Cross can land Silver salvo
Man On The Spot previews Crabbie's Grand National day at Aintree and he fancies At Fishers Cross to shine.
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Sea Lord has the highest official rating and his form figures are impressive but he was no match for The Liquidator at Cheltenham when last seen and the winner has done little for the form since. Lac Fontana won the County Hurdle at Cheltenham and stays this longer trip. He must have every chance of following up here but Dell'Arca and Splash Of Ginge are also tough handicappers, though Volnay De Thaix finished ahead of the latter at Ascot in December and re-opposes on better terms. Wilde Blue Yonder tries a new trip but ran very well behind Vautour in the Supreme Novices', though we prefer KAYF MOSS. He is still improving and his defeat of Meister Eckhart in the National Spirit at Fontwell was franked when the runner-up went close under a big weight here on Thursday.
HINTERLAND was in the process of running a big race in the Champion Chase until unseating his rider four out. He's much improved this season and, back in novice company, can recapture the winning thread. Trifolium wasn't beaten far when third in the Arkle and should be thereabouts again. Ted Veale was beaten when falling in that race and looks held. Leopardstown second Moscow Mannon faces easily his toughest task to date over fences but Balder Succes has won four times this season, including a couple of Grade 2 contests. But he was a long way behind the selection in a Grade 1 at Sandown in December. The front-running Next Sensation and Simply Ned are being asked to step up from handicap company.
Melodic Rendezvous was out of his depth last time in the Champion Hurdle and tries a new trip here. But he did beat last year's Aintree Hurdle winner Zarkandar in the Kingwell Hurdle earlier and that one was only a couple of lengths behind AT FISHERS CROSS when fourth in the World Hurdle. Rebecca Curtis' charge has the best form on offer and can gain a deserved first victory of the season if his jumping holds up - he won a Grade 1 novice event over this course and distance at last year's meeting. Zarkandar's stablemate Salubrious is likely to come up short again while Thousand Stars looks held on the form book. Whisper defied a big weight to win the Coral Cup but may find this step up in class beyond him over 3m.
This trip has proved beyond John's Spirit in the past while Carruthers tends to sulk if he isn't allowed his own way out in front. Your Busy was engaged in yesterday's Topham Chase while Golden Chieftain was soon struggling at Cheltenham last time. Unioniste is undoubtedly the class act but has the weight to match and couldn't land a gamble off today's mark in the Skybet Chase in January, though is unbeaten in two previous starts here. Gullinbursti was pulled up in the Skybet Chase and then beaten at Kelso so may also be worth opposing. VICTOR HEWGO was only beaten a neck by Western Warhorse at Doncaster in January and was then less than a length by subsequent Cheltenham scorer Holywell a month later. As that pair are now rated 157 and 161 respectively, a mark of 139 here for Keith Reveley's novice looks remarkably generous and he's a very sound jumper. Duke Of Lucca hasn't had much luck this season and will be staying on when others have cried enough.
Monbeg Dude is a dour stayer but might have preferred softer ground and his jumping is a concern over these fences. Last year's third Teaforthree must have a decent chance again, however, as he's 2lb lower and has been trained with this race in mind. Tidal Bay has been a terrific servant to connections but it's asking an awful lot of a 13-year-old to win a Grand National under top weight and the Nicholls' team also run the less-exposed Rocky Creek. Long Run may also struggle under a welter burden while Triolo D'Alene is only a seven-year-old and they have a shocking record in this marathon. Hunt Ball and Walkon are doubtful stayers but Lion Na Bearnai is a former Irish National winner and another raider from across the Irish Sea, Quito De La Roque, has been the subject of favourable reports. They may represent better value than A P McCoy's choice Double Seven. Burton Port is a classy sort on a decent mark and could run a big race while Chance Du Roy won the Becher Chase over the National fences in December. Mr Moonshine represents last year's winning trainer and jockey while cross-country specialists Balthazar King and Big Shu should enjoy this test. Mountainous won the Welsh National earlier this season and The Package made a very encouraging comeback at Cheltenham and looks just the type for this. The Rainbow Hunter and Shakalakaboom should also give supporters a run for their money but we're going to take a chance on the lightly-weighted ALVARADO. Paul Moloney rides these fences as well as anyone and deserves a change of luck after several near-misses in the big race. His mount has never fallen and won over 3m4f at Cheltenham in November so has the right credentials and will be a working man's price.
Yorkist has made giant strides this season and was winning for the fourth time in five starts at Newcastle in February. Leviathan arrives in form after defying a big weight at Stratford while Irish raider Somethingwonderful has been knocking on the door and Nesterenko could be handily weighted. SWYNMOR travelled strongly for a long way at Uttoxeter three weeks ago and should be suited by the drop back in distance. He'll be thereabouts if back to his best and is preferred to Katgary. The Fred Winter form has taken a couple of knocks this week but Paul Nicholls' four-year-old looked very unlucky when second to Hawk High at Cheltenham, though has been raised 7lb for that effort. Glen Beg beat Somethingwonderful and Drumlee at Navan last month but might struggle to confirm the form on today's terms. Towcester scorer Scots Gaelic represents last year's winning trainer, as does Kashmir Peak, so the pair can't be ignored.
Modus was fancied for the Champion Bumper at Cheltenham but was forced to race wide throughout and his exertions told in the closing stages. With better luck in-running, he should be a factor here while A P McCoy rode Relic Rock to victory at Wetherby in February and is back on board after Richard Johnson steered the six-year-old to success at Uttoxeter. Aqalim and Uncle Muf are both two from two and the older Ballybolley and Battle Born are also chasing hat-tricks. Barry Geraghty has chosen Polytrack winner Bringithomeminty ahead of Clondaw Banker and Hunters Hoof but this is an ultra-competitive affair. Despite being hampered and running green, PUISQUE TU PARS went readily clear of McCabe Creek over 1m4f at Newbury on his debut. There is more to come and, as his yard won this in 2010, he's taken to outpace his rivals.