Ceebee had a winner with L'Ami Serge at Aintree on Thursday and he has bets on Friday including Who Draes Wins and Min in the Melling Chase.
1.35 2m4f Handicap Hurdle
I was going to steer clear but this isn’t as hot a handicap as I thought it might be earlier in the week. The favourite Who Dares Wins is a fair enough price. He was fifth in Cheltenham but strangely is one who could be even better here having not run since November prior to the Fez. He has no Gordon Elliott good things to contend with either and the step back in trip should actually suit; I’m not sure he truly got home the last day after hitting the front late.
The Alan King form is a slight worry so I’m happy to have a small saver on Three Musketeers. The one-time 150 odd rated chaser runs off 138 back over hurdles. If rediscovering his best form he’s well capable of getting involved. He ran fairly well last time out after a short break and this trip and ground look to be the perfect conditions for him.
If you want a real long shot I recommend Court Minstrel. 7lbs coming off puts him on a semi-reasonable mark.
1pt e/w Who Dares Wins at 9/1 with William Hill and Sportingbet
1pt win Three Musketeers at 16/1 with BetVictor and Paddy Power
Shop around for the 5 places e/w
2.20 2m Novice Hurdle
The novice hurdles at Aintree can throw up some very funny results so I’m happy to steer well clear.
2.50 3m G1 Novice Chase
There’s plenty in here I immediately don’t like. Let’s go through them and see what we’re left with.
Snow Falcon won’t stay. Terrefort’s JLT form isn’t as good as it appears; the Irish horses that were 1st and 4th in it are no superstars (Finian’s Oscar has obviously won since but that race today was a really poor G1). Coo Star Sivola won a bad Ultima and Lizzie can’t claim here. Again, like in the RSA, Black Corton won’t get an easy lead so can be taken on. Ms Parfois is another front runner who’ll likely set it up for something else. She is a tough galloper but possibly lacks the class required. If Rathvinden could go by her something will here also. The Alan King form is a negative for Mia’s Storm fans whilst the trip may be an issue for Testify.
Elegant Escape is the selection. A thorough stayer he’ll enjoy the strong pace and soft ground. Despite being beaten 14L, his 3rd in the RSA is arguably the best piece of form in here. The Tizzard yard looks to be in good form and around this sharp track first time cheekpieces are a positive. He’s been a fairly solid force in this sort of 3m novice chase all season so happy to go e/w.
1pt e/w Elegant Escape at 11/2 with Bet365
3.25 Melling Chase 2m4f G1
This looks a two horse race and to my mind there’s only one of the two worth backing.
With hindsight the 2018 Ryanair was bang average. Cue Card was bad, UDS is looking like the years have caught up with him, Sub Lieutenant has been poor all year and Frodon was beaten too far out to suggest he ran his race. Cloudy Dream probably wanted better ground also. Balko des Flos is overrated on the back of winning it. If you rate him through his Lexus effort at Christmas he has more than a few lbs to find. Davy might need to make his own running also which isn’t ideal.
Min was well beaten in the Queen Mother but we must remember Altior is an absolute superstar. Min had 11L to Gods Own and another 5L to Politologue; in a weaker year he’d have been an impressive Champion Chase winner. Only a 7yo with a half-dozen chase starts to his name. Has won over 2m4f and handles soft ground. He’ll get a lead which is important to him but it shouldn’t turn into a dour staying test, that wouldn’t suit. All in all he should have too much for this lot.
4pts win Min at 6/5 with Boylesports
Topham Chase 2m5f
I’ve got a little carried away with this lads – they nearly all get a mention. Selections at the bottom.
O O Seven – fourth in this last year is a decent starting point but that’s where it ends. Poor at Cheltenham last time. Village Vic – wasn’t competitive at his best track so hard to fancy here. Top Gamble – trip would be an obvious worry and tough race on soft ground at the Festival not a positive coming here either. Devils Bride – wants good ground and this sort of trip but unlikely to feature.
Art Mauresque – is one I’ve had in mind for this since his last outing behind Master Dee at Kempton. On that occasion he travelled very wide and jumped out to his left regularly, covering far too much ground as a result. Despite all that he travelled better than anything and hit the front 3out but didn’t quite get home at his first (proper) attempt at 3miles. Finished 4th beaten 9L. Back to 2m5f, left-handed, on ok (hopefully) ground is an absolutely ideal test for him. His 6 wins for Nicholls have come with good in the ground description so I really hope it doesn’t get too miserable. And 4 of those wins were over this middle-distance. He was dropped 1lb for that last Kempton effort, down to 149. His last win came off 150 and he has peaked at 156. His second last effort was chasing home Waiting Patiently at Ascot, well ahead of 4 others rated 163 x2 and 150 x2. This mark of 149 is very workable. Skipped the Festival with this as the target. 20s is an Easter gift.
Flying Angel – is an Aintree G1 winner, just 12mts ago, and he has dropped 9lbs after 2 bad and 2 average (behind Top Notch & Definitely Red) efforts this season. He’s well handicapped on his best but a lack of recent form puts him towards the bottom of the shortlist. Vibrato Valtat – he’s grey and he’s well and truly exposed.
Bouvreuil – well beaten (9/1) in this last year. Usually saves his best for Cheltenham and then runs badly at Aintree (last 3 seasons) but this year he didn’t get to run his race at Cheltenham so could be of interest but doesn’t win very often so not for me. Eastlake – 2016 winner and now 1lb lower than that winning mark (has dropped 13lbs in the last 12mts) but now 12yo this would be a master stroke from Jonjo. Hence it’s hard to imagine.
Ultragold – 50/1 winner of the 2017 Topham after finishing down the field in the Grand Annual. Has since finished 2nd in the Grand Sefton so clearly loves this unique test. 5lbs higher, as a 10yo and poor last time I’d usually skip on but we see so many horses run well year after year on the Aintree National course. Midnight Shot – Poor at Cheltenham and best form is in weak summer chases.
Ballyalton – wasn’t disgraced in the Cheltenham Plate and has other winning experience in big field spring handicaps (2016 Cheltenham Nov Hcap Chase). Now 11yo, although lightly raced, I’d have preference for a fresher horse. Held up with lots of pace on the race will be run to suit.
Bigbadjohn – should improve for his stable switch but it’s a different story entirely to go win something like the Topham. Deauville Dancer – has won in smaller fields and shown little the last twice. Highland Lodge – has history over these fences but will probably find one too sharp for him after being on the front end through-out.
Shanahan’s Turn – ran far better than his finishing position suggests in the Plate. He’d have hated the soft ground and didn’t jump very fluently. It’s the best he has managed since July 2015, quite some time. Back then he was winning the Galway Plate (2m6f on good ground) off 142 (went up to 153). He now races off 134, has had a wind-op and hinted at a return to form on unsuitable ground. If he does put it altogether, he could too, he’ll be incredibly well handicapped.
1pt e/w Art Mauresque at 20/1 with Bet365
0.5pt e/w Shanahan’s Turn at 20/1 with BetVictor (1/5 odds - 6 places)