Aintree Grand National Festival – Friday Preview

Leopardstown Christmas Festival - Day One

By Gaurav (12/04/18)

Friday’s Selections:

Alder Hey Children’s Charity Handicap Hurdle 

This is quite a difficult race to begin proceedings and is very much a race where each way betting comes heavily into play. STORM HOUSE has been fairly progressive in his hurdling career is and bred to travel at the distance. Despite this being his handicap debut, he seems to take well to the likely soft ground and has won two of his last starts. The record for the horses in the top of the market for this race doesn’t make good reading, Who Dares Wins, the market leader, ran well at Cheltenham but hasn’t won over hurdles since 2016 whilst questions remain over the Nicky Henderson trained Lough Derg Spirit. 

Betway Top Novices Hurdle

GLOBAL CITIZEN has had quite the career so far and looks a progressive sort who has took well to hurdling. He won a grade 2 at Kempton last time out and that form since has been franked with others going on to win. Vision Des Flos ran well at Cheltenham in a difficult race but questions remain regarding his best trip. Style De Garde was second in the Fred Winer and has each way claims, with Nicky Henderon having won this race 5 of the last 8 running’s but this seems a tougher test.

Betway Mildmay Novices’ Chase

Terrefort was second to Shattered Love in the JLT at Cheltenham and has been a revelation since joining Nicky Henderson’s yard however questions remain over the step up in trip after tiring up the Cheltenham hill on heavy ground. ELEGANT ESCAPE , 3rd in the RSA at Cheltenham, won a grade 2 at Newbury in December, in similar conditions, beating Black Corton, who since has went onto better things however this looks a difficult task at the end of a heavy season for the Paul Nichols trained horse. Mia’s Storm jumped poorly at Kempton in December before falling and can’t be trusted whilst this might be just a little too difficult for Ms Parfois. 

JLT Melling Chase

Whilst Politologue has enjoyed a good season, the step back in trip is a concern as well as being up against a classy field, that is dominated by the front two in the betting who should fight this one out. Min has recovered from a blip at Christmas, by winning the Dublin Chase in February before finishing a credible second to Altior in the Champion Chase at Cheltenham however the step up in trip is of concern. BALKO DES FLOS was an emphatic winner of the Ryanair Chase at Cheltenham, in difficult conditions, overturning odds on shot Un De Sceaux who has since won. That form has to be considered the best in the race and the 7 year old can get on top here.

Randox Health Topham Handicap Chase

A difficult puzzle, with the market leader Theatre Territory at 10/1 however the record for favorites in this race doesn’t read well. ULTRAGOLD won this race last season and then was second in the Grand Sefton at Aintree at December and is clearly a course specialist who should take to the conditions. Each way claims can also be made for BALLYALTON, who is on a competitive mark and ran on to place in the Plate Handicap Chase at Cheltenham. The Nicky Henderson trained O o Seven was 4th in this race last year but hasn’t won for 18 months whilst Poldiam has been poor on his last two outings.

Doom Bar Sefton Novices’ Hurdle

Santini is fairly short priced, considering he didn’t find much at Cheltenham, where he finished 3rd, behind stablemate Ok Corral who comes into the race with solid form in the book. The history of this race however suggests horses who ran difficult races at Cheltenham over the distance, may struggle to find one race more in them and with that in mind, the front two in the market should be swerved. CHEF DES OBEAUX was pulled up in the Albert Bartlett but it is worth giving him another chance and chalking off that run, having won on heavy ground at Haydock previously, in a sequence of 3 wins and looks the value in the race.

Weatherbys Racing Bank Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race

Danny Kirwan missed Cheltenham for this race and was impressive at Kempton last time out however seems very short in a difficult race which hasn’t been good for favourites in the past. PYM was second that day when giving him him weight but still ran well and stayed on. With level weights and officially rated better, the Nicky Henderson trained 5 year old can reverse the form. Servano won his only race easily, as did Arthur Mac but remain inexperienced.

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