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Fusil Raffles ran well when runner-up to stablemate Chantry House in the Marsh Novices’ Chase at the Cheltenham Festival, while The Shunter was an impressive winner of the Paddy Power Plate Handicap Chase on the same afternoon. The one to beat in the opening Manifesto Novices’ Chase, however, is a horse who missed Cheltenham and arrives here fresh.
HITMAN created a huge impression on his first start for Paul Nicholls, bolting up by 30 lengths in a beginners’ chase at Ffos Las. Such was the style of success he was fast-tracked to Grade 1 company, and he acquitted himself well when runner-up to Allmankind in the Henry VIII Novices’ Chase at Sandown. He returned to that course to contest the Scilly Isles Novices’ Chase but fell too far out to be confident of where he would have finished, for all he was travelling well. His only subsequent outing was a confidence-boosting spin against two inferior rivals at Newbury and he will be arriving at Aintree in peak condition, which tilts things in his favour against Fusil Raffles, who had a hard race at Cheltenham, and The Shunter, who has had a busy time of late.
WAITING PATIENTLY has been lightly raced in recent years but his encouraging effort when runner-up on his reappearance in the King George VI Chase suggests that he’s still capable of top-class form. As well as showing that he retains all his ability, his fast-finishing effort proved that he stays three miles well.
Waiting Patiently wasn’t in the same sort of form on his only subsequent start when third in the Clarence House Chase, but that underwhelming display is easy to excuse. For starters, he was dropping nearly a mile in distance, but, perhaps more significantly, the outing came only four weeks after his big effort at Kempton. Waiting Patiently’s profile suggests that he’s going to be seen to best effect when given plenty of time between his races, so the 75-day break since Ascot is in his favour.
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It was disappointing for connections of POLITOLOGUE that he was unable to defend his Champion Chase crown after he was found with blood in a nostril shortly before the race. One straw to clutch at, however, is that not running at Cheltenham has probably increased his chances of regaining the Melling Chase crown he won in 2018. That gallant defeat of Min is right up there with the best of Politologue’s form, so the return to two and a half miles is no concern, for all he has spent the last couple of seasons running over shorter.
Politologue is only 3lb clear of Fakir d’Oudairies on Timeform ratings and the Ryanair Chase runner-up is clearly a big threat, but he had a hard race behind Allaho at Cheltenham. Fakir d’Oudairies has been well backed for this since being withdrawn from an alternative engagement at Fairyhouse and, given there’s little between them in the market, Politologue looks the better value.
THYME HILL is arriving at Aintree a fresh horse by accident rather than design after meeting with a minor setback that ruled him out of Cheltenham. It is clearly not an ideal preparation, though trainer Philip Hobbs said he has had plenty of time to get him ready for Aintree, and he will be meeting rivals with something to prove after enduring a tough race in the Stayers’ Hurdle three weeks ago.
Flooring Porter may have made all the running at Cheltenham, but he didn’t steal the race: he went a good gallop and kept on going. As a consequence, placed pair Sire du Berlais and Paisley Park had hard races and it will be a good effort if they can reproduce their best here.
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