 1) 2m – £100,000
The bare form of Us And Them** (11/4) when second in the Arkle (13 lengths behind Duc Des Genievres) and second to Le Richebourg in his previous two races, is impressive and the best on offer. Clondaw Castle and Knocknanuss were fourth and fifth in the Arkle, in which Lalor was pulled up and Ornua fell. Lalor can’t be supported until he shows a return to form but could bounce back. Destrier and Caid Du Lin have yet to prove themselves at this level. Overall I think that it’s between the selection and Ornua.
15:40 Ryanair Stayers’ Hurdle (Grade 1) 3m 149y – £180,000Embed from Getty Images
What do we do with Apple’s Jade? Sixth of seven finishers in the Champion Hurdle, the bubble well and truly burst, but that’s not the only time that has happened at Cheltenham. Significantly, she has shown the ability to bounce back and prior to the Champion Hurdle she had won all her outings this season (three Grade 1s and a Grade 2). She was not overly exerted when beaten and there is no problem with the longer trip. I expect her to win well.
Sam Spinner showed a remarkable return to form when runner up to the brilliant Paisley Park in the Stayers’ Hurdle (Wholestone fifth) but the overall form suggests that this may have been a one off in terms of recent form. Roksana (winner of the Mares’ Hurdle) and William Henry (winner of the Coral Cup) are both decent horses but some way behind the favourite at her best.
On balance this looks like the ideal opportunity for Apple’s Jade**** (15/8) to resume her winning ways, and at a tempting price.
16:20 Betway Handicap Chase (Grade 3) 3m 210y – £75,000
A word of warning. As far as I can remember I don’t think that I’ve ever selected the winner of this race and I don’t expect that to change this time around.
Kildisart** (7/1) ran well in the JLT at the Festival, coming fourth behind Defi Du Seuil, Lost In Translation, impressive conqueror of Topofthegame in this afternoon’s Mildmay Novices’ Chase and now being touted for great things, and Mengli Khan, who ran well in third in the Manifesto Novices’ Chase yesterday.
It’s a mystery to me why Debece (6/1) is the current favourite on the strength of two Class 4 wins this year at Newcastle and Catterick. Perhaps he’s been primed for this, but I can’t have it.
Mister Malarkey is a much better proposition, taking into account his Grade 2 win in the Reynoldstown at Ascot in February and his fourth at 20/1 in the RSA, albeit some way behind the first three.
17:15 Grand National (Grade 3) 4m 2f 74y – £1,000,000Embed from Getty Images
It would be easy and obvious to select Tiger Roll (9/2) and I really hope that he wins. As I mentioned in the Cheltenham preview, his CV is nothing short of spectacular and a repeat victory will make him one of the all time National greats. However, I’m going to pick a few alternatives.
9 Lake View Lad* (14/1)Embed from Getty Images
Trevor Hemmings and the Grand National are synonymous and we know that he acquires horses with the primary intention of having them run in this race.
Winner of the Rowland Meyrick and a creditable third at 25/1 in the Ultima, this horse is very progressive and seems to have had an ideal build up. It’s the first time that he’s been tried at this distance, but the same can be said for many of them. I suspect that this has been the plan for for this 9-y-o for at least a couple of years.
13 Rathvinden** (15/2)Embed from Getty Images
Officially rated just 5lbs behind Tiger Roll, this one won the 4-miler at Cheltenham last season. His only outing to date this season was when winning the Grade 3 Bobby Chase at Fairyhouse in February and he is a top quality candidate for the Mullins/Walsh combination. He’s another who has almost certainly been laid out for this race and it’s interesting that he’s Ruby’s only ride of the day. He also has a very fair weight (11-00). Definitely the biggest challenger to Tiger Roll in my opinion.
33 Vintage Clouds* (11/1)Embed from Getty Images
Another for Trevor Hemmings, he was placed in the Scottish and Welsh Nationals last season and was second in the Ultima at Cheltenham, his only race this calendar year. Another one that has undoubtedly been aimed at this for a long time.
40 Joe Farrell* (20/1)
This one has only just got into the race and therefore runs off bottom weight (10-02). That’s not bad for last year’s winner of the Scottish National (in which Vintage Clouds was third).
18:20 Conditional and Amateurs’ Handicap Hurdle 2m 103y – £50,000
Not much to say about this so I’ll just point out that Ludlow winner Flashing Glance is the Timeform selection at an appealing 16/1.