Now before you read this, please sit down in a comfortable chair and breathe in deeply. And now we are ready………….so read on.
I HAVE BACKED FRODON, each-way mind, for the Cheltenham Gold Cup! Yep, that’s right, read again, inhale and then laugh. Quite frankly I don’t really care what you think, but following his win in the Cotswold Chase, where he was being closed down by a thorough stayer, followed by wholehearted success in the Ryanair Chase, I thought this was the logical path for this still seven-year-old to go this season.
It is worth remembering that Paul Nicholls was seriously considering the Blue Riband event before eventually changing his mind, but this will surely be the year when Frodon is at the height of his powers to take on the class of 2019/20 over three and a quarter miles. Paddy is currently offering 33/1, hello!
But you may want to wait until after Sunday’s Monet’s Garden Old Roan Chase has been run because I fancy that second season chaser KALASHNIKOV will have his measure.
Not only does Frodon have to carry a Grade One penalty, but he is up against a young horse yet to reach his ceiling and over two and a half miles, and a sharp one at that, I think the Ryanair champion may well struggle to give the selection 14lbs. Add to the equation the recent heavy rain in the area and everything is set up in favour of Amy Murphy’s six-year-old.
I am a huge fan of trainer Harry Fry, a top-class handler and an even nicer guy to boot and his GREEN DOLPHIN is one to keep an eye on this season.
He makes his timber topping debut here following three bumper runs last season. There are some notable rivals set to take him on form the Skelton, Nicholls and Henderson yards, but I think that this son of Oscar could be up to the task.
Of course, chasing will be his end game in a season or two, but this two and a half miles looks a lovely starting point for him here.
Aintree’s Mildmay course is unusual in that it is essentially a flat, sharp track, but in practice, it becomes a stayers course because horses and jockeys tend to go that one stride too quickly and race from some way out, Chester would be the flat equivalent.
That will make the extended three-mile handicap hurdle at 1.15 a real test and will suit UPTOWN HARRY to the max as he races over three miles under rules for the very first time.
This former point to pointer has been crying out for a test of stamina of this kind and may well be the value call here against the likes of the hat-trick seeking Mr Muldoon and Smackwater Jack.
The Desert Orchid Silver Cup is up for grabs in the Wincanton 2.45pm and CAPTAIN CATTISTOCK can continue his way up the chasing ladder by landing this three and a quarter mile event for Paul Nicholls.
The Ditcheat handler should also double up with SOLDIER OF LOVE in the novices handicap chase at 1.35. This son of Yeats showed what he was really made of as a staying novice hurdler when stepped up to three miles for his final start last season and absolutely hacked up and I fancy that he will make an even better chaser.
Gordon Elliot’s BATTLEOFDOYEN is an exciting addition to the chasing ranks and can kick off on the right foot in the Galway 1.40, while NAMBOUR should make it a double on the day for the Co Meath handler in the handicap chase at 2.15.
Paul Jacobs’ Sunday Selections:
Aintree 3.00pm – Kalashnikov @ Evens
Aintree 12.40pm: Green Dolphin @ 6/1
Aintree 1.15pm: Uptown Harry @ 12/1
Wincanton 2.45pm: Captain Cattistock @ 5/1
Wincanton 1.35pm: Soldier of Love @ 7/4
Galway 1.40pm: BattleofDoyen @ 8/13
Galway 2.15pm: Nambour @ 8/1
*All prices correct at time of posting