William Hill ambassador Barry Geraghty runs his eye over the card on day two from the Aintree Grand National Festival.
1:45 Mildmay Novices’ Chase
GERRI COLOMBE was a close second at the Cheltenham Festival and I thought that was a great run. Some horses wont bounce back from Cheltenham as well as others but I think Gerri Colombe will be okay – he’s a very laid back horse and very relaxed. I’d imagine he will have found all the travel ok and recovered well for that reason.
Bronn, who was third not far behind The Real Whacker in the Brown Advisory at Cheltenham, has been having a great season. He won in January and ran second in November, both at Fairyhouse, where he had also won a Grade 2 this time last year. His runs have been well spaced out and he might not cope with the quick turnaround from Cheltenham to Aintree quite as well as Gerri Colombe, who I feel will take a lot of beating.
2:20 William Hill Handicap Hurdle
CAMPROND I think, will be hard to beat. His run for third in the Coral Cup at Cheltenham, finishing just a half Lenght behind Langer Dan, was brilliant and a reproduction of that run would be hard to beat in this. He liked the step up in trip last time so this should suit.
Buddy One could be in with a decent each-way chance. In the Martin Pipe the Festival he looked like a winner but just didn’t find enough going up the hill to get his head in front. A great run nonetheless, though, and he should like the ground here too. We could see him in the frame this time.
2:55 Top Novices’ Hurdle
LUCCIA had an interrupted preparation for Cheltenham, but she ran a good race, albeit a little bit disappointing. There is a good bit of improvement expected from her, though. She’s a very good mare with some impressive form since debuting at Warwick last year, and she won her next three starts by a combined 33½ lengths. I’m happy to forgive her that one under par run at Cheltenham and can see her bouncing right back to her best. If she does, she’ll be hard to beat.
Of the opposition, Found A Fifty – the favourite – is a very keen-going horse but was a good second to Corbetts Cross at Naas in February. He’s a very smart horse, but I would be just a little concerned about his temperament. Keen-running horses have a tendency to do too much too soon which wont do him any favours round Aintree, but he might have learnt a bit since his last run.
3:30 Marsh Chase
Fakir D’oudairies is going for a hat-trick, but he was seven lengths behind PIC D’OHRY in the Ascot Chase, when they last met. He has now been fitted with cheekpieces which may help to sharpen him up, but I think he probably wants the ground to be slower than it currently is. An emphasis on stamina is what he needs, possibly a step up in trip too.
Pic D’Ohry has been very impressive this season and has good form on flat tracks. For me, he might just have the edge on the better ground over Fakir D’oudairies.
French Dynamite should also benefit from the better ground. He ran well at Cheltenham for fourth place in the Ryanair and has been consistently good all season. Ridden a bit more patiently, he’ll have a chance, but for me Pic D’Ohry is the one to beat.
4:05 Topham Handicap Chase
I do like FINAL ORDERS, who was winning everything before he ran fourth in the Grand Annual at Cheltenham. He’s clean in his jumping and should give Keith Donoghue a good spin.
Phoenix Way looks to have a solid each-way chance. He finished fourth at Cheltenham’s January meeting and wears cheekpieces for the first time here. In his three starts this season he’s run consistently against similar company and he’ll have come on for those runs. Harry Fry has given him plenty of time between runs, and he’s got his distance and going here.
Gesskille can’t go without a mention at the top of the market. He finished second in both the Grand Sefton and the Becher Chase this year, so we know he likes it round Aintree! He was disappointing at Doncaster in December but I think we put that down as an off day. Aintree gets the best out of him and we’ll likely see that once again here.
4:40 Sefton Novices’ Hurdle
Stay Away Fay put up a brilliant performance to win at Cheltenham, but that was only 28 days ago and 3 miles around Cheltenham for a youngster can take its toll. He’d definitely be the one to beat, but I am just concerned about the turnaround.
ABSOLUTE NOTIONS, on the other hand, was a very good second behind Good Land at the Dublin Racing Festival in February. He comes here fresh with a similar level of form to Stay Away Fay and so, of the two, I’d be going with Absolute Notions.
5:15 Conditional Jockeys’ and Amateur Riders’ Handicap Hurdle
I like DENSWORTH of Ben Pauling’s in this. He was a good winner in Newcastle previously and then won by 29 lengths in Southwell after that, which he has gone up three pounds for. He looks to have been trained for this race, and has had a really good season, as has his jockey, Luca Morgan.