Engaging day of racing ahead. Channel 4 have eight races from Sandown and Aintree plus on the ‘undercard’ we have fixtures from Chepstow and Wetherby. The dominant factor today will be the going. The three English venues report their ground in varying degrees of soft, whilst the Welsh track will be unsurprisingly heavy; given its close proximity to the River Wye and the extreme rainfall this week.
As I explained in yesterday’s blog, extreme weights in testing conditions can be the undoing of even the most well touted horses. The adage that in testing conditions every 1lb over 11.7 seems like 2lb was amplified yesterday by the defeats, for example, of the long odds-on Never Says Never (11.9) along with Proofreader (11.9) and De Faoithesdream (12.3). It is a factor to bear in mind today when getting involved.
Today we look at two feature races, both from Aintree.
1.40 Aintree Becher Handicap Chase (Grade 3)
3m 1f race run over the Grand National course in which Saint Are looks sure to go well.
Had a ‘prep’ in cross-country race at Cheltenham, where he ran out of steam eight from home and then stayed on at the same pace. 5 furlongs shorter and 5 lbs lighter at 11.2 today.
Second in the 2015 National, he has an excellent record at the track. Prior to that he had won convincingly at Catterick, one of his rare visits away from the top grade courses.
Modification to the fences at Aintree ensures these races are not the lottery they once were.
As you would expect, a very open race, but odds of 8/1 or more make some appeal.
3.20 Aintree Grand Sefton Handicap Chase (CLASS 2)
Another contest on the Grand National course, this time over 2m 5f.
Double Ross looks to have returned to near his best, having run an excellent 4th in the Paddy Power at Cheltenham.
Today will be the 9y.o.’s 33rd career race for trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies having run once in Ireland before arriving at the Gloucester yard, where he has won over £200,000 in prize money.
Has creditable course experience having finished fifth in last year’s Topham.
Fairly handicapped with Ryan Hatch claiming 3lb and expected to figure.
The popular gutsy performer is market leader at around 5/1, which is how I see it.