Act quickly at Aintree
Our Man On The Spot previews the opening day of the Crabbie's Grand National meeting at Aintree.
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1400 Injured Jockeys Fund 50th Anniversary 4-Y-O Juvenile Hurdle
Calipto was sent off a marginal favourite for the Triumph Hurdle at Cheltenham but didn't enjoy much luck. After being hampered by a faller, his stirrup leather broke when he had every chance turning for home and Daryl Jacob couldn't ride out a finish. It would be no surprise if the Paul Nicholls gelding reversed that form with Guitar Pete and he should again beat Broughton but may find ACTIVIAL a tougher prospect this time around. Calipto beat Harry Fry's charge at Newbury in December but the latter stepped up on that effort when easily beating Commissioned in a Grade 2 at Kempton and may have the greater scope. Fox Norton, another Grade 2 winner, is also interesting while Hawk High won the Fred Winter at The Festival when Baradari, Handiwork and Violet Dancer were all behind. Clarcam was leading when falling two out, however, and would have place prospects with a clear round.
1430 Betfred Bowl Chase
Cheltenham doesn't seem to suit Silviniaco Conti but he gave his all when fourth in the Gold Cup and finished a long way ahead of Houblon Des Obeaux. He beat Ryanair Chase winner Dynaste fair and square in the King George and won a Grade 2 novice chase at this meeting two years ago. Possibly an unlucky loser in this 12 months ago, he shouldn't be far away again but last year's winner FIRST LIEUTENANT looks as though he's been kept back for another tilt having by-passed Cheltenham. Mouse Morris' charge almost beat Bob's Worth in the Lexus in December and is a genuine Grade 1 chaser. Last year's second Menorah has a bit to prove at present and Gowran scorer Argocat will have to run the race of his life to keep up with the majority of these.
1505 Doom Bar Aintree Hurdle
You could put forward an argument that THE NEW ONE was the moral winner of the Champion Hurdle. He was beaten less than three lengths at the finish having lost more than double that in momentum when hampered by the fatal fall of Our Conor at halfway. Only beaten half-a-length as a novice in this last year, he'll be a short price to go one better today as he beat Rock On Ruby by 10 lengths at Kempton in October without coming off the bridle. The latter has been chasing, as has Grandouet, and both Ptit Zig and Grumeti were well behind the selection at Cheltenham. Diakali did beat Ptit Zig in a Grade 1 at Auteuil last year but, like Irish Saint, was beaten in handicap company on his latest start.
1540 Crabbie's Supporting The Hillsborough Families Fox Hunters' Chase
Tartan Snow was a 100/1 chance when successful in this 12 months ago but it will be an even bigger surprise if lightning strikes twice for the 14-year-old. Mossey Joe is likely to be a very warm favourite as he is unbeaten between the flags and also boasts an impressive record under Rules. He won four of his five starts last year and is running in this instead of Saturday's Grand National. But WARNE must also have a cracking chance having been good value for his defeat of Seabass and last month's Foxhunters' Chase winner Tammy's Hill at Fairyhouse in February. A bold-jumping front-runner, he was only fourth last year but was repeatedly hampered by a loose horse. He clearly wasn't himself when well behind Mossey Joe at Killarney subsequently. Boxer Georg and Supreme Doc are other Irish raiders with claims while Pentiffic may prove best of the home team as there's no guarantee that Richard's Sundance will handle these big fences.
1615 Silver Cross Red Rum Handicap Chase
Oiseau De Nuit never seems to run a bad race and is only a pound higher than when winning this last year. Colin Tizzard's veteran can't be ignored but was struggling when falling in the Grand Annual at Cheltenham in which CLARET CLOAK came out best of the UK-trained runners. Emma Lavelle's charge was having just his fourth start over fences that day so there should be more to come and a 4ln rise in the weights is justified. He should again beat Dare Me. Anquetta, Changing The Guard and Astracad. Kings Grey was fourth last year but is only a pound better off with Oiseau de Nuit while Turn Over Sivola is still seeking a first victory over the larger obstacles but continues to climb the weights. However, he's favourably treated on Doncaster running with the hat-trick-seeking Sound Investment and it would be no surprise to see him in the frame again. Arnaud almost pulled off a shock in a Grade 2 novice event at Doncaster last time but the handicapper has taken no chances with him here.
1650 Pinsent Masons Manifesto Novices' Chase
Western Warhorse had Dodging Bullets five lengths adrift when springing a surprise in the Arkle. He'd won earlier over a longer trip at Doncaster so the step up in distance won't be a problem for David Pipe's exciting novice. OSCAR WHISKY must have a great chance if his jumping doesn't let him down again however. He fell at the first in a race at Cheltenham in which Uxizandre eventually finished a gallant second to Taquin De Seuil but is normally a safe conveyance who had the class to win an Aintree Hurdle here two years ago and his yard has won this twice in the last four years. Fox Appeal is a smart novice but may just come up short in this company.
1725 Dominican Republic Handicap Hurdle
Jetson ran another gallant race in the Pertemps Final at Cheltenham, finishing fifth ahead of On The Bridge, Seefood, Crowning Jewel, Uncle Jimmy and Josies Orders. Jessica Harrington's charge is 5lb higher than when runner-up in this last year but that is cancelled out by Paddy Kennedy's claim. Another Irish raider, Busty Brown, made a promising reappearance at Leopardstown while the step up in trip might suit Sandown third Doctor Harper. Any Given Day and Carole's Destrier arrive in form while Riverside Theatre and Cantlow are potentially well treated on their chase form. Philip Hobbs has four entries and obviously fancies his chances of landing the prize. BIG EASY goes well fresh and is just a pound higher than when winning a competitive handicap at Cheltenham a little under a year ago under Michael Nolan. The latter can still claim 3lb and his mount looks a decent each-way bet in a wide-open finale.