It’s a bit early to be putting up posts about the Aintree Festival because we have little idea just which horses will be turning up where, or at all, but I’m laying down a marker.
I’m looking forward to watching Thursday’s fare in a suitable Racing UK furnished hostelry, followed by Friday with the obligatory sparkling drinks and Grand National day at home from start (preview programmes in the morning) to finish with, as usual, probably more interest in the “undercard” than the main event.
On Sunday, Nicky Henderson reported that Altior will be aimed at the Celebration Chase at Sandown and today Willie Mullins said that Footpad will not be traversing the Irish Sea later this week. If I was in the wonderful position of Munir/Souede (if only) then I would be seriously contemplating a trip to France in May, given this one’s predilection for Auteuil, perhaps over the haies (half way houses between hurdles and fences) that he has shown he is so adept at dealing with. It would be something else to see him up against De Bon Coeur in the Grande Course des Haies d’Auteuil but that is perhaps too much to hope for!
Buveur d’Air has also been ruled out of an Aintree run and is looking like he’s on his way to Punchestown later this month.
It’s sad but unsurprising to read about the retirement of Cause of Causes after his abject performance in the Cheltenham Cross Country. He’s been a nailed on bet at the Festival for the last few years and has well and truly earned his relaxation after his halcyon days.
In other news Ryanair winner Balko des Flos will run in the Melling Chase on Friday, Identity Thief will take part in the Stayers’ Hurdle on Saturday and Petit Mouchoir is likely to be favourite in the Maghull Novices’ Chase also on Saturday (which will undoubtedly be called Mag-hull by the racing presenters – as it always is!).
And what about the going? Here we go again (after Cheltenham). Here on the Wirral it poured all day on Saturday, although I’m told that it wasn’t so bad across the Mersey. As usual, I’ve tested the ground in my back garden and it’s soft, heavy in places! However, Aintree is renowned for it’s drying properties.
Here’s the Turftrax view as at 13:01 today:
According to the the generally reliable Accuweather, it’s going to rain tonight, showers on Tuesday, a shower or two on Wednesday, more showers on Thursday and Friday and cloudy on Saturday. As with Cheltenham, my prediction is for soft all round on all courses.
Here are the races to look forward to, ready to be filled and commented on over the next few days when we know the participants.
1.45 Manifesto Novices’ Chase (Grade 1) 2m4f (Mildmay)
2.20 Doom Bar 4-y-o Juvenile Hurdle (Grade 1) 2m 1f
2.50 Betway Bowl Chase (Grade 1) 3m 1f (Mildmay)
3.25 Betway Aintree Hurdle (Grade 1) 2m 4f
4.05 Foxhunters’ Chase 2m 5f (Grand National)
4.40 Red Rum Chase (Grade 3) 2m (Mildmay)
5.15 Mares’ Bumper (Grade 2) 2m 1f
1.45 Alder Hey Handicap Hurdle (Grade 3) 2m 4f
2.20 Betway Top Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 1) 2m 1/2f
2.50 Betway Mildmay Novices’ Chase (Grade 1) 3m 1f (Mildmay)
3.25 JLT Melling Chase (Grade 1) 2m 4f (Mildmay)
4.05 Topham Chase (Grade 3) 2m 5f (Grand National)
4.40 Sefton Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 1) 3m 1/2f
5.15 Bumper (Grade 2) 2m 1f
1.45 Handicap Hurdle (Grade 3) 3m 1/2f
2.25 Mersey Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 1) 2m 4f
3.00 Maghull Novices’ Chase (Grade 1) 2m (Mildmay)
3.40 Handicap Chase (Grade 3) 3m 1f (Mildmay)
4.20 Ryanair Stayers’ Hurdle (Grade 1) 3m 1/2f
5.15 The Grand National (Grade 3) 4m 2 1/2f (Grand National)
6.20 Conditionals and Amateurs’ Handicap Hurdle 2m 1/2f
So, just the 11 Grade 1 races to look forward to!