We’ve teamed up with BetVictor and Charlie McCann to preview the day’s racing.
A quite wonderful day’s racing with two races over the unique National fences at Aintree including the Becher Chase over the best part of three-and-a-quarter miles on ground likely to be extremely testing come post time.
The 2014 National winner Pineau De Re is down to mark 2lbs lower than when landing the big one and ran his best race for some time when runner up at Sandown in a Veterans’ Chase last time. He must go close but preference, in a wide open race, is for one of the Irish raiders Portrait King (1.40) who was running a big race when falling three out in the National back in the spring. The selection is down to the same mark as when winning the Eider Chase back in 2012 and at 16/1 with BetVictor he can reward each-way support.
Only four to post for the Listed Lotto Chase including the National winner Many Clouds but the Oliver Sherwood trained runner may struggle to give 5lbs to Don Poli (2.15) who disappointed when last seen at Punchestown but looked a potential superstar when running away with the RSA Chase previously. It is possible that these tight turns won’t suit such a long striding horse but I am a big fan of the Willie Mullins six-year-old who will enjoy conditions.
The Grand Sefton Chase is the second race over the National fences and Double Ross ran a cracker in the Paddy Power and can run off the same mark in the finale. Ryan Hatch takes off a valuable 5lbs but top-weight Rocky Creek (11/2 at BetVictor) is entitled to come on for his reappearance at Down Royal and should make a bold bid despite the imposition of 11st 12lbs.
The Grade 1 Tingle Creek is Sandown’s feature and eight go to post in a race devalued by the defection of Arkle winner Un De Sceaux earlier in the week but a fascinating contest nonetheless. Connections of Sire De Grugy were bitterly disappointed with his comeback effort at Exeter believing he was back to something like his best and he is best overlooked at present.
Simonsig (3.00) jumps fences for the first time since March 2013 but the dual Festival winner ran well, at least visibly, on his reappearance over timber at Aintree last month although what that form is worth is open to debate. Barry Geraghty keeps the ride despite the fact that owner JP McManus has a runner in the race and the vibes coming out of Seven Barrows are positive and at 3/1 with BetVictor he should take the besting if settling over the first few fences.
Vibrato Valtat sets the standard (9/4) on his Haldon Gold Cup success but he, seemingly, has his limitations and might find the Lambourn raider too classy.
The Henry VIII Novices’ Chase was won by four-year-olds from 2006-08 but not since that date but Bristol De Mai (1.55) can buck that recent trend for Nigel Twiston-Davies. His flying grey put in an exemplary round of jumping at Warwick last month having run well behind fellow Arkle candidate Garde La Victoire on his chase debut. At 15/8 with BetVictor he can justify favouritism.
No surprise to see Vicenzo Mio (2.25) drop back to the minimum trip having run out of petrol over an additional half mile here returning from a 600 day lay-off last month. The excellent Harry Cobden keeps the ride and is good value for his 7lbs claim.
At Chepstow Elenika (3.05) was too free on his return from a lengthy absence at Wetherby and she will have to be more amenable to restraint on the heavy ground but he showed he retains all his old ability and looks well treated if over last month’s exertions.
On Sunday, Ptit Zig (2.00) didn’t jump as well as he can at Ascot last time behind Vautour but he can get back to winning ways in the Peterborough Chase at the expense of likely favourite and last year’s winner Wishfull Thinking who is rated 5lbs higher than the selection. Al Ferof has his first start for Dan Skelton and is another to consider in a terrific renewal of this Grade 2 Chase.
At Punchestown, Gold Cup runner up Djakadam (1.50) makes his seasonal reappearance over a trip, arguably, short of his best but his class can see him through. Gilgamboa and Valseur Lido are other potential improvers in an excellent Grade 1 John Durkan Chase.
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