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These fences are tough and I am not convinced that they will suit Fusil Raffles as it’s very important for him to get into a comfy rhythm. Hitman missed Cheltenham and Paul Nicholls hopes he will be rewarded for that decision. Eldorado Allen was ridden to pick up the pieces in the Arkle Chase and is an interesting contender.
I am looking elsewhere and THE SHUNTER won at Cheltenham and has to be a player again as there are question marks about all of these.
This is the first of five races coming live from ITV Racing. Monmiral is unbeaten in four starts over hurdles. He has been really impressive but looks like he needs soft ground and that would be a little bit of a concern.
For that reason, I am going for a proven prospect in ADAGIO. He was a good second in the Triumph Hurdle at Cheltenham, he has some very solid runs to his name and he won’t mind the drying ground at all.
Fiveandtwenty has been a revelation over hurdles and she put up a very good time when winning at Musselburgh in her last three outings. She has plenty to find on the book, but she is very game.
Clan Des Obeaux was second in this to Kemboy a couple of years ago on soft ground and he was disappointingly beaten in the Denman Chase at Newbury by Secret Investor. His trainer Paul Nicholls has reached for cheekpieces now and having missed Cheltenham, he has to be considered as there are a lot of things in his favour.
Native River had a hard race at Cheltenham in the Gold Cup and this ground could be plenty quick for him. Tiger Roll should be running in the Grand National but the owners have had their say and I would love to see him run a big race here. He loved it in the Cross Country at Cheltenham, but it would take a leap of faith to fancy him to win this. It is The Tiger though!
Clondaw Castle has found form, but needs a career best to figure to win. Mister Fisher has always promised something, but has not yet delivered on the biggest stage, so WAITING PATIENTLY gets the nod on his second place finish in the King George Chase behind Frodon.
He looked out of sorts at Ascot over 2m when third to First Flow but will be happier over this trip.
There is not a lot between quite a few these on official ratings, in fact Silver Streak is the highest rated of any of them and he is one of the outsiders! He could be a surprise package along with the horse that beat him narrowly in December at Cheltenham in the International Hurdle, SONG FOR SOMEONE.
I have always thought he was tailor-made for this race. He is not quite fast enough for two miles around Cheltenham, so the Champion Hurdle would never suit him but the 2m 4f trip now should suit. His trainer Tom Symonds has had a good year and this would top it off nicely.
McFabulous is a hard horse to get a handle on as lots needs to go right for him. The two Irish horses (Abacadabras and Jason The Militant) are closely matched on runs at Punchestown, but I am hoping Song for Someone can spring a surprise.
William Biddick trained the winner of the Hunters Chase (Porlock Bay) at Cheltenham and I reckon will ride the winner of this Hunters Chase at Aintree. He is a top class amateur rider and SAMETEGAL has experience round this track and fences. He gets the nod ahead of the Paul Nicholls-trained Cat Tiger.
It was a close call between the two Philip Hobbs-trained horses. Zanza had run really well at Cheltenham in December when falling three out, but disappointed back there at the Festival last month.
DOSTAL PHIL has ran well this season and beat a very well handicapped horse at Newbury. He is also a strong traveller and will love this track, so he gets the vote. Just keep an eye on the market for a move for Moon Over Germany, who is a previous winner of this race and has a decent young rider booked in Jordan Gainford.
EILEENDOVER has made a huge impression this season and this classy filly is now unbeaten in three starts. Willie Mullins sent Grangee to Market Rasen to see how good she was and Pam Sly’s mare beat her by eight lengths. Grangee subsequently won a Grade 2 bumper at Leopardstown and finished sixth in the Champion Bumper at Cheltenham.
Elle Est Belle was best of the English in that Champion Bumper when chasing Sir Gerhard and Kilcruit home in third. She’s the danger, but as a five-year-old has to concede weight now to the four-year-old Eileendover.
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