We start ITV coverage at Aintree with a wide open Grade 3 handicap chase over 3m2f. I have to stick with course regular WALK IN THE MILL, who loves this place and the big fences. He was not disgraced on his comeback at Ascot in October and this will have been the target for James Best and trainer Robert Walford. He is, of course, the defending Becher champion and was fourth in the 2019 Grand National.
Coverage at Sandown begins with this Grade 1 novices’ chase over nearly 2m. Easy to pick ELDORADO ALLEN here even though his odds are reasonable. He loves this track and was a decent winner at Newton Abbot over fences before probably being lucky at Cheltenham when Gumball fell. Robbie Power rides for Colin Tizzard and the strong gallop will suit his style of sitting and pouncing.
Now a Listed juvenile hurdle over 2m1f. Not much to go on here! MEGAN stayed on well to win at Leicester first time and the German import might be tasty. She goes for Stuart Edmunds and Sam Twiston-Davies and any rain will not be a problem. There are no penalties for winning so has a decent chance with the experience in hand.
Another huge race here with the Grade 1 Tingle Creek over nearly 2m. I expect Altior to win if he is anywhere near his best. That said, I’ll tip ROUGE VIF to bang out and make all the running. Yes, of course Altior is the best horse in here and he’ll probably score. But he’s back after a break and Rouge Vif was super impressive at Cheltenham last time. If there is a young pretender he might be it and I just hope Gavin Sheehan is aggressive from the front on the Harry Whittington runner.
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A Grade 2 chase over 3m1f. I’ve already tipped up SANTINI to win the Gold Cup but this won’t be easy first time out against Frodon, who was so good at Cheltenham last time. Native River is still no back number either. This is a cracker. That said, although Santini is hard to get fit and I expect him to have too much class for the others and give Jeremiah McGrath a big win for Nicky Henderson.
Now we have a handicap chase over 3m5f. CLASSIC BEN is on a reasonable handicap mark and loves this track. He returned for Stuart Edmunds with a decent second at Exeter and off the same rating of 130 should give Ciaran Gethings a great spin getting over a stone from class act Cloudy Glen. He will take all the beating in a race that was famously voided in 2019.
The last ITV race at Aintree a handicap chase over 2m5f. Nigh on impossible! Quick slick jumping is always key in this, and the one I like is SAMETEGAL for Bryony Frost and Paul Nicholls. The slight drop in trip will suit, despite a good run at Sandown last time over further. He’s run well at this track before. Definite each-way claims.
And finally at Sandown a Listed handicap hurdle over 2m. Some in-form horses here. Solo has to bounce back, but MISTER COFFEY should be the one to beat after his fine success at the track last time. Nicky Henderson trains with Nico de Boinville on top. The horse cost £340,000 so would want to be able to run a bit!
So best of luck and pray for Yeeehaaas. You hear me Paddy?
*All prices are bang up to date with our snazzy widget, while in-copy odds are accurate at time of publication but subject to change
Matt Chapman’s bet summary – Saturday, December 5
1.30pm, Aintree – Walk In The Mill
1.50pm, Sandown – Eldorado Allen
2.05pm, Aintree – Megan
2.25pm, Sandown – Rouge Vif
2.40pm, Aintree – Santini
3.00pm, Sandown – Classic Ben
3.15pm, Aintree – Sametegal
3.35pm, Sandown – Mister Coffey
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