Here are my brief thoughts about a superb day’s racing tomorrow.
One of my favourite races. An aperitif before the Christmas bonanza. The defection of Un de Sceaux is a big shame and now I find that Simonsig is out as well. Poor to see that racingpost.com still quotes the latter at 11/4. However it does open the race. I’m with Special Tiara (7/2) and I think that he was still a serious candidate before the defections. The course suits.
Henry VIII Novices’ Chase
This is made for Bristol de Mai. The current 13/8 is fantastic value against dodgy opposition (was 15/8 yesterday but still good). This horse was serving his time over hurdles and will be shorter on Saturday.
Really looking forward to this. Who is giving their National candidate a serious test? Some of them are stayers, being sent out for their big day today. I don’t get the support for Algernon Pazham against tried and tested opponents. I’m with Saint Are (10/1) to win. This is a high quality horse that can deliver today. Buachaill Alainn is a horse that constantly stays on at the end and, if on a good day, is outstanding place value at 25/1.
2.15 Aintree 3m+ chase
This is an outstandingly good race but absolutely made with the small field for Don Poli. The current 5/6 is a simple more or less double your money gift.
Grand Sefton (3.20)
This begs a good odds winner and the market reflects it. However, I take the view that quality will prevail and I’m with Rocky Creek (6/1) to deliver. Nicholls has long thought of this one as his serious National contender but, without having to stay, this is a perfect opportunity in itself.
London National (3.35)
This has long been the afterthought of a big day’s racing and the runners are hardly too impressive. However, I have a little thought for Mountainous for Kerry Lee on soft ground. It’s probably a romantic notion but I have a vision of this 8/1 shot staying on at what many people don’t realise is a draining finish, particularly after a long chase.
This is what Bechers used to be. Not any more. The National course still provides a good challenge but the real tests of jumping can now be found in France such as
the Rivières des Tribunes and
Gros Open Ditch at Auteuil and the feared
Taxis in the Pardubice in the Czech Republic.
What we have now at Aintree is a still visually appealing course that most horses get round. The risks now are about the number of runners and speed. It therefore opens up big opportunities for good handicappers such as my selection for last year’s big race.
I’m in strong agreement with Timeform’s Keith Melrose that you should avoid horses that are being tried out for next April. By definition they are not going to be pin sharp for Saturday’s race. However, for staying handicappers this has now become a huge target. Just look at the conditions:
Race Conditions: £140,000 guaranteed For 6yo+ to be ridden by Jockeys or Amateur Riders who, before December 4th, 2014, have ridden not less than 15 winners in chases or hurdles under any Rules of Racing and have ridden not less than 10 of these winners in chases (a novice horse shall only be qualified to run if it has run a minimum of three times in chases in Great Britain, Ireland or France) Minimum weight 10-0 Penalties after November 23rd, a winner of a chase 3lb (no penalty to increase a horse’s weight above 11st 12lb) Al Co’s Handicap Mark 147 Entries 47 pay £ 210 Confirmed 28 Penalty value 1st £78,582.00 2nd £29,554.00 3rd£14,770.00 4th £7,378.00 5th £3,710.00 6th £1,848.00
That’s serious money for the winner and through the places for these type of horses. So, which ones are in the short list?
Chance du Roy
And then there’s the Grand Sefton (£70,000 race). Pretty much all the prior comments apply but perhaps even more so in terms of this not being a race in which to choose Grand National candidates. This tends to be a very fast run race with the focus on those that hunt round and then stay on. With that in mind I’ll look at those declared tomorrow and update this post.
There are also potentially great supporting races including, in particular, the 2.40 3m1f chase in which I’ll be lumping into Sam Winner to beat Holywell (if they both turn up).
Aintree is expecting a full house which will be great for the atmosphere but I’ll be doing my racing the way I like it – in a pub with Racing UK and good friends. Can’t wait!!