Aintree Festival Day 1

1.45pm – Manifesto Novices’ Chase

This is such a tough race to solve and for that reason it’ll be a watching brief for me, cases can be made for many and also holes can be picked in many. Cyrname comes in here fresh and his form when just losing out to Terrefort at Sandown is strong, but he doesn’t look too comfortable going left handed and if he jumps out to his right like he did at Newbury that may cost him. Brain Power is a talented horse but my worry with him would be the trip, it’s his first try at a mile and a half and he’s been keen enough over 2 miles in the past and I can see him pulling too hard. Finian’s Oscar has been a touch disappointing over fences so far and he was well held at Cheltenham so needs to pull out more. Rene’s Girl is interesting at the prices, but this is a huge step up from what she’s done so far.

2.20pm – Anniversary 4-Y-O Juvenile Hurdle – We Have A Dream 3pts Win (2/1)

This is possibly my NAP of the week! He’s the joint best horse in the race on ratings and comes into this a fresh horse having missed Cheltenham, unlike his chief market rival and stablemate Apple’s Shakira, who I think will need more of a test than this. We Have A Dream is unbeaten in four starts since moving from France to Nicky Henderson’s yard and the fact the ground isn’t as soft as first feared is a plus for him. Simply put, I feel he’s the best horse in the race and just wins.

2.50pm – Aintree Bowl – Clan Des Obeaux 1pt Each Way (12/1)

All things considered, Might Bite should be winning this, especially if he’s come out of the Gold Cup as well as his handler says he has, but I can’t be backing him at the price after a race as tough as the Gold Cup in that ground. It was a demanding race there is no two ways about that and he might just feel the effects here. Clan Des Obeaux is an interesting contender for Paul Nicholls, who has made no secret of the regard in which he holds this lad in. Not seen since December because of injury, he comes here fresh and raring to go which is no bad thing. Impressive in the mud at Haydock on his penultimate start I don’t think he’ll have an issue getting the 3 miles on his first try at the trip given how strongly he stayed that day. This track will suit him down to the ground as he has shown a liking for flat, left handed tracks with good wins at the likes of the aforementioned Haydock and Newbury. He’s pushed Whisper close on two occasions and with a collateral line of form through Might Bite, shouldn’t be far away. Being just six years old, he hasn’t reached his peak and he has plenty of untapped potential.

3.25pm – Aintree Hurdle – Diakali 0.5pts Each Way (28/1)

A race in which a lot looks to be in Supasundae’s favour and he should win, but once again he doesn’t make a huge amount of appeal at the prices and Diakali provides some nice value in a race where a few of these are on the decline. He has his first run for Gary Moore today since moving from Willie Mullins where he won a pair of Grade 1’s and was third in this contest back in 2014 as a 5 year old. He’s won off a break before and I have doubts about the strength of this race and think it lends itself to some big prices hitting the frame, so Diakali is worth a chance.

4.05pm – Foxhunters’ Open Hunters’ Chase

Not a race for which I have a particularly strong view, Grand Vision has been in great form this season and he ran a cracker at Cheltenham, with the shorter trip here suiting him better and the booking of Jamie Codd an eye-catching one, he looks the one to beat. If the ground isn’t too soft then Wonderful Charm has the class to take this, but he was disappointing last month. But I haven’t had a long look at the race, so I’ll leave it at that.

4.40pm – Red Rum Handicap Chase – King’s Socks 2pts Win (4/1), Tommy Silver 1pt Win (8/1)

King’s Socks went into Cheltenham looking like the typical David Pipe plot for the Brown Advisory and he travelled into the race really well, looking like he wouldn’t out of the first three between 3 out and the penultimate fence. But I think his stamina gave way and he couldn’t find anything extra and finished fifth. Off an unchanged mark he still looks well-handicapped based on his form with Footpad and dropping back to 2 miles should see him go close. Paul Nicholls has his string in fine form at present and Tommy Silver is an improving 6 year old with some good novice efforts to his name. This truer run race will suit him better than the small fields he’s been competing in recently and there should be plenty more to come from him. I’ll be disappointed if I don’t have the winner out of these two.

5.15pm – Mares’ Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race

Getaway Katie Mai wasn’t beaten at all far by Champion Bumper winner Relegate on her latest start and that looks by far the best form on offer in this field. She was well behind Posh Trish in her point to point and that one looks solid given her pair of bumper wins and her third behind a couple of decent looking sorts in a Listed race at Sandown last time. Dissavril won well on debut for Emma Lavelle and would have to be feared. But again not a race that I have a very strong view on.

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