Spot the value with Spinner
Man On The Spot previews Saturday's televised racing from Sandown and Aintree.
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The drop back to 2m is a worry here for Taquin Du Seuil, as his best form over hurdles was over further and he took time to warm to his task when beating Oscar Whisky at Cheltenham. BALDER SUCCES may well have won at Cheltenham in October had he not come down two out but he showed no ill-effects at Warwick, when winning easily. Suited by small fields, he can score again with Choc Thornton preferring the five-year-old to Manyriverstocross, who beat Claret Cloak at Exeter but is 5lb worse off today. Grandouet was easily the best of these over hurdles but jumped moderately and appeared to be struggling when unseating his rider at the last in Hinterland's race here last month - he has a bit to prove now.
This is generally a race for experienced chasers and there has only been one winner below the age of eight in the last 10 years - Silver Birch - and he went on to win the Grand National. Those stats might count against Vesper Bell, Storm Survivor, Bennys Mist and Ballybough Gorta. This looks too far for Walkon while Junior and Roberto Goldback could have too much weight. Big Fella Thanks was third in the race last year but only a nose in front of the running-on Swing Bill, who is 8lb better off and finished sixth in the Grand National in April. On His Own was a leading fancy in that race but was beaten when falling on the second circuit while Join Together and Across The Bay finished in mid-division. David Pipe's grey looks to have decent each-way claims but WYCK HILL appeals as the type that will take to these unique obstacles and David Bridgwater's charge, on a potentially lenient mark, gets a tentative vote after a pipe-opener at Ascot. Gullible Gordon and Chance Du Roy have both jumped around here in the past but so has Planet Of Sound and he's probably better handicapped.
Petit Robin defied a big weight to land this for the Henderson team last year but stablemate River Maigue hasn't raced since finishing well beaten in the Supreme Novices' in March. David Pipe saddles top weight Ronaldo Des Mottes, who is also returning from a break, but also has Waterunder in the line-up. He beat lesser opposition at Exeter last month and is clearly in good form. Specialagent Alfie has claims on his latest second at Ascot while Seventh Sky was a consistent sort in the spring and looks better treated than Calculated Risk. URBAIN DE SIVOLA appeals as the type to go well fresh and, now with Paul Nicholls, the five-year-old is by no means overburdened here. We'll give him another chance to recapture the smart form he showed as a novice.
Our Mick appears to have lost his way and has a bit to find with the remainder at the weights but only 7lb separates the others on official ratings. Wayward Prince won this last year and appears primed for a repeat having finished more than four lengths ahead of Unioniste when runner-up to Harry Topper in the Charlie Hall at Wetherby. But he has to give a massive 10lb to THE GIANT BOLSTER, who need only to run to something approaching his best to come out on top. He was always trailing in the Betfair Chase at Haydock on his reappearance but that was a race that featured the best staying chasers in the country and he's unlikely to be run off his feet in the same manner here. Katenko hasn't had much time to recover from a fall in the Hennessy last week while Wishfull Thinking is trying this longer trip for the first time on the eve of his 11th birthday.
Captain Conan is flying the flag for his yard after the withdrawal of Sprinter Sacre. He is a classy performer in his own right and won three times in Grade 1 company as a novice, beating Sire De Grugy over this trip at Cheltenham just over a year ago. But he ended the campaign racing over longer trips and has been entered over 3m this term so may struggle for pace here on his reappearance. Sire De Grugy won easily on his comeback at Chepstow but was then beaten in a Listed handicap at Cheltenham. That was a disappointing effort, though he still finished ahead of Oiseau de Nuit, Tataniano, Mad Moose and His Excellency. SOMERSBY won the Haldon Gold Cup at Exeter last month with the top-class Cue Card back in third. He consistently holds his own at this elevated level and can win a first Grade 1 in almost two years here as Kauto Stone needs further and Viva Colonia may be out of his depth.
It can be an advantage to race up with the pace over shorter trips on the National course but there are a few front-runners in this and they may be tempted to take each other on. Toby Lerone arrives in form after a couple of wins in minor company and he made all at Lingfield last month. Rebel Rebellion also likes to be prominent, as do Dunowen Point and Poole Master though the latter pair have been off the track since the spring. Forgotten Gold's jumping has to be a worry around here though he would probably have finished ahead of Current Event at Fakehnam on his reappearance had he not blundered at the last. Midnight Appeal and Plein Pouvoir were successful at Bangor and Wincanton respectively last month and You Must Know Me has shown promise, though is still awaiting a first victory over fences. GANSEY hasn't won since 2011 but was beaten less than two lengths by Little Josh in this last year off a 4lb higher mark. He could be worth a punt after a pipe-opener on the Mildmay course here in October. Shangani and Frontier Spirit look best of the rest.
Bradley ran well for third in a Grade 3 handicap at Cheltenham three weeks ago, though Scottish National hero Godsmejudge wasn't far behind and is slightly better off at the weights today. Buddy Bolero was just beaten at Carlisle but the winner didn't frank the form last week while Well Refreshed looks to be firmly in the handicapper's grip on the evidence of his run at Cheltenham. ALFIE SPINNER failed to give 6lb to Standing Ovation at Wincanton four weeks ago but that was no disgrace. He can confirm that form with third Court By Surprise and go one better here as the longer trip is well within his range. Soll beat There's No Panic over 3m1f here in March and was then seventh in the Grand National. If he's fully wound-up, Jo Hughes' eight-year-old could also be thereabouts but Ikorodu Road has an alternative engagement at Aintree.