Friday, 15 April 2016

Aintree - Day 2

Day 2 of the Aintree Grand National meeting.

I felt the ground was riding much slower on the hurdles course than on either of the chase courses, yesterday.

There has been no rain at the track in the last 24 hours, so conditions will have quickened slightly.
That said, it is hardly drying weather, so I don’t expect too much difference in the ground…

Todays races don’t look particularly punter friendly – so I’m not going mad with tips.

As with Cheltenham, yesterday was a day for favourites – and that does seem to be the case most of the time, nowadays.
‘The value bettor’ is in danger of being usurped by the ‘bleedin obvious bettor’ ! – how times change...

Here are my thoughts on the day:


1:40: My initial feeling when I saw this race, was to steer well clear !
There are 3 official eye catchers running in it; an ex-tip – and quite a few horses with serious potential.
However, I’ve found that it doesn’t always pay to run away from these races, as the one thing I do have, is a good feel for most of the runners.
The tricky bit is dismissing horses you have an allegiance to – but this isn’t a game for the sentimental…
In terms of the eye-catchers, then Theinval, Qewy and Mad Jack Mytton all went into the notebook following good runs at Cheltenham.
However, all 3 would prefer quicker ground than they are going to get today – and as a consequence, I’m prepared to pass on them all.
Starchitect is the ex tip that is running. I tipped him last time at Cheltenham, when he finished a creditable fifth in the County hurdle.
He may improve for todays step up in trip – but he’s not one for me…
I think that Virgilio, Blazer and Champagne at Tara, are all more interesting.
However, they have shown their cards, to an extent – and I suspect this race will be won by a horse with a few secrets…
There are 3 novices in the race: Mas Du Fou, Curious Carlos and Tycoon Prince – and I think they are most likely to provide the winner.
I couldn’t put anyone off Mas du Fou – but Warren Greatrex has had a few similar sorts recently disappoint in big races.
Curious Carlos is possibly the value play in the race, at 20/1+ - but I think Tycoon Prince is the most likely winner…
After 3 bumper wins last season, the world looked his oyster – and he has therefore been a little disappointing this campaign.
He did win a minor race on his seasonal debut at Punchestown, but has since been well beaten in 2 graded races.
However, he has undergone a breathing operation since his last run in December, and I suspect we will see a different horse this afternoon…
Unfortunately for the official handicapper, he has to judge the horse on performances on the track – but I wouldn’t be surprised if his rating of 136 vastly underestimates his ability…
He has possibly the best target trainer in the business, in the shape of Gordon Elliot – and if this horse is backed, I’ll be a little disappointed if he doesn’t collect (regardless of the apparent strength of the opposition).
The other one worthy of a quick mention, is Clondaw Kaempfer.
He won this race 2 years ago off a 3lb higher mark. He’s done very little since then – but the aids are put on today (tongue tie and cheek pieces). If they have the desired effect, he is clearly handicapped to go very close.

2:15: The 2 ‘bleedin obvious’ ones in this are Buveur Dair and Limini.
The former finished third in the supreme novice hurdle at the Cheltenham festival – and should appreciate todays softer ground.
Whilst the latter was a very easy winner of the inaugural running of the mares novice hurdle, at the festival.
It’s impossible to compare the 2.
Buveur Dair certainly ran in the stronger race – but Limini won so easily, there is no way to gauge the level of her ability.
The suggestion seems to be that Limini is very good – and as she comes from the stable of Willie Mullins, she is probably the one to beat.
That said, I prefer not to guess too much, when the price is so short…
Instead, I’d rather take a chance on Bleu et Rouge.
He also ran at the Cheltenham festival, but fell around half way in the Albert Bartlett.
To be honest, that 3 mile race looked a strange one for him to be running in.
He’d won his previous race over 18f at Leopardstown, when he comfortably beat Tombstone.
That one came out next time and ran fourth in the Supreme novice at Cheltenham – just one place and 4 lengths, behind Buveur Dair.
On that form line, there should be very little between Bleu et Rouge and Buveur Dair.
Furthermore, Bleu et Rouge has plenty of scope for improvement.
He has only run 4 times over hurdles – and had improved with each outing (until his most recent one).
I would have preferred to see really soft ground today (to maximise the emphasis on stamina) - but provided there is a sound pace, I’m hopeful that Bleu et Rouge will put up a good show.
Agrapart is the other one worth a mention.
He was a good winner of the Betfair hurdle on his most recent outing – and he does like to get on with things.
That is also the case with Marracudja, so hopefully between the 2 of them, they will ensure this is run at a good clip, which will suit Bleu et Rouge.

2:50: I don’t much like the look of this race…
Or more specifically, I don’t much like either of the favourites: Blaklion or Un Temp pour Tout – but I can’t find anything to beat them !
To be fair, I have no real issue with Blaklion. He’s an honest horse – and whilst he was maybe a little fortune to win the RSA chase, the fact is, he did win it.
He might win this as well – but he’s the kind of horse I will always feel is beatable (particularly when the emphasis is not on stamina).
I’m less keen on Un Temp pour Tout – though there can be no denying he was a good winner of a strong handicap at the festival.
I have a feeling he might win this as well – but I won’t be backing him to do so !
There are some horses that I just struggle to take to – and Un Temp pour Tout is one of them…
However, finding alternatives to the main players, is very difficult.
Third favourite, Native River is just painfully slow – and I can’t see how he can win over 3 miles on a speed track like Aintree.
Ballyalton could be of interest – but he wants quick ground and he’s not going to get that.
Conversely Otago Trail wants a bog – and the ground won’t be that bad.
The other 3 just don’t look good enough.
Roi De Francs was well beaten by Blaklion in the RSA and Out Sam was well beaten by Un Temp pour Tout.
By a process of elimination, Henri Parry Morgan therefore becomes the chief danger - but it requires some imagination to see him winning a grade 1 race…
I suspect that Un Temp pout Tout and Blaklion will end up fighting out the finish, with former probably getting the upper hand.
I’ll just be watching it though…

