The Manifesto Novice Chase has lost a little of its spark with Defi Du Seuil not going, however we do have La Bague Au Roi.
She deliberately missed Cheltenham to wait for this and she will take some beating. She loves a flat track and they don’t come much flatter than this place. 2m 4f is not a problem for her.
This is the clash we all wanted, with the winner of the handicap for 4-year-olds at the Cheltenham Festival meeting the Triumph Hurdle winner. I was all over Band of Outlaws for the Fred Winter and he duly obliged. You have to ask yourself would Pentland Hills have won the handicap off 139 like Band of Outlaws did? I think yes – and comfortably.
It then comes down to a toss-up between the two and Pentland Hills backed up quickly when on the flat – it was only 3 weeks before when he won at Plumpton. A decent gap between races suits so Pentland gets the nod. We went for Fakir D’Oudairies at Cheltenham and I really think he needs soft ground and a truly run race to be at his best. Stamina
Is his forte.
The Bowl is a match up between beaten horses at the festival, and the one who travelled the least with a jockey on his back gets my vote!
I was very impressed with Kemboy when he won at Leopardstown, and the fact he didn’t have a hard race at Cheltenham increases the confidence too. It will be interesting to see the tactics as Ruby can dictate here and this horse is dangerous as he showed when allowed to do that.
The Aintree Hurdle is redemption time for Buveur D’air. He fell when he took one chance too many at Cheltenham, but should have learned from that and it pays to remember that one of the greatest hurdlers I have seen, the mighty Istabraq, fell during his career!
He won this two years ago and I expect him to do so again. Ch’tibello will be ridden to get some prize money and is a good value each-way at about 18/1.
The Fox Hunters is a great spectacle over the Grand National fences and it can pay to have previous experience of the fences.
The two I like are Ucello Conti and Balnaslow. Ucello has got rid of his rider a couple of times around here but has finished 4th in the Becher Chase. This is his trip and can be ridden forward.
Balmaslow has won and been 2nd in this race and even though his form figures are shocking, he comes to life around here.
Again we have two I really like.
I smell a plot from the Skeltons with Azzuri – just remember what they pulled off with Ch’tibello at the festival. This lad’s handicap mark has been on the slide this season. He has been well beaten this season but he won last year in Ireland off a mark only a 1lb lower.
The other one is top weight Diego Du Charmil and if I am pushed to choose one it is him. He won a grade one at this meeting last year and may just bounce back to form in this as he missed Cheltenham.
There’s a bumper for mares to finish and I like Alan King’s mare, The Glancing Queen, who ran a cracker at the Cheltenham Festival.