All Eyes On Aintree & Sandown8 min read
A wonderful weekend of racing over both codes with the Hong Kong Cup the flat highlight at Sha Tin on Sunday morning and sensational jumping cards on both sides of the Irish Sea over the next 48 hours.
Saturday’s Grade 1 action over jumps is the 2m Tingle Creek Chase and the betting suggests that Fox Norton is something of a good thing having finished runner up in the Champion Chase back in March before comfortably landing the Shloer Chase on his reappearance.
He is a worthy favourite but he jumped lightly out to the left at Cheltenham last time and I just wonder if the progressive Politilogue (2.55) can’t follow up his impressive win in the Haldon Gold Cup last time. The selection is and his fast fluent jumping should be an asset down the back straight where the fences come thick and fast.
There is plenty of pace in the race, which should suit, young Harry Cobden takes over from the injured Sam Twiston-Davies and I will be disappointed if he doesn’t give the odds on favourite plenty to think about.
The step up to 3m for the first time can help winning point-to-pointer Monbeg Oscar (1.10) break his maiden tag under rules for Evan Williams and leading conditional jockey Mitch Bastyan who takes off a valuable 5lbs.
The other Grade 1 on the card is the Henry VIII Novices’ Chase with four of the five runners unbeaten over the larger obstacles and the odd one out – Sceau Royal – losing nothing in defeat when runner up to North Hill Harvey who reopposes this afternoon.
The most talented horse in the race is Finian’s Oscar but I am just concerned that his jumping might lack the necessary fluency. Brain Power is a better horse going right-handed and is the favourite with BetVictor, but I wasn’t as impressed as others obviously were with his Kempton chase success and marginal preference is for North Hill Harvey (1.45).
The selection has looked potentially top class when winning his two chase starts at Cheltenham so far this season and he might be the value at . There may only be five runners but this is a top-class renewal of a race, which has been won by some of the greats including Altior 12 months ago.
The concluding 3m 4f Handicap Chase is a cracker and my two against the field are Doing Fine – would not want the ground too tacky – and Fletchers Flyer (3.30) who is fitted with cheek pieces for the first time this afternoon and has been dropped 3lbs by the handicapper for a poor run at Wincanton last time. The Harry Fry-trained horse is and gets the each way vote.
North Hill Harvey
The Becher Chase is the highlight from a brilliant card where the step up in trip should see point winner Swift Crusador (12.25) run a big race despite having been raised 4lbs since finishing runner up over the minimum trip here at the last meeting.
In the Becher Blaklion (1.30) has long been my fancy for the race and, although only at BetVictor for a 16-runner handicap over the National fences looks short enough, he looked the most likely National winner when crossing the Melling Road second time round going well back in April.
The selection was only beaten half a length by Bristol De Mai in receipt of 6lbs in the Charlie Hall on his reappearance and that form has been given a major boost by the winners subsequent 57 length Haydock win in Grade 1 company.
Gas Line Boy (3.10) swerves the Becher Chase in favour of the Grand Sefton over a shorter trip and last season’s National fifth can make experience over the unique Aintree fences count for Ian Williams. The selection is 7/2 with BetVictor and gets the vote with the younger pair Mercian Prince and Captain Redbeard suggested as the main dangers.
Gas Line Boy
In the Borders National on Sunday, the presumption is that Doing Fine will miss the race and run at Sandown on Saturday and I am keen on the chances of West Of The Edge (1.40) who made an encouraging reappearance over timber at Sedgefield for Dr Newland who won this corresponding race back in 2013 with Royale Knight.
West Of The Edge
There is a precautionary inspection at Huntingdon planned for 7am on Sunday but if racing gets the green light, I’m looking forward to the chase debut of Nicky Henderson’s Reigning Supreme (1.25) who looked for all the world over timber that he would be well served when switched to fences.
The highlight is the Peterborough Chase and Top Notch (2.30) will be a warm order to follow up his recent Ascot success but I hope to see the real Kylemore Lough (2.30) who receives 6lbs from the favourite. The selection didn’t seem to take to the hurly burly of the BetVictor Gold Cup last time but was very well backed having his first start for the Harry Fry yard and this seven-runner race will be more to his liking. The selection is 10/1 at the time of writing and that looks too big despite moving back from handicap into graded company.