My day can be summarised by the outcome of the Aintree race at 4:40 pm, and my huge wager on STAG HORN. So appalled was I by the unfolding drama, that I hurled abuse and a half-eaten Cornish Pasty at the television, as I decided that STAG HORN had been bumped and bored and generally given a bad time by a dastardly compatriot of the weighing room. The Pasty was of no great distinction but was very hot indeed, and fresh (such an over-used word for anything by Ginsters) from the oven. So hot was it, that I dropped it mid-hurl, so that it merely fell into my lap, scalding both fingers and crotch.
The Stewards in their wisdom took a differing view – perhaps based on having a head-on camera and no Pasties. The official report was as follows:
An enquiry was held to consider interference approaching the second last hurdle involving GENTLEMAN AT ARMS (IRE), placed second, ridden by Ciaran Gethings and STAG HORN, placed eighth, ridden by Nick Scholfield. Scholfield was suspended for 5 days for improper riding as he manoeuvred his horse left-handed towards GENTLEMAN AT ARMS (IRE) who was racing alongside him, when it ought to have been obvious that by doing so, he would force that gelding off its intended line. This resulted in the two runners making contact and caused Gethings to steer his mount right-handed in order to jump the hurdle.
Here is the video of all the race finishes. The Pasty is launched after 4 mins.
The stewards were obviously right – but I still have to explain to The Hon. Plantagenet why my fingers are covered in butter-soaked muslin rags (careful of the spell-checker here), and why my trousers have an unexplainable brown stain on the front. She too will hold a Stewards Enquiry and the outcome will be far worse than being Stood Down or even Warned Off.
Of course, if I were Tiger Woods, no such problems would exist. He could chuck, and indeed probably has done, Cornish Pasties at the TV, Will Smith and Chris Rock, Michelle Obama and Donald Trump, and the entire US Golfing community would still be offering him the Brown Sauce to chuck after them. He is a majestic figure at Augusta, a wounded Leonidas limping slightly as he strides around his own Thermopylae, the 18 holes of Augusta determined to pain him further and to break his dignity. The very real affection of the crowd keeps the worst of the cruel winds at bay. Meanwhile, as I type, we have all seven selections to win The Masters projected to make the cut and first and second on the leaderboard with only a few holes of the second round left.
Only a major win today can get me reinstated. Here are my hopes for the next few difficult hours…
1:45 EFT Construction Hcap Hurdle (G3) Cl1 (4yo+) 3m½f 22 runners
The likely favourite, WINTER FOG, ran well in the Pertemps and meets most of the trends. BEAUPORT is on a number of tipping sheets and tries the distance for the second time and THIRD WIND who did win The Pertemps only really fails the trends because he is no longer a novice. The basic profile of the last 7 winners is a 6-9 yo with a maximum of 10 career hurdle races, who has run in the last 10 weeks and had a top 10 finish with a rating of 137+. That gives me the favourite and BEAUPORT for sure and REMASTERED would be of interest and IF THE CAP FITS from Harry Fry’s yard is a decent price. Are you beginning to see another trend here – because there are at least six other names here I fancy? Swerve it or be lucky…. oh by the by, POUNDING POET is deffo the wrong price.
BEAUPORT 2 pts e/w – IF THE CAP FITS 1pt e/w – POUNDING POET 1 pt e/w (7 places with Skybet)
2:25 Betway Mersey Novices’ Hurdle (G1) Cl1 (4yo+) 2m4f 13 runners
Here’s a fact – all four Ballymore Hurdle winners to run here since 1999 have won. We don’t have the winner, but we do have THREE STRIP LIFE who was the runner-up. STAGE STAR was also in it but he pulled up. They’re both high in the trends and TSL is rated 150 after all. NELLS SON has won a G2, is going up in trip and missed Cheltenham which might be a good thing. NORTH LODGE has Graded race form and ELLE EST BELLE from the Skeltons, who just beat Gentleman at Arms LTO who was a decent second today in the G1 Sefton Nov Hdl.
NELLS SON 1pt e/w – Dutch NORTH LODGE and ELLE EST BELLE for 3pts
3:00 Poundland Maghull Novices’ Chs (G1) Cl1 (5yo+) 2m 7 runners
The last 4 Arkle winners to have come here won. It’s not going to happen a fifth time … Why?
EDWARDSTONE 5 pts win
3:35 JRL Group Liverpool Hurdle (G1) Cl1 (4yo+) 3m½f 9 runners
There are only three horses on every shortlist and they are THYME HILL – CHAMP and FLOORING PORTER. I can find nothing to make me think the winner isn’t in that group. Here’s a trend: Of the last six winners of The Stayers to come here, five have won. Again I ask – why not again?
FLOORING PORTER 3 pts Win
4:15 Betway Hcap Chs (G3) Cl1 (5yo+) 3m1f 17 runners
OSCAR ELITE and TEA CLIPPER both head my ratings but are of no value in this cavalry charