3 IMPORTANT RACE TRIALS FOR AINTREE
1) SANDOWN LISTED NH FLAT RACE (MARES ONLY)
The Mares Only Bumper race at Aintree has gone to a runner from this race in 3 of the last 7 years (2011, 2012 & 2014). Last year both the Aintree Mares Bumper second (20/1) and third (9/2) came here direct from the Sandown race. The three winners had finished 4th - 3rd - 4th at Sandown.
2018 RESULT: 10th March
1ST: QUEENOHEARTS 9/2 2ND: QUEENS CAVE 7/1 3RD: POSH TRISH 4/1
2 horses are declared for the Aintree Mares Hurdle that ran at Sandown: POSH TRISH (3rd) & PRINCESS ROXY (7th)
2) KAUTO STAR NOVICE CHASE (KEMPTON 3M)
It might be a big no-no as a trial for the RSA Chase at Cheltenham but 5 of the last 6 winners of the Aintree Mildmay Chase had run in the Feltham/Kauto Star Chase run at Kempton on Boxing Day. They had finished 2nd-1st-Fell-3rd-Fell
2018 RESULT: 26th December
1ST: BLACK CORTON 4/1 2ND: ELEGANT ESCAPE 11/2 3RD: WEST APPROACH 11/1
The Kauto Star 1st BLACK CORTON, 2nd ELEGANT ESCAPE, 4th BALLYOPTIC & the faller MIAS STORM all have entries in the Mildmay
3) SANDOWN NOVICE HANDICAP HURDLE (2M4F)
Since 2007 there have been 6 runners from this race to go directly to the 3 mile handicap on the Saturday of the Aintree meeting and 4 of them have won.
2018 RESULT: 10th March
1ST: SAMS GUNNER 12/1 2ND: DENTLEY DE MEE 16/1 3RD: FIRST ASSIGNMENT 10/1 4TH: CANELO 10/1
7th home GAME ON is currently declared for the race
2 AINTREE WINNERS FROM LAST YEAR
1) FINIANS OSCAR (1.45 Thursday & 2.50 Friday)
He arrived at Aintree last year unbeaten in three hurdles runs but having bypassed Cheltenham the Mersey Novice Hurdle was his first real challenge. He left Aintree with his 100% record intact and looked a star in the making. Sent Novice chasing at the start of the Season he was two for two by the time he was sent to Sandown for the Grade 1 Henry VIII Novice Chase and, despite dropping back down in trip to 2 miles, such was the confidence behind him he was sent off 13/8 favourite in a 5 runner field. Outpaced and jumping poorly he came home a detached 3rd and that was the start of a rapid decline in his career. Beaten again next time out in a 3 horse race his trainer then decided to try hurdles again but after pulling up in the World Hurdle Trial that plan was also ditched. Back over fences for the JLT at the Cheltenham Festival he ran as well as could be expected given his preparation for the race when 5th of the 9 some 15 lengths behind the winner. Back at Aintree and with that JLT run indicating that he still has time to make it as a top class chaser I think we'll see a much improved performance from him this week.
2) LALOR (2.20 Friday)
I haven't given up entirely on seeing Lalor get back into the winners enclosure and I'm hoping the return to Aintree will spark him back to life. He took the Bumper on this card last year in the manner of a good horse, and given the horses he had behind him that day, a novice hurdle win looked a formality this Season. Things haven't really gone to plan though and after suffering defeat in three slowly run novice hurdles he jumped terribly when chasing a fierce pace in the early stages of the Betfair Hurdle in soft ground. Either that or carrying my money that day was too much for him. Connections decided to skip Cheltenham and come here in an attempt to restore his reputation. He should be an each way price and I'll be backing him more in hope (desperation?) than anticipation.
2 CHELTENHAM HORSES FOR AINTREE
1) KINGS SOCKS
A winner over fences as a 4yo(!) in his native France he has though spent most of his career over hurdles. On his last French start he was just over 2 lengths behind Footpad in a Grade 1 Hurdle at Auteuil. Switched to the David Pipe stable in September 2016 we had to wait 18 months for him to make his UK debut when running a 'quiet' race to finish 3rd of 4 behind Modus having never been put in the race but being beaten only 8 lengths. It had all the hallmarks of a Pipe plot as his next start saw him well supported for the Plate Handicap at the Cheltenham Festival where he travelled well throughout the first 2/3rds of the race. He made his move 3 out but didn't quite get home and was beaten on the run in to finish a near 9 length 5th. The stable obviously think a lot of him as he holds an entry in Friday's Grade 1 Melling Chase but as the handicapper has kept him on the same mark as he ran off at Cheltenham I'd imagine he'll be heading for the handicap chase on the Thursday where compensation awaits.
Declared 4.40 Thursday & 3.25 Friday
2) O O SEVEN
Rounded off a fairly decent novice chasing season last year when finishing 4th over the National Fences in the Topham on just his 4th start over fences. That run came off a mark of 152 which is pretty much the same mark he has raced from on all of his 4 starts this Season. His form figures from those 4 runs don't look particularly impressive but there are definite excuses to be made as he doesn't really like heavy ground and he doesn't really stay 3 miles. So his run at the Cheltenham Festival on the opening day of the meeting when running in a 3 mile handicap on heavy ground can be readily overlooked. It did warrant a 2lb drop in the handicap though, so the run wasn't totally in vain, and from a revised perch of 150 I predict he'll make a bold bid once more for the Topham Trophy. It's a race his trainer, Nicky Henderson, has won 3 times in the last 5 years.
Declared 4.05 Friday
MY BEST TRENDS-FIT HORSE FOR THE NATIONAL
1) VIEUX LION ROUGE 33/1 (1/4 odds 5 places or 1/5 odds 6 places)
Basically we need a good jumper with a touch of class, a fair bit of chasing experience and form at around 3 miles or further. Weight is playing less and less of a role in deciding the Grand National these days with 5 of the last 9 winners shouldering 11-00 plus. 9 - 11yo's have dominated the last 15 years as have Irish Bred runners although French Breds are no longer that easy to pass over especially those who have proven their stamina. The one I keep coming back to is a French Bred 9yo who has run four very good races over these unique fences including finishing 6th in last year's Grand National and 7th the year before. He has also won and finished 7th in the last two runnings of the Becher Chase which is run in December over the National fences. He's been running okay this Season from a tough looking mark and I'd imagine connections are delighted with getting into this race off 147 (2lb lower than last year and just 1lb higher than when he impressively won the Haydock National Trial last Season). He's not really at home in very soft conditions so any firming up of the ground over the next week will be very welcome.
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General Principle - Irish National 40/1 (adv.)
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