3.30 Aintree tips and runner-by-runner guide to Friday’s Melling Chase

Fak is back to defend his title!

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Fakir D’Oudairies, fresh after skipping a scrap with Allaho at Cheltenham, is back to defend his Melling Chase crown on the second day of the Grand National Festival.

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The seven-year-old faces nine rivals in Friday’s 3.30pm at Aintree including Champion Chase second Funambule Sivola and the reliable Sceau Royal.

You’ll find Timeform’s horse-by-horse analysis and Melling Chase tips from our racing boffins below.

Melling Chase runners

Allmankind

Trainer: Dan Skelton Jockey: Harry Skelton Age: 6 Weight: 11st 7lbs

High-class chaser who enhanced excellent record over fences when tenaciously landing the Old Roan here in October. Rare below par display followed in Huntingdon Grade 2 in December and seemingly not 100% over hurdles in February. Needs to bounce back.

Captain Guinness

Trainer: Henry de Bromhead Jockey: Rachael Blackmore Age: 7 Weight: 11st 7lbs

Very smart chaser who got back to winning ways in 3-runner Grade 3 Newlands Chase at Naas (2m) in February, quickening to lead 2 out. Kept fresh since and likely he’s worth a crack at this longer trip returned to Grade 1 company.

Editeur Du Gite

Trainer: Gary Moore Jockey: Joshua Moore Age: 8 Weight: 11st 7lbs

Improving front-running chaser who arrives having acquitted himself well from career-high mark when fourth in last month’s Grand Annual at Cheltenham. However, this demands further progress on these terms, stepping back up in trip.

Fakir D’oudairies

Trainer: Joseph Patrick O’Brien Jockey: M. P. Walsh Age: 7 Weight: 11st 7lbs

Top-class Irish chaser who had no Allaho in opposition when running out a ready winner of this race 12 months ago. Has looked as good as ever this campaign, landing Gr 1 Ascot Chase in February, and he rates the one to beat again.

Funambule Sivola

Trainer: Venetia Williams Jockey: Charlie Deutsch Age: 7 Weight: 11st 7lbs

Likeable front-runner who enhanced his form when landing 4-runner Game Spirit Chase at Newbury in February, holding Sceau Royal by 2 lengths in receipt of 6 lb. Career-best when second in Champion Chase at Cheltenham subsequently and expected to be thereabouts again.

Hitman

Trainer: Paul Nicholls Jockey: Bryony Frost Age: 6 Weight: 11st 7lbs

Very smart chaser who ran well when third in Grade 1 Manifesto novices’ chase here 12 months ago. Respectable efforts all 3 starts in defeat this time around, albeit only third of 4 behind Funambule Sivola in Game Spirit latest. Others appeal more for win purposes.

Mister Fisher

Trainer: Nicky Henderson Jockey: James Bowen Age: 8 Weight: 11st 7lbs

High-class chaser who regained winning ways in Silviniaco Conti Chase at Kempton (20.5f) in January. Deep ground possibly caught him out in Ascot Chase (21f) in February but jumping does need to hold up if he’s to play a lead role.

Paint The Dream

Trainer: Fergal O’Brien Jockey: Connor Brace Age: 8 Weight: 11st 7lbs

8-y-o who has improved further over fences this season, posting a career-best effort to land Greatwood Gold Cup handicap (19.8f) early on last month. Clearly in rude health but even more needed if he’s to feature at this level.

Saint Calvados

Trainer: Paul Nicholls Jockey: Harry Cobden Age: 9 Weight: 11st 7lbs

Runner-up in the Ryanair 2 years ago. Seen only 4 times since but ran a cracker to finish third in King George on yard debut in December. Found to have bled when pulled up in Ascot Chase latest but he’s not out of things if putting that behind him.

Sceau Royal

Trainer: Alan King Jockey: Daryl Jacob Age: 10 Weight: 11st 7lbs

Very smart hurdler/chaser who arrives on the back of good second to Funambule Sivola in Game Spirit Chase at Newbury in February, conceding 6 lb. Skipped Cheltenham subsequently and this highly admirable 10-y-o should not be dismissed lightly up in trip.

Melling Chase tips

Matt Chapman: SAINT CALVADOS was hopeless at Ascot last time but I’ll giver him one more chance with a few quid on each way for Paul Nicholls and Harry Cobden. My hope returned in decent shape – having been lightly raced recently – when third and not staying in the King Goerge on Boxing Day, That suggested he still has some ability left and he’s big odds here if returning to form.

Mick Fitzgerald: FAKIR D’OUDAIRIES won this race last year and swerved Cheltenham for a repeat bid. He is hard to look past. Hitman could surprise at a big price and run a good race at a track that will suit him.

Timeform: On the back of finishing runner-up in last year’s Ryanair, Irish-raider FAKIR D’OUDAIRIES was utterly dominant when running out an 11-length winner of this race 12 months ago and, having looked as good as ever this time around (won Ascot Chase in February), he’s the one to beat again. Funambule Sivola has proved a real success story for Venetia Williams, runner-up in the Champion Chase latest, and is feared, along with Sceau Royal and Saint Calvados.

Ruby Walsh: Funambule Sivola ran a cracker in the Champion Chase but I’m not sure he stays 2m4f. I’m siding with Fakir D’OUDAIRIES. The rest of them are below his standard.

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