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There was rain forecast to hit Merseyside on Thursday night and it is fair to assume that the ground will be no better than good to soft ahead of a fantastic Ladies’ Day at Aintree this afternoon.
The seven-race cards begins with the Alder Hey Children’s Charity Handicap Hurdle over two-and-a-half miles. I am writing this before racing on Thursday when I was going to keep a close eye on the form of the Tom George runners given the yard have been badly out of sorts of late.
Sumkindofking has had a wind operation since stopping quickly at Doncaster last time and I have always thought there was a big race in him. He went off 8/1 co-fav for this corresponding race 12 months ago from a 4lbs higher mark and he is 20/1 with this year – he is a fascinating runner.
I just favour Wilde Blue Yonder (1.45) who looked to “bounce” at Huntingdon last time and ran well over today’s C&D when fourth in a Grade 1 here albeit four years ago. He is a speculative each way selection at 16/1.
Tip: Wilde Blue Yonder 16/1
The first of the Grade 1 contests is the Novice Hurdle over two miles and Vision Des Flos (2.20) tanked his way through the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle (2m 5f) at Cheltenham last month before fading from two out and I am not surprised to see connections drop the five-year-old back down in trip this afternoon.
The selection is 5/1 and is the each way recommendation although I appreciate the 2/1 favourite Global Citizen will be hard to beat with the form of his 8l Southwell win franked in no uncertain terms by the exploits of the runner up Euxton Lane.
The 3m Novices’ Chase is an absolute belter and Terrefort (3/1 favourite) must go close stepping up to three miles for the first time. Connections obviously need to know if they have a potential Gold Cup horse on their hands and if he does not stay this extended three-mile trip, he will not be winning a Gold Cup.
Tip: Vision Des Flos EW 5/1
The ground has gone against the mare Mia’s Storm which is a shame, as she has long been my long-term selection for the race and preference is for Coo Star Sivola and Ms Parfois (2.50) with marginal preference for the latter.
The mare finished runner up in the 4m NH Chase at Cheltenham but jumped and travelled well and she receives 7lbs from eight of her nine rivals. She was put in her place by Black Corton at Ascot earlier in the season but that contest was on ground much quicker than the official going description. At 11/2 she can reward each way support with Noel Fehily taking over in the saddle.
Lizzie Kelly cannot claim her 3lbs aboard Coo Star Sivola 6/1 but the latter will love the ground and did us a favour in the 3m Handicap Chase on the opening day of the Festival.
Only six to post for the Melling Chase but a fabulous contest and Irish raider Min has no Altior to contend with this time having been beaten by the Henderson ace by 7L in both the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle (2016) and Champion Chase last month.
Tip: Ms Parfois 11/2
Min has only raced once over today’s two-and-a-half mile trip, however, and that was a facile win in a three-runner race. He must go close if his stamina holds up but Balko Des Flos (3.25) ran away with the Ryanair Chase last time and Davy Russell looks sure to make it a decent test. The selection is 2/1 and could be a Gold Cup contender next term.
Tip: Balko Des Flos 2/1
Earlier in the season, Ms Parfois beat Theatre Territory (4.05) at Cheltenham in a hot Mares’ Handicap Chase and I have long thought this would be an ideal race for a horse who remains a maiden over fences but has run some excellent races in defeat.
Sam Waley-Cohen rides in his father Robert’s colours and these famous silks have been carried to success in the corresponding race by both Liberthine (2006) and Rajdhani Express (2015) with dentist-cum-jockey Sam in the plate on both occasions.
The selection is 10/1 and she must have a leading each way chance given she will be carrying just 10st 3lbs including her jockey’s allowance.
Tip: Theatre Territory 10/1
Ok Corral (4.40) and Santini filled the places behind Kilbricken Storm in the Albert Bartlett last month and I see no reason why the latter should reverse form on the same terms today although Santini is 15/8 market leader with the selection 5/2.
Tip: OK Corral 5/2
In the concluding Bumper Danny Kirwan was impressive at Kempton and must go well but Mister Fisher (5.15) also scored at Kempton on his sole Bumper start and is held in some regard at Seven Barrows. At 11/2 he is taken to reward each way support.
Tip: Mister Fisher 11/2