Wednesday, April 03, 2019

Aintree 2019 - Thursday

Brief notes on the thirteenth anniversary of the inaugural blog post...

Three weeks since Cheltenham - in many ways it seems a lot longer - but to my mind this meeting remains the trickiest in the National Hunt calendar; Dave Orton highlighted some of the potential pitfalls in a piece he penned last year and the Racing Post has published an updated 'handy guide' for this year. Both Altior and Santini stay at home as handler Nicky Henderson feels they may not have fully recovered from their exertions at the Festival.

Six face the starter for the Betway Bowl (2.50). Might Bite won this last year after coming off second best in his epic duel with Native River in the Gold Cup; Might Bite has not shown comparable form this season. Generally horses that ran in the preceding month's Gold Cup have a poor record in this event but four of today's six contenders met last month while the other two, Road To Respect and Balko Des Flos, finished behind Frodon in the Ryanair Chase.

Kemboy unseated his rider at the first at Cheltenham so probably comes into this a fresher horse as a result. He looked good prior to that in the Savills Chase at Leopardstown but I'm not inclined to take that form too literally and the price makes little appeal. This track is likely to suit Clan Des Obeaux and Bristol De Mai but not Elegant Escape. Balko Des Flos is the only runner in the field not to have won over a distance of three miles.

La Bague Au Roi has been a revelation this year and is priced up favourite for the opener (1.45) having swerved Cheltenham after winning the Flogas Novice Chase at the Dublin Racing Festival in February.

That said, the race has definitely lost something with the withdrawal of JLT winner Defi Du Seuil (Mengli Khan third) while both Glen Forsa and Kalashnikov unseated in the Arkle - the latter appeared particularly unfortunate and should appreciate this step up in trip.

Previous course winner Bags Grove is of interest at around 9/1. This one bounced back to form at Kempton last time after trailing in a well-beaten fifth behind La Bague Au Roi at Kempton on Boxing Day.

Handler Harry Fry has since indicated 'trainer error' was in part responsible for that disappointing effort - he hadn't given his charge enough time to recover from a run earlier in the month - and I think he's better than we saw on that particular day.

Racing Post ratings tell us Bags Groove has five pounds to find with the favourite and I'm just put off by the slight suspicion a couple in the field may possess a little more toe...

Buveur D'Air is still an odds-on shot for the Aintree Hurdle (3.25) over two and a half miles despite taking a crashing fall in the Champion Hurdle. The step back in trip will benefit Faugheen and Supasundae who finished third and seventh respectively behind Paisley Park in the Stayers' Hurdle. 

The mares didn't really do themselves justice in the Champion but this track will suit Verdana Blue better and she makes some appeal at an each-way price provided the rain stays away.

For the opening day Verdana Blue is the each-way suggestion (14/1 generally) in the Aintree Hurdle.


Anonymous said...

RTG Horse

The old boy Faugheen showed enough in the Stayers Hurdle to suggest he can still be competitive in a race such as this and he’d be my sporting selection to beat the favourite but a no bet race for me.

1st day bets include 1PT EW Wonderful Charm (WC) at 16/1 [5 places 1/5 odds] in the Foxhunters and 0.5PT EW Mcgroarty (M) 33/1 [5 places 1/5 odds] in the Red Rum.

Silly to take the form of WC’ Doncaster win too literally but it showed his well-being, he missed the Festival on account of the ground, top jockey and with 5 places on offer 16/1 currently looks a sound investment! M comes into this a fresh progressive chaser and whilst the forecast rain is a real worry for a horse that looks to need good ground 33/1 is too big.

Good luck.


GeeDee said...

Hi TW,

Saw a piece highlightinng Wondeful Charm's chance before the Festival - noted.

Good luck!

GeeDee said...

The rain arrived and trainer Nicky Henderson withdrew selection Verdana Blue (along with stablemate Brain Power).

In a dramatic race Faugheen (4/1) was pulled up (later found to have irregular heartbeat) and Supasundae (15/2) stayed on dourly after the last to hold Buveur D'Air (5/6f) one and a quarter lengths.