Aintree Festival 2019 Preview – Saturday
It’s Grand Nation day one of the biggest days in the National Hunt calendar. this years race see Tiger Roll try and land back to back renewals of the Grand National but there is plenty of opposition to Gordon Elliott’s stable star.
There s plenty of top quality action elsewhere on the card and it is a day to be savoured by racing fans and the general public.
Gaskells Handicap Hurdle
After two years at the Elliott yard, Sire Du Berlais delivered on the promise he so often showed. by landing the Pertemps at Cheltenham under a fine ride from Barry Geraghty. I think the hike in th handicap will prove too much for him though.
Coolanly is one of the most experienced horses in the field and has already landed a Grade 2 this season. He ran slightly disappointing behind Champ in the Challow Hurdle over Christmas and then ran a fine race in the Martin Pipe. This race should play to his strengths and he’s my idea of the winner.
David Pipe’s Poker Play was an easy winner at Uttoxeter recently and looks like the type to keep improving. This represents a jump up in class and I think he can take it in his stride.
Others to consider include Mia’s Storm, First Draft and Red Indian.
Mersey Novices’ Hurdle
Angles Breath was well fancied to win the Supreme at Cheltenham but he raced too keenly and didn’t get home. I fear that this may come a bit quick for him but he’s still got a chance.
Olly Murphy has made a great start to his training career and Brewin’upastorm ran a fine race in the Ballymore City Island most recently. This was his best run so far and if he can improve again that he’ll take some beating.
I horse I like in this is Chosen Mate for the in-form Gordon Elliott yard.
He was a good winner of a Grade 2 when last seen in action and he’ll do for me.
One For Rosie is another horse that must enter calculations who never seems to run a bad race.
Selection: Chosen Mate
Maghull Novices’ Chase
Us and Them has finished runner-up on his last three starts behind Le Richebourg and outran his odds in the Arkle mist recently. Joseph O’Brien’s has the best form on show and will take all the beating.
Tom George runs Clondaw Castle here but he’s got ground to make up on US And them from their Arkle clash and I don’t see any reason why the can turn the tables.
Destrier has been laid out for this race and is seeking the hat-trick. He faces a big step up in class but is on an upward curve and can’t be ignored.
Selection: Us and Them
This looks like somewhat of a below par renewal of the Stayers’ Hurdle with questions marks hanging over the majority of the field. The classiest horse in the field is Apple’s Jade who looked in unstoppable form all season over an array of the distances. the only blip of the season came in the Champion Hurdle where she was sent off as the hot 7/4 favourite. I think Cheltenham just doesn’t suit her and a return to a flatter track will see her to better effect and if you can put a line through her Cheltenham run then she’ll prove tough to beat.
One horse who did come back to form in the Stayers at Cheltenham was Sam Spinner who finished a fine second to Paisley Park. The conditions look ideal for Jedd O’Keeffe’s stable star and it will be hard to keep him out of the frame.
In a market that centres around Apple’s Jade, there is value to be had when looking for a horse to sneak into the placings. The outsider I like is Kilbricken Storm, who ran well to point at Cheltenham until folding up the hill. He would have needed that race fitness wise and the addition of first-time blinkers can only be positive. Colin Tizzard’s horses are starting to come into form and he shouldn’t be underestimated.
Selection: Kilbricken Storm
Betway Handicap Chase
There was a lot of word for the Paul Nicholls’ trained Touch Kick for the Kim Muir at Cheltenham. The ground should be ideal of the son of Presenting and a big run looks on the card.
Federici has run pretty well all season without looking like winning but the ground and trip should suit along with him being on a reasonable mark.
Mister Malarky must have a very strong chance having won a Grade 2 and the finished fourth in the RSA on his last two starts. Again the worry is the quick reappearance but he’ the one to beat.
Others to note include the consistent Theatre Territory and Some Buckle.
Selection: Mister Malarky
We have written an in-depth runner by runner guide for the Grand National which can be read here
Pinsent Masons Handicap Hurdle
Scheu Time looked like winning this race last season only to part company with Katie Walsh at the last hurdle. This race will have been the season-long target and with young Jonjo Jo O’Neill on board, he looks sure to run well again.
Jedd O’Keefe runs Lord Yeats in this and he’s been very consistent this season. He’s stepping up in class here and it will be interesting to see how he fares out.
Donald McCain is synonymous with Aintree and could just have the winner of the last race at the festival. Fin And Game is quite lightly raced and comes here as a fresh horse. He needs to find improvement if he is to feature but that’s not out of the question.
Selection: Fin And Game
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