1.45pm – Alder Hey Children’s Charity Handicap Hurdle – Who Dares Wins 1pt Win (15/2), Jester Jet 0.5pts Each Way (25/1)
I’m going to have a couple of stabs at this and Alan King’s Who Dares Wins should appreciate dropping back in trip following the Pertemps Final at Cheltenham where I don’t think he quite got home. He’s a Grade 2 winner and his third in last seasons Coral Cup is a solid piece of form that should see him go close to taking this. My second dart is a small each way play on Jester Jet, as those of you that have read my blog before will know how well Tom Lacey has been doing with his horses recently and I struggle to leave them alone! Jester Jet has won 4 from 9 since joining the yard and her Listed second when last seen was a good effort and she can hit the frame at a price.
2.20pm – Top Novices’ Hurdle – Global Citizen 3pts Win (9/4)
The Colin Tizzard pair of Slate House and Vision Des Flos are likely to run well here, but I just can’t look past Ben Pauling’s Global Citizen. He won on his debut for Jonjo O’Neill and was second to a useful sort at Huntingdon in November before moving to Pauling, where he has really shone. Two runs for his new handler have yielded two victories and calling them both emphatic probably doesn’t do those wins justice, at Southwell he could have won by 28 lengths if he’d liked but his 8 length win was more than enough against a dual subsequent winner now rated 139. Then in his Grade 2 Dovecote win at Kempton he put a useful field to the sword and careered away in the home straight. He’s a proper horse and comes into this fresh, I think he’ll be too good. Nicky Henderson has had a good time in this race in recent times, claiming five of the last eight runnings and his Style De Garde has to be noted following his second in the Fred Winter, but he’ll need to find more to compete with the selection.
2.50pm – Mildmay Novices’ Chase – Snow Falcon 1pt Win (7/1)
A competitive renewal of this race where I think the Irish raider is worth chancing. He unseated in the Irish National last time but his form prior to that has been strong, he was second to Mossback on chase debut before finishing behind Death Duty and subsequent National Hunt Chase victor Rathvinden in a Grade 1 at Fairyhouse. He was fifth in the Flogas in February which was a very strong race and I think he’ll benefit from this trip. His previous tries at 3 miles have been promising over hurdles from last season, he was third in a pair of Grade 1’s including the Liverpool Hurdle at this meeting, Noel Meade is in good form with 6 winners in the past couple of weeks and Snow Falcon can catch a few of these off guard.
3.25pm – Melling Chase
Balko Des Flos is officially the highest rated horse in this field and he has obvious claims based on his beating of Un De Sceaux in the Ryanair, but ready preference is for Min to gain revenge for his stablemate. The only horse to finish past the post in front of him in his career to date with Willie Mullins has been Altior and his Champion Chase effort last month is the best form on offer here. The way he won over this trip on Heavy ground on his seasonal reappearance told me he shouldn’t have any problem with this distance in a race of this class. With no Altior to contend with, I struggle to see him beat but his price is prohibitive.
4.05pm – Topham Handicap Chase – Theatre Territory 1pt Win (9/1), Ballyalton 1pt Win (14/1)
When it comes to the National fences, Sam Waley-Cohen is the man to have on-board with 6 wins over them and he gets the ride on the mare Theatre Territory. She’s 0-5 over fences but she’s yet to finish out of the first 3 and she’s a very good jumper, her form behind the likes of Ms Parfois and Mister Whitaker is strong and still off a low mark I can see a huge run coming. Ian Williams’ team are flying at the moment with 4 winners from their last 11 runners and Ballyalton is coming off the back of a good fourth in the Brown Advisory at Cheltenham last time out. He won a handicap at the showpiece festival off 140 in 2016 and his mark of 138 now looks very appealing, if taking to the fences he should be bang there and it’s interesting that the cheekpieces have been removed.
4.40pm – Sefton Novices’ Hurdle – Ok Corral 2pts Win (11/4), Point Of Principle 0.5pts Each Way (33/1 4 Places with SkyBet)
I’m not really sure this is an overly strong race and I still think Santini is raw who won’t quite have the pace to live with stablemate Ok Corral, I expect the Albert Bartlett form to stand up. The latter has had his problems but it seems his connections are striking while the iron’s hot, he has plenty of class given he’s never finished out of the top 2 and was second to Yorkhill at Punchestown back in 2015. Staying on strongly to the line at Cheltenham last month he’s also not short of pace and can take this for another Nicky Henderson winner. Point Of Principle might be worth a small interest bet, Tim Vaughan had Debece finish third in the race last year and it’s noteworthy that he missed Cheltenham with this one. Point Of Principle was 7th in the Grade 2 bumper at this meeting last year and has bumped into some useful sorts over hurdles before getting his head in front last time. He comes here fresh and if getting the trip could just sneak into the frame at a big price.
5.15pm – Open National Hunt Flat Race – Mercy Mercy Me 1pt Win (9/1)
Fergal O’Brien has had a good season thus far and his Mercy Mercy Me won well at Sandown on debut for the yard beating a useful sort of Stuart Edmunds’ who has since won a pair of hurdles and is rated 134. He was then not seen until last month when running a more than respectable eighth in the Champion Bumper at Cheltenham, I think a repeat of that effort would be enough to see him go close here and even though Danny Kirwan was impressive at Kempton, he looks plenty short enough.