An eight race bonanza for us on ITV this weekend, evenly split between Sandown and Aintree.
I’ll be in Liverpool for ITV Racing, so that’s where we’ll start.
We’re straight in to the Becher Chase and this is a great renewal of this race over the Grand National fences. Previous form is such an advantage and Blaklion, Highland Lodge & Vieux Lion Rouge have all won this race before so they go to the top of the short-list. If you throw in that Nigel Twiston-Davies has won this contest six times, then Blaklion makes even more appeal.
Two to keep an eye on with the Grand National in mind next April are Noble Endeavour and Don Poli. Both are on the comeback trail but are dangerous to dismiss. However, Blaklion gets the nod.
Definitly Red is a stand out here and is hard to get away from. It is nice to see former Grand National winner One For Arthur back on the track so good luck to his team on his comeback.
Alan King has the short priced favourite in Giving Glances but I am a little concerned about the ground. It might ride quite testing for these fillies. I am going to take a punt on Chica Buena to spring a surprise for Keith Dalgleish.
She is in top form and will handle the ground.
The Grand Sefton Chase is over the National fences so again we are looking for good form over the fences. Shanahan’s Turn was a good second in the Topham Chase off a similar mark last season. After a really good comeback run at Chepstow he disappointed last time out.
I am willing to give him another chance here. Captain Redbeard & Crievehill look the main dangers.
Lalor really impressed me at Cheltenham and I see no reason to desert him. He really got it together jumping-wise. Even though this is a proper test around this Sandown track, he can enhance his claims for the Arkle Chase next March.
Apple’s Shakira is related to Apple’s Jade and even though she was disappointing last season at the big Festivals – she is better than that. I am giving her a chance here to get back on track.
My favourite horse in training is Altior and I am gutted to not be there to watch him run! I saw him jump 10 fences last Thursday at Nicky Henderson’s and he was absolutely out of this world!
I have never seen a horse jump up that schooling ground like that in 25 years of watching horses jump there.
Even Nicky Henderson had a smile from ear to ear. It is his first run of the season and he will improve for the run, but I still think he will win. Saint Calvados is a good horse. If he gets an uncontested lead in front he will set Altior a tough task. Even though there is only four runners, with Sceau Royal and previous winner Un De Sceaux in the field, it’s all about Altior for me.
The London Handicap Chase over 3m 4f has an interesting contender in Milansbar. He might just love this track but it will be important for Jack Andrews to get this horse up the front end and in a good rhythm The others may struggle to get to him if he can do that.