Saturday brings a great mix of the speedsters at Sandown and the stayers over the national fences at Aintree. We start at Aintree where there’s a big field and plenty of familiar names.
Walk In The Mill was a really good winner of this race last year and he is definitely on the shortlist. They have chosen to put on cheek-pieces for the first time after a lacklustre display at Wincanton. The worry is that Robert Walford hasn’t had a winner for 44 days and that just puts me off him.
Mysteree is 11 now but he looked like he had plenty of spark last time at Kelso, winning very nicely when he had one for Arthur and Vintage Clouds behind. I am keen on him and he gets the nod.
A juvenile fillies listed race next on ITV and Midnights Gift won at Fakenham when just getting the better of Break The Rules by a short head. Gavrocheka ran well at Ludlow when second in a slow-run affair. Operatic Export is having its first run after leaving Jim Bolger in the colours of national winner Pineau de Re.
But I thought Break The Rules was a little unlucky at Fakenham and can get compensation here.
Only the four but a repeat of the Gold Cup that saw Native River outstay Might Bite. Both horses have headgear on for the first time with blinks for Native and cheeks for Might Bite.
Nicky Henderson is delighted with Might Bite and is much happier this season with him. You have to say, though, that Native River will be ready for this and with blinkers on will be hard to beat.
Another over the national fences with proven horses like Ultragold in here.
Good Present is a fantastic jumper but the worry is if it goes too soft. Killaro Boy is getting on a little but Henry Oliver’s horses are flying – this lad is a gazelle over the jumps and can make that count here.
The interesting horse is the French raider It’s Jennifer. She has won at the premier French track Auteuil in a handicap but we can’t really equate that form. I just favour Killaro boy.
The King Henry VIII novice chase features Nube Negra, who has really taken to the jumping of fences as fancied – but the team probably don’t want to see more rain. He has jumped them silly in his two chases but its debatable what he has beaten.
Torpillo was very impressive at Warwick and gets 6lb from the older horses – did get beaten when trying to back up over hurdles quickly earlier this season. Summerville Boy was helped by some erratic jumping from a rival at Uttoxeter but has the class having won a grade one over hurdles.
Grand Sancy is the horse who interests me, having made Fusil Raffles pull out all the stops at Wincanton. If he takes to chasing he could well be the most attractive horse. Beakstown has been beaten by smart horses and it’s interesting they roll the dice over shorter. Harry Skelton prefers their other one though.
Torpillo is the safest option but if Grand Sancy takes to this game will be the one.
Protektorat will love the race if they go quick – this is a good prize and could be the answer. Man of Plenty won last year and is a decent each-way shout in here.
If Defi Du Seuil is on the heels of them jumping the second-last or last you would be confident he will win. The worry is that he is too clean a jumper; when he ran here against Lostintranslation he stumbled badly at the railways because of it and with Un De Sceaux, Janika and Ornua in here making it a real test, his jumping will be challenged. As I say, he is just too clean a jumper. He is almost quicker when he gets close to a fence than when he stands off.
Janika will run better than his price as he is a really good jumper that will suit this track. Politologue is a previous winner and when he was beaten by Defi at Cheltenham he had to give him 3lb in a slowly run race.
I am a fan of Defi Du Seuil and am not deserting him now – but this is not a cakewalk.
This is a marathon and Step Back has won a Gold Cup handicap chase at this trip but on good ground. If it is decent ground you can really fancy him.
- Aintree 13:30 – Mysteree
- Aintree 14:05 – Break The Rules
- Aintree 14:40 – Native River
- Aintree 15:15 – Killaro Boy
- Sandown 13:50 – Grand Sancy
- Sandown 14:25 – Protektorat
- Sandown 15:00 – Defi Du Seuil
- Sandown 15:35 – Step Back