Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Aintree selections - Thursday

The highlight of the first day of Aintree's Grand National meeting is Thursday's Totesport Bowl which is due off at 3.10. All eyes will be on Denman who has been the subject of glowing reports following his fantastic second in the Cheltenham Gold Cup three weeks ago. If there's a slight worry here it may be that the combination of this tight track and quickish ground won't suit ideally but, writing in tomorrow's Racing Post, trainer Paul Nicholls believes Denman will be fine. I don't intend to get involved, particularly as the horse looks likely to start odds-on, but I will be watching closely for confirmation of the improvement the trainer has talked about. It's good to see Denman's connections staying loyal to Sam Thomas - expect plenty of comment from joint owner Harry Findlay if the horse obliges. Stable jockey Ruby Walsh rides Star De Mohaison.

The novice hurdle at 2.35 looks hot with the Triumph Hurdle second and fourth, Walkon and Starluck, taking each other on again and being joined by Hebridean who looks a big threat coming to this fresh. Starluck has been a favourite of this blog over the winter so I'm not going to desert him now. I fancied him for the Triumph but he didn't come up the hill; this sharp flat track should play to his strengths. The worry is that he won't have had time to fully recover from his exertions at Cheltenham, so Hebridean, who missed the Festival, is feared. It promises to be a fascinating race.

In the opener I'm tempted to oppose Big Buck's with Henry Daly's Mighty Man. Mighty Man has won this race twice in the past and ran well in the World Hurdle after a long lay-off. Big Buck's likes to come off the pace and can be a tricky ride - whereas the front-runners came back to him up the Cheltenham hill, here it won't be so easy to claw back the ground. It's still a big ask of Mighty Man, who could well 'bounce' on his second run after recovering from injury, but at 5/1 he looks worth a wager - some would say an each-way bet to nothing.

In the 4.20 the booking of McCoy for the 2007 winner of this race, Bambi De L'Orme, catches the eye; Ian Williams' stable is in good form at present. The 4.55 over two and a half miles features some beaten Arkle contestants, Chapoturgeon taking a step up in class after winning the Jewson as he liked, and in Ouzbeck and Deep Purple, two that missed Cheltenham altogether. One to watch and note for future reference.

1 comment:

GeeDee said...

An air of sadness fell over Aintree after it emerged Jonjo O'Neill's Exotic Dancer collapsed and died from a heart attack after finishing second behind Madison Du Berlais (12/1) in the Totesport Bowl. Jonjo described the horse as the best he'd trained. Denman (even money favourite) didn't travel particularly fluently but was in the right position when taking a crashing fall at the second last.
Nothing could get near Walkon (2/1f) in the novice hurdle. He beat Ski Sunday thirteen lengths and Starluck (5/2) the same distance again. This was a seriously impressive performance from a horse that looked to have had a hard race at the Festival. Hebridean (5/2) finished fourth.
A brave run from Mighty Man (9/2) but he was beaten three and a quarter lengths by a better horse in Big Buck's. Richard Johnson rode a fine race, kicking on four out but Big Buck's wasn't going to be denied - he jumped the last flight better than his rival and was never in any danger of being beaten.
Bambi de L'Orme (7/1cf) faded out of contention two from home to finish ninth while Tartak (11/2), fifth in the Arkle, won the two mile four novices' chase in style.