3:25: Provided Vautour jumps round cleanly, he will win this.
It really is as simple as that.
He’s different class to his rivals – and will have no issue with track, trip or ground.
1/4 – with faller insurance - would only be marginally more risky than putting money in the bank !
The main question therefore has to be, what follows him home..?
That’s not quite so clear cut – though Al Ferof is the most likely candidate.
He finished fourth to Vautour at Cheltenham. He was beaten nearly 8 lengths that day  - and if he can finish as close today, that should be good enough to secure the runner-up spot.
God’s Own is an official eye catcher, from his penultimate run at Kempton.
He finished firth in the Champion chase at Cheltenham, last time – and has a chance of going a couple of places better this afternoon.
However, the left hand track is not in his favour – nor would be rain softened ground.
Vibrtao Valtat is the other one worthy of serious consideration for second place – though I suspect he is more likely to finish third or fourth.
Simply, this is not a betting contest – it is an opportunity to watch a top class horse strut his stuff.
Enjoy the spectacle.

4:05: Just the 29 runners, racing over the Aintree fences – where to begin ?
How about with last seasons renewal..?!
That was won in scintillating style, by the late and much missed, Rajdhani Express.
He was an exceptionally well handicapped horse that day – who probably only needed to jump round to win.
It therefore stands to reason, that the horses who followed him home, should have their performances marked up.
Step forward Fairy Rath and Rathlin.
Both are the sort of horses I love backing over the Aintree fences. They are big horses, who jump with conviction – and like to race prominently.
Fairy Rath ran the race of his life to finish second last year – and off exactly the same mark today, I think he is highly likely to run another huge race.
Clearly his season has been geared around this one race – though his win at Sandown on his penultimate outing reminded us, what he is capable of.
That victory was also achieved on soft ground – which eliminates some of the fear I had on that score.
Rathlin was 10 lengths behind Fairy Rath last year – but he races from a 9lb lower mark this year.
He is now under the care of Micky Hammond and after showing little on his first few runs for the stable, came good last time out at Ayr.
That shows him in good form – and he also has the wily Davy Russell in the saddle.
There is a chance that both will be vulnerable to younger legs – but I can’t see them not running well.
As you would expect, most of the main dangers are at the top of the betting.
Village Vic, Killer Crow, As de Mee, Bishops Road and Bennys Mist, are all capable of going very close.
I would also add into that list, Cocktails at Dawn, Ballykan and Minella Reception.
I think those 3 have all got chances better than their odds suggest.
However, I’m happy enough to take the 2 old boys in the race – and hope that at least one of them goes close.

4:40: This is not a race which I have a strong view on – and to be honest, it’s not a race that I would expect many to have a strong view on…
The field consists of a lot of horses who have run to a seemingly similar level of form - but who have plenty of potential scope for improvement.
12 months ago, it was won by a virtually unconsidered 25/1 shot called Thistlecrack – even after the race, I don’t think anyone would have expected what happened this season.
It’s unlikely that there is a horse of Thistlecracks ability in todays field – though I guess you never know !
Baoulet Delaroque and Yala Enki probably bring the best form in to the race – courtesy of good runs in decent handicaps.
I would expect them both to run well – without perhaps being good enough to win.
Willie Mullins is responsible for 4 of the runners – with Bellshill and Balko Des Flos, looking the most interesting.
The former finished second to Barters Hill in the bumper at this meeting 12 months ago – and if he handles the step up in trip, he could be with one to beat.
That said, Balko Des Flos travelled well in the Albert Barlett and it could be significant that Barry Cooper opts to ride him ahead of the other Gigginstown runner, Gangster.
Ballyoptic and Ballydine are 2 others worthy of a mention – but it’s that kind of a race…
Head on the block, I’d opt for Bellshill – but confidence would be limited…

5:15: The first 3 home from the Cheltenham bumper re-oppose in this – and in all likelihood, one of them will come home in front.
When they met at Prestbury Park, Ballyandy got the better of Battelford by a nose, with Bacardys 2 lengths back in third.
Ballyandy has to concede 4 pounds to all of his rivals today – and that could be enough to stop him following up.
Battleford is the one most likely to take advantage, particularly as he was only having his second run under rules at Cheltenham – and has Ruby Walsh in the saddle this afternoon.
However, the betting is wise to all of this – and at 11/4, there is very little margin in his price.
Outside the main 3, Utility and Bolving look the most interesting – but again, the market has picked up on them.
Of the big outsiders, I could see Willoughby Court outrunning odds of 25/1.

Here’s hoping for a great day ahead !


Advice Summary



Aintree 1:40 Tycoon Prince 0.25pt win 8/1
Aintree 2:15 Bleu et Rouge 0.25pt win 16/1
Aintree 4:05 Fairy Rath 0.125 EW 25/1 
Aintree 4:05 Rathlin 0.125 EW 18/1 

Eye Catchers

Aintree 1:40 Theinval
Aintree 1:40 Qewy
Aintree 1:40 Mad Jack Mytton
Aintree 3:25 God’s Own

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