Thinking man's tip in Melling
Man On The Spot previews day two of Aintree and feels that Wishfull Thinking can come out on top in the Melling Chase.
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Barry Geraghty rode Vaniteux in preference to JOSSES HILL in the Supreme Novices' at Cheltenham but is back on board the six-year-old today, who can get back to winning ways. He finished ahead of Sgt Reckless at The Festival and should confirm that form here with Mick Channon's charge, who looks ready for a step up in trip. A line through Supreme Novices' winner Vautour also gives him the beating of King of The Picts. Art Of Payroll has progressive form in handicaps but has already been found out at a higher level, though was well ahead of The Game Changer at Leopardstown in December. Amore Alato was readily brushed aside by Irving in a Grade 2 last time and that one was well behind the selection at Cheltenham.
Having initially struggled over fences, including when only third to Many Clouds at Carlisle in November, Holywell has now won three on the spin. He had a bit in hand when winning a Grade 3 handicap at Cheltenham but may need more here against O'FAOLAINS BOY. Rebecca Curtis' stayer beat Many Clouds in the Reynoldstown at Ascot in February and showed that was no fluke by catching Smad Place in the shadows of the post in the RSA Chase at The Festival. Just A Par was well beaten in that race but Don Cossack was still in touch when falling on the second circuit, bringing down Many Clouds. Gordon Elliott's charge could make it interesting with a clear round but Wonderful Charm weakened quickly on his only previous try over 3m.
This is a disappointing renewal and the betting will indicate that there isn't a stand-out performer this year. Module was third in the Champion Chase having earlier won the Game Spirit at Newbury but is probably just short of top class over this longer trip. Nicky Henderson has won the last two renewals so Rajdhani Express, an improved third in the Ryanair at Cheltenham, has to be respected as there seems no obvious reason why either Boston Bob or Rathlin should reverse that form. Easy Cheltenham winner Ballynagour seems best after a break so how he'll cope with a second tough race in three weeks in anybody's guess but WISHFULL THINKING is as tough as old boots and this is his trip nowadays. He got taken off his feet in the Champion Chase but was making up ground hand over fist up the hill and can reverse that form with Module and go one better than when second in this contest in 2012.
There are a few classy chasers taking up the challenge of the National fences in this Grade 3 handicap this year. Champion Court is a Grade 2 winner while the mare Ma Filleule was second in one of the big handicaps at Cheltenham, though was earlier pulled up on that course in December when Double Ross was successful. Nigel Twiston-Davies' novice ran a cracker to finish third in the Golden Miller at The Festival but does seem to reserve his best for that track and might struggle to confirm form in January with CEDRE BLEU. Only one horse carrying more than 10st12lb has won this in the last 13 years and Paul Nicholls' seven-year-old just qualifies in that weight range. He's a bit of character but similar types has thrived at Aintree down the years and he's well enough treated if Nick Schofield can keep him interested and covered up until the closing stages. Stablemate Rebel Rebellion won the Grand Sefton over course and distance in January, ahead of Your Busy, but Poole Master likes to dominate and may not be able to do so in this. Doeslessthanme, Soll and Big Fella Thanks have each-way claims on past form and Lost Legend could also figure but Standing Ovation is a stayer and may get taken off his feet.
This is a big day for Sandy Thomson as Seeyouatmidnight attempts to give him the biggest win of his career to date. The six-year-old extended his winning run under Rules to three with victory in the Grade 2 Rendlesham Hurdle at Haydock and is a leading contender here having earlier beaten the odds-on Racing Pulse by nine lengths at Musselburgh. Killala Quay was fourth in the Neptune Investment Novices Hurdle at Cheltenham having beaten Beat That at Sandown in December. He could be a threat if staying the longer trip while Tagrita and Toubeera are interesting with their mares' allowance. Capote is unbeaten but upped in class while Port Melon was a bit disappointing when only third at Cheltenham in November and hasn't been seen since. GIANTOFAMAN won on good to soft ground at Thurles in November so should handle today's quicker surface and could be the value bet in this if his jumping holds up. He stayed on strongly to land a Grade 2 in February over 2m4f.
Attaglance is only a pound higher than when winning this two years ago off the back of an excellent run at Cheltenham. He was only beaten half-a-length over fences at The Festival last month and is back in form. Caid Du Berlais had Hazy Tom well behind when a staying-on third at The Festival while Lyvius came out best of a number of these that contested the County Hurdle, though he's yet to suggest he'll be suited by this extra half-mile. Stonebrook steps out of novice company for the first time but McCoy rides and he can't be ignored while the maiden Little Jon ran well for sixth in the Imperial Cup and stays this longer trip. He could reward each-way support but ZABANA made an impressive reappearance at Leopardstown in January and continues on an upward curve. He may well be capable of defying his new mark as he comfortably has the beating of recent Wexford scorer Mister Hotelier.
This Listed contest has a short history but there have already been several shock results and any number of these are capable of stepping up on what they've shown so far. The Govaness beat last year's winner Legacy Gold at Cheltenham in November and got the better of No Pushover at Towcester earlier but has to give weight to all of her rivals. TARA MIST had Avispa behind when runner-up to Gaillimh A Chroi at Sandown and has to go on the short-list as most of her form is working out well. Hannah's Princess and Miss Sassypants are both unbeaten while Amberkatann and Plum Stone have won their only start. Lady Buttons may be the pick of the four-year-olds having easily beaten Millicent Silver at Wetherby, though she was well beaten at Cheltenham in this grade earlier.