There is a tremendous card to open Aintree’s Grand National meeting, one which resembles a Cheltenham Festival fixture, and bookmakers hoping for better results than they got in the Cotswolds, may be in for a tough start to proceedings.
Tomorrow and Saturday may provide the respite, but favourite backers should come out on top this afternoon.
Annie Power was so impressive in the Champion Hurdle, she wills surely follow up in the Aintree Hurdle, over her perceived preferred trip of two and a half miles.
Three of her five rivals were behind her then and it’s hard to make a concrete case for any of them reversing that form now.
Over this longer trip, the selection’s stable companion, the game Nichols Canyon, may be able to snatch second place from My Tent Or Yours.
Cue Card can take the Betfred Bowl for Colin Tizzard and Paddy Brennan. We may never know whether or not he would have stayed the Gold Cup trip at Cheltenham had he not fallen at the third-last, but even if he did, whether he’d have beaten Don Cossack or even finished in front of Djakadam is also difficult to ascertain.
However, over today’s trip and this easier track, he should prove too speedy for the Djakadam.
Don Poli was somewhat outpaced throughout the Gold Cup and will do well to beat the front two in the market this afternoon. He has winning form here this season, but this is a much tougher assignment.
The opening Grade One Novice Chase looks very competitive, and L’Ami Serge gets the nod on the basis this track will help him get home over the two-and-a-half-mile trip. In the JLT Chase at Cheltenham, he showed a terrific turn of pace going off the home turn, but struggled on the hill, and finished only third behind Black Hercules.
There ought to be a good pace from the outset here, and he can sit behind the speed before being produced late to land the spoils. One suspects he is being kept to this trip to avoid a clash with Douvan over two miles, and that decision can be rewarded.
Was pleasantly surprised with the manner in which Rock The World battle up the hill at Cheltenham, running in a competitive handicap off a mark of 146.
This track should prove more suitable and given that was his first run since October, there shouldn’t be any concern about him not reproducing his best form. At double-digit odds, he could represent a small bit of each-way value.
There doesn’t seem any great reason to oppose Ivanovich Gorbatov in the Anniversary Hurdle. Joseph O’Brien’s horse has the potential to develop into a Champion Hurdle contender over the next few seasons, and can be expected to follow up his Triumph Hurdle victory.
Apple’s Jade finished second in the Triumph, and looks the danger once more. She showed a nice turn of foot on the Cheltenham hill but was eventually worn down by a superior rival. Another good run is expected from this classy filly.
Safe to assume that, despite winning, On The Fringe wasn’t seen in his very best light at Cheltenham, but he is entitled to be better for the run, and can follow up last year’s success in the Foxhunters’ Chase.
This two-mile-five trip suits better than the three-two-and-a-half at Cheltenham, and he is preferred to Pacha Du Polder and Marasonnien.
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