After a thrilling opening day of the Aintree meeting, where The New One stole headlines with a battling display to emphasise his Champion Hurdle credentials for next season, we look ahead to Ladies Day on Merseyside. The favourites made the frame in the first six races on Thursday, with a winner, two second’s and three thirds, which means favourite-backers will have plenty of positives to take into day two of Aintree.
2.00pm International Festival For Business 2014 Top Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 2)
This is the route we will be going down in the first; with Josses Hill carrying our cash in what looks a fairly competitive opener.
Nicky Henderson and his team have won this race for the last two years, and they look to have a very good chance of making it three on the bounce, as the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle runner-up looks to have a great chance with the best form in the book already.
He bumped into a potential superstar at Cheltenham in the shape of Vautour, but there is no-one as strong as him in the race tomorrow, and the 6-y-o looks set to go off a very warm favourite.
He finished second behind the Neptune winner Faugheen on his very start, which is extremely solid form in its own right. He is firmly on the upgrade, and he should take all the beating tomorrow, with his nearest market rival Sergeant Reckless, who finished fourth in the Supreme, behind Josses Hill, looking like it will prove too much to reverse the form.
Josses Hill has never been out of the first two, during his career under rules and the consistent sort looks just the type to kick-start the day in the best way possible.
TIP: Josses Hill, 7/4 with bet365, Betfred, Stan James and betvictor
2.30pm Betfred Mobile Mildmay Novices’ Chase (Grade 1)
Two Cheltenham Festival winners line-up in the Mildmay Novices’ Chase, with RSA winner O’Faolains Boy coming up against Baylis & Harding Handicap Chase winner, Hollywell. These pair set the standard after brilliant efforts at Cheltenham, however both have exceedingly tough races and may take a while to recover.
It was a surprise O’Faolains Boy was re-appearing so quickly, as many expected Rebecca Curtis to give her gelding the summer off before embarking on a big chasing campaign next year. The race may come too soon after Cheltenham, but if not he will be right there. A similar story for Hollywell, who ran out a ready winner of such a competitive Handicap Chase, and he already has solid course form at Aintree after finishing second in last year’s Liverpool Hurdle. He looks capable of a very big run.
However the selection is Wonderful Charm who had a rather unsuccessful Cheltenham, when finishing fifth in the JLT, after being hampered four out, losing all momentum.
He will appreciate the flatter track that Aintree offers, and if he can find the ability he shown when landing his first three Novice Chases’ in impressive fashion, he will be a major player. Paul Nicholls has already had a winner at the meeting, which shows his horses are still in their purple patch, and the return to a small field, will allow the 6-y-o to track the leaders closely, which is where he thrives.
Sam Twiston-Davies is in fine form, and takes the ride from the injured Daryl Jacob, so there is no problem in that department. It all points toward a major run, and Wonderful Charm is the selection for the second race.
TIP: Wonderful Charm 4/1 with Stan James and Coral
3.05pm Betfred Melling Chase (Grade 1)
A rather poor turn-out for what has been an incredibly high-class race in the past, looks set to go the way of Tom George’s Module.
He has been running consistently well at the highest level, finishing a fine third in the Champion Chase on his latest start. Before that he had finished a close second in the Haldon Gold Cup, before landing the Game Spirit Chase with a taking performance.
Tom George had a winner on day one of the festival, with Parsnip Pete, so it may pay to side with the trainer in form, as-well as the fact that he arguably does have the strongest form in the book.
Ryanair Chase third Radjhani Express is challenging for favouritism, and looks the likely danger, along with Byrne Group Plate winner Ballynagour, who looks a solid each-way bet if he can continue on his strong upward curve for in-form trainer David Pipe.
However, it may pay to side with proven talent and Module looks a solid bet at the current odds, and he should go very close.
TIP: Module 5/1 with Stan James and Paddy Power
3.40pm Crabbie’s Supporting Everton In The Community Topham Chase (Grade 3 Handicap)
The Topham Chase is one of the most competitive handicaps over the course of the racing season, and the prices reflect this, with the entire field a double-figure price in places.
The bookmakers are split, with second-top weight Double Ross, and bottom weight Standing Ovation battling for favouritism in the race over the National fences, however the value may lie with Ma Filleule.
The 6-y-o grey mare looks potentially unexposed in handicap company, given how she performed when just failing to get the better of Hollywell at Cheltenham. She is improving every time she is stepped up in distance, and tomorrow will be the furthest she has ever been, so it is technically a step into the unknown.
Connections are positive it will be suit their mare, and the added influence of Barry Geraghty in the saddle is a major positive. It is only her fourth chase start in this country, and she could well be on the way to bigger and better things, which leads many to believe she may well be a great each-way bet on Friday.
TIP: Ma Filleule 16/1 with Coral, 14/1 with betvictor and bet365
4.15pm Doom Bar Sefton Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 1)
Seeyouatmidnight looks set to be a popular selection in the Sefton Novices’ Hurdle, but it may be worth taking a chance on Killala Quay.
The 7-y-o finished a staying on fourth in the Neptune Hurdle, where he would have been a lot closer had he not clattered through the third last, and second last hurdles. He is one from one at Aintree, having run away with a Novices’ Hurdle last June, in a very taking fashion and he looks a solid each-way bet at the prices.
He is stepping up in trip to three miles, after shaping up as though the line came too soon for him last time over two miles and five furlongs at Cheltenham. The forecast rain wouldn’t be a major hindrance, although he will not appreciate it if there is a deluge on Merseyside, so keep an eye out for the weather before placing your final bets.
TIP: Killala Quay 7/1 with Stan James, 888sport and William Hill
4.50pm Alder Hey Children’s Charity Handicap Hurdle (Grade 3) (Class 1)
The penultimate race on day one is an extremely competitive hurdle that could well go the way of former Cheltenham Bumper winner, Cheltenian.
Phillip Hobbs’ eight-year-old was backed off the boards at Cheltenham, before he faded rapidly after two out, eventually being pulled-up. He had travelled well from the front, before being headed and he looked as though he just didn’t see his race out after wasting so much energy early on.
He is being stepped up in trip tomorrow, which suggests he has shown something at home that warrants an extra few furlongs being added to his potential trip. He has a high cruising speed, and is the classiest in the race on his day. He is sure to be backed again, so ensure you take a price when making your selection.
TIP: Cheltenian 12/1 with bet365, totesport, betfred and betvictor
5.25pm Concerto Group Mares’ Standard Open NH Flat Race (Listed)
A typically competitive Mares Bumper to end the day, and there are plenty of potential winners with the head of the market extremely tight. Tara Mist looks the safest route to go down, for Henry Daly and Richard Johnson, as she has solid form already in the bank, as-well as looking a likely improver.
She only just failed to hold on in a listed event at Sandown last month, and that performance showed signs of a willing attitude from the 5-y-o who looks to be learning more and more with every visit to the racecourse. That was on soft ground, and the return to a sounder surface at Aintree will bring out the best in the mare. There are plenty of other likely improvers in the race, who could mount a serious challenge, but you are guaranteed a good run for your money with Tara Mist, and this female can hopefully round off Ladies’ Day in the best way possible.
TIP: Tara Mist 7/1 with Paddy Power, 888sport, Ladbrokes and Betfair