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27th May 2024 3:32 am

“A difference of opinion is what makes horse racing and missionaries."

Aintree Grand National Meeting: Day 2

These Donors Are AMAZING Thank You

William S – MEJi – Peter N – Nigel B – Ken C – Mark S – James D – William M – Fiona M – Julian A – Jonathan H – Mrs V.M – Pete BN – Gavin C – Thom S – Sarah C – Mark S – Sam H – James R

It was not the worst of days for us, but I would have thought it was pretty awful for Hendo. Of his four runners, his only winner seemed constantly surprised to see a hurdle, and the other three all finished in the bottom half of their fields. The fact that Sir Gino won despite his lack of fluency at his jumps perhaps tells us how much better he would have been without the impact of this awful malaise. I still think his horses are to be swerved. On the upsides, I was thrilled for Freddie Mitchell, whose Foxhunter’s ride had emptied pretty well two from home, but Freddie still coaxed it across the line for a fifth – and paying – place.

On other fronts, Charlie Longsdon’s brother-in-law, Ben Pauling, lost 19 horses today, 11 of which are going to other trainers and 8 to the sales. Racing can be harsh like that, but there has been some rattling in the social undergrowth along Marmite lines, especially over the Golf Club malarkey, which has been dividing the County. The two parties have been busy saying this is just a reassessment of the owner’s portfolio, but polite Cotswold society is rarely hesitant to have any opinion regarding neighbours. Still, on the bright side, it’s a few months until the Heythrop will be out and about again, so it will all have had a chance to die down!

I am also delighted that the F1 pit lane’s silver fox, Fernando Alonso, has a new two-year contract with Aston Martin.  The team had a cracking 2023 season, with Fernando back on the podium for the first time since 2013 and indeed for six of the first eight races. It’s easy to forget that, but for a garage cock-up over tyres, he could have won the Monaco GP.

Talking of foxes in the hen coop, Friday is Lady’s Day at Aintree, and the usual drunken mayhem is predicted. One year, 2015, Aintree’s then-CEO John Baker issued a sort of D notice to photographers saying they would have their accreditation revoked if they were caught taking any photographs, which ‘enforced negative stereotypes’ with the snappers’ accreditation potentially revoked across all Jockey Club Racecourses.

We want to overwhelm the negativity and push the positivity to the front. Our event is full of character and fun, and that’s generated by the personality of the Liverpool people. We have to absolutely protect that because it’s at the core of what we are, and we have a responsibility to our customers to project the correct image.

I wonder what happened to him?

The headline of the day and the unthinking spokesperson’s helpful support:

Reform fired an election candidate for being ‘inactive’. It turned out he was dead.

Reform UK spokesperson said he was “mortified.”

Talking of dead in the water, here are my thoughts for Friday and Ladies Day

13:45 – Huyton Asphalt Mildmay Novices’ Chs (G1) (C1) (5YO plus) 3m 1f

It’s a pretty strong set of trends and I’m left with a choice of GIOVINCO and CHIANTI CLASSICO. GIOVINCO could outrun his odds, and as she showed yesterday, Lucinda Russell’s horses run well at this meeting. He won the November C&D handicap off 143 on soft ground then, having won on heavy twice before. He also put up a decent performance in the Brown Advisory coming third. IROKO would be the first 6yo since Native River in 2016 if he were to win this – but you might remember he was much talked about as a potential star before Cheltenham, having gone up from 121 to 145 and having won the Martin Pipe and the Sefton before switching to Fences. Shortly after his winning and eye-catching debut last November, it was announced that Greenall/Guerriero trained runner had suffered a foot injury and would miss the remainder of the season. Then news broke in February that he was back at work and being aimed at the Festival. He never made any mark in the Turners Novices’ Chase (2m 4f), but his finish suggested this distance would suit. HEART WOOD bolted up in a typically-hot DRF 2m 5f handicap, over the longest trip he has faced. Notably, he missed Cheltenham to come here, and despite an Irish mark of 148, he has exercised no such options. The biggest fear is that INOTHEWAYURTHINKIN, who won the Kim Muir in the most facile manner and had patently hoodwinked several handicappers, wasn’t trying!

I’m truly bamboozled because I can’t see how to play this that makes sense…

GIOVINCO  5 x ½pt RFC with the field

14:20 – William Hill Hcap Hdl (C1) (4YO plus) 2m 4f

The trends leave us with three: BOOMBAWN – CHAMPAGNE TWIST  – SERIOUS OPERATOR. This last has some decent form (5th in the Lanzarote, 1st in a C2 Hcap Hdl, the 2nd has won G2 hurdle since 7th also won Hcap Hdl since), and 16/1 looks too big. The 5lb extra looks manageable. One rather strange statistic I uncovered over these past few months of research was this: Over the last 18 years, there have been 39 horses aged 4-9 and rated higher than 135 that ran at Aintree in races between 2m and 2m4f, AND that ran at Kempton LTO not more than 45 days ago. Those 39 runners produced 7 Wins and 3 places for an A/E of 1.42,  a profit of 30.5 pts and an ROI of 78%. That exact profile matches BOOMBAWM and KATEIRA. Dan Skelton trains both. The latter is the favourite. I can also say that Paul Nicholls’ horses that miss Cheltenham and who had a top 4 finish or did not complete at a Grade 1 course LTO are 51R – 12W – 7P (A/E 1.65 – ROI 71.55 ) – and that meets the profile of INTHEWATERSIDE. Oliver Greenall & Josh Guerriero’s MAKING HEADWAY has got in on bottom weight with a mark of 128. He has won on heavy and has been carefully placed this season, leading to a decent second to KAMSINAS in a Haydock G2 Novices’ Hurdle at Haydock. He was then 4th in the G1 Formy Novices here in December and then went onto win at Newbury next time out. His handicap debut was made in the Imperial Cup finishing 4th. Stepping up in trip and with first-time CPs, the careful planning goes on. Sadly, I think it might be wasted because I think KAMSINAS is a more progressive type. He also had a decent win at Kempton LTO.

BOOMBAWM 1 pt e/w – KAMSINAS 2 pts e/w – INTHEWATERSIDE 3 pts e/w

14:55 – TrustATrader Top Novices’ Hdl (G1) (C1) (4YO plus) 2m ½f

Three of the Supreme’s first five have turned out for this classy race. Stats-wise, the runner-up from that race has a terrific record when coming here (6 from 7), which makes MYSTICAL POWER the obvious choice. On the other hand, you just wonder whether FIREFOX was robbed by the traffic and some “exuberant” jockeying. He remains the only horse to have beaten Ballyburn, but I wonder if this isn’t going to turn out to be too sharp for him. Surprise flop in the Betfair Hurdle LOOKAWAY is overpriced at 25/1 if he can manage this ground.

FIREFOX 4 pts Win – LOOKAWAY 1 pt e/w (if 8 runners)

15:30 – My Pension Expert Melling Chs (G1) (C1) (5YO plus) 2m 4f

The same stat I found for Paul Nicholls in the earlier race, also applies to last year’s winner PIC D’ORHY who won at Ascot LTO. I can’t be having JONBON and I worry PROTEKTORAT might win if the other two don’t. And what about….


16:05 – Randox Supports Race Against Dementia Topham Hcap Chs (C1) (5YO plus) 2m 5f

Peter Bowen is 21R – 5W – 3P … no brainer = FRANCKY DU BERLAIS. Last year’s third KILLER KANE is back with a 4lb lower mark, which is also too big to ignore. LIFE IN THE PARK ran a massive race in the Plate, and the first-time tongue tie obviously helped.  Remember that this was a top performance in what is effectively an English race at the Festival. He’s lightly raced and can handle this task. BILL BAXTER, last year’s winner is back but hasn’t shown much since, witnessed by his only having an extra 1lb. He is too short a price to be of interest. FRERO BANBOU will handle the ground and has solid form this season.

FRANKY DU BERLAIS 2 pts e/w – KILLER KANE 2 pts e/w

16:40 – Cavani Sartorial Menswear Sefton Novices’ Hdl (G1) (C1) (4YO plus) 3m ½f

The longest hurdle of the meeting, and it is worth noting that 14 (including the last 3) of the last 23 winners bypassed Cheltenham. Had he been trained anywhere but Seven Barrows I would have suggested SHANAGH BOB. He is an out-and-out stayer and is better than a plodder – but he is not a speedster either. Solid… but Nicky? KYNTARA loves the mud and was 1¼l 2nd to Monmiral in the Pertemps final. I’m surprised they haven’t popped him back over fences where he has a much lower mark. Thereby, perhaps, hangs the tale. I do like to see “Chancers” occasionally, and PINOT ROUGE looks like such a beast. In only his second Hurdle race under rules, he stayed on well to win at Donny LTO and wears CPs for the first time. Susan Corbett has never had a runner at Aintree before and does not tend to mess about getting owners’ festival badges. I also like Willie Mullins’ DANCING CITY. He ran third in the Albert Bartlett at Cheltenham and is decent.

DANCING CITY 4 pts win – KYNTARA 2 pts e/w – PINOT ROUGE 1 pt e/w

17:15 – Alder Hey Hcap Hdl (Conditionals & Amateurs) (C2) (4YO plus) 2m ½f

EAGLES REIGN—MAIDENSTREETPRINCE—GO DANTE ZEEBAND—BRUCIO are the ones who unhelpfully make my shortlist. However, I’m backing AFADIL, who caught my eye when he was 5th in the County Hurdle. He is rubbish at Cheltenham (now 4R -0W – 0P), and he doesn’t enjoy the hill at the end. He jumped fine until the last but then melted away on the run-in. He also gets Freddie Gingell in the plate. What can possibly go wrong

AFADIL 4 pts e/w – 5 x ½ pt RFC with the shortlist

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