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I was really impressed with MALAKAHNA at Fakenham as it was her first run in this country and it was a very taking win. She travelled and jumped well beating Aliomaana, who re-opposes here, by 8 lengths in that contest. White Pepper should be the favourite on her facile Galway win, but her price may reflect that fact and I am happy to take a chance on the Ian Williams-trained filly improving.
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THIRD TIME LUCKI was so good at Cheltenham on his last two outings and he is very hard to get away from at a track that puts a premium on good jumping and the ability to travel. Do Your Job is a fascinating contender, Michael Scudamore’s entrant finished in front of the favourite at Aintree in a Grade 1 back in April in a race that was won by Belfast Banter. He has a bit to find on the book on ratings, but he is not the worst shout to be placed in this contest at a big price.
I realise we just don’t know how the Betfair Chase would have turned out had IMPERIAL AURA not fallen, but his trainer David Bass is adamant he would have played a part In The finish. I feel he may have been right and for that reason I am punting on him here.
Protektorat is the obvious one, but the value isn’t there for Dan Skelton’d charge. Simply The Betts should strip fitter for his run at Cheltenham last month, while it’s great to see Native River and Tiger Roll here too. I just worry that on this ground, the speedier types will get the better run round the track.
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I have been guilty of late of underestimating some of the Irish horses who have not had a run and it has cost me. Chacun Pour Soi is a fair way ahead on ratings and he always looks like he is better with a run under his belt, but he just has a bit up his sleeve on a few of these on ratings and that could swing it. The negatives are plain to see though, Patrick Mullins has his first ride around here and his first ride on the horse. Add in his need for a run and he should be a short price too!
NUBE NEGRA is fit after a run at Cheltenham last month, is stronger this year and the Dan Skelton team are flying. That makes him is the obvious one to take on Chacun Pour Soi with. Greaneteen took the scalp of Altior at this track in the Celebration Chase earlier this year and is a horse who ran much better than end result at Exeter last time out. Captain Guinness should also be fit for this one too.
This is a fantastic opportunity for SNOW LEOPARDESS to follow up her comfortable success at Bangor. She will handle the ground, ticks a lot of the boxes required and she would be one I would be looking forward to riding round here.
Chris’s Dream brings a bit of class to this field and can’t be ruled out. Mighty Thunder is another who merits respect, this year’s Scottish Grand National winner had a good comeback at Wetherby in the Charlie Hall Chase and could run well again here. Tout Est Permis is another who can challenge, but Lucinda Russell’s charge was disappointing in the Grand National.
This could turn into a slog and Larry loved it at Ascot when he went by a few late on in the contest back in October. He also had a decent outing in the big chase here in April. CHRISTMAS IN APRIL ran well behind Hold That Taught, a very highly thought of Venetia Williams horse, at Carlisle last time out. He has won the Sussex National Handicap Chase and the Colin Tizzard yard is still flying, that’s why he gets the nod here.
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Olly Murphy’s TAMAR BRIDGE is highly thought of and bolted up from Storm Of Light – a subsequent winner at Uttoxeter – at Wetherby at the end of October. He could still be very well handicapped in this and he is on the up. Martinhal is another who is hard to get a gauge on. He won twice at Exeter before disappointing in the Martin Pipe Handicap Hurdle at Cheltenham. He is still very interesting though.
Harry Fry is having a much better time of things this season and METIER, who won the Grade 1 Tolwroth Novices’ Hurdle at this track in January, brings a bit of class here. I reckon he will take a bit of beating in this contest. Miss Heritage is the biggest danger on the back of a good pipe-opener around Ascot last time out.
13:30 Aintree – Malakahna
13:50 Sandown – Third Time Lucki
14:05 Aintree – Imperial Aura
14:25 Sandown – Nube Negra
14:40 Aintree – Snow Leopardess
15:00 Sandown – Christmas in April
15:15 Aintree – Tamar Bridge
15:35 Sandown – Metier
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