1 45 – Manifesto Novice Chase (Grade One)
I love Top Notch and have followed his novice chasing campaign all season and selected him to topple Yorkhill at Cheltenham. Although he fell just short, you can’t knock the run and if anything he improved again. For betting purposes I’m siding with Frodon. He’s raced frequently in open and novice company; seemingly placed to perfection each time by the master Paul Nicholls. He likes to race from the front and looks set to continue with this tomorrow – Top Notch also sticks close to the pace and can lead if needs be. I can see Frodon setting a strong gallop and Top Notch just not being able to get pass in the closing stages. The field size creates a tactical affair and if Sam Twiston-Davies can get it right on Frodon, the 5YO holds a great chance at a nice price.
2 20 – Juvenile Hurdle (Grade One)
Defi Du Soleil (No Bet)
Phillip Hobbs’ 4YO record speaks for itself and this test is lesser than what he faced at Cheltenham. The price difference between Divin Bere and Flying Tiger is remarkable and if there is a bet in the race, logic would suggest a token on the latter.
2 50 – Aintree Bowl (Grade One)
Empire of Dirt 5/2
Empire of Dirt is a different proposition stepping up in trip and I’m happy to run a line through the Ryanair effort. The run in Ireland before was more than encouraging and the Sizing John form now looks stronger than ever. As much as we all love Cue Card, for the first time, a bet at 6/4 holds obvious risk. None of the outsiders are consistent enough, although a big run from the likes of Bristol De Mai or Silviniaco Conti could easily upset the apple cart.
3 25 – Aintree Hurdle (Grade One)
Buveur D’Air (No Bet)
A similar situation to the juvenile race, I simply cannot see the warm favourite getting beat and there’s not much point in explaining the reasons. My Tent Or Yours would hold a case for an outside shot if there was a bigger field and two if he was racing over two miles. Identity Thief is an interesting proposition; although some prize money lower down the pecking order seems an obvious target for the smooth Henry De Bromhead. Moving on…
4 05 – Foxhunters
Pacha Du Polder 4/1 & Black Thunder 28/1 EW
On The Fringe arguably still holds the right to edge favouritism, but there’s no obvious reason why Pacha Du Polder won’t again cross the line in front. Reputation gets you a long way in racing, but once the flags come down it gets you nothing. Pacha Du Polder is running better than ever and has plenty of experience at Aintree. Black Thunder was a big EW shout at Cheltenham and I’m happy to throw a dart Warren Greatrex’s old timer again after being pulled up in March.
4 40 – Red Rum Chase (Grade Three)
Double W’s 7/1 & Gino Trail 16/1 EW
Double W’s was another festival bet and looked promising for the majority of the trip. Ultimately he didn’t stay and back down at 2M should hopefully prove he belongs at this level. He travels best out front and will likely take the field a long at a pace. The ground should be near enough perfect and connections have always been sweet on him. Gino Trail is another front runner and at a bigger price should have a say in proceedings. The ground is a gamble but he seems to be finding his best form towards the twilight of his career. There is definite EW value and a mark of 145 hasn’t yet been a real stumbling block.
5 15 – Mares’ Bumper (Grade Two)
Petticoat Tails 3/1 & Mountain Path 16/1 EW
A tricky heat to feel strongly about for obvious reasons and it’s hard to get away from Petticoat Tails. The Sandown second is probably the best form on offer; although a number are unexposed with very little to go on. None of the big hitters have raced again from that race, although the well thought of Redhotfillypeppers again disappointed in Ireland. Mountain Path is an interesting candidate and beat Shearling on her only start. She has since moved to Jonjo O’Neill and at the price is worth an EW punt. Like I said, it’s not a race to get your wheelbarrow out of the shed for and don’t go chasing come the last race of the day on this occasion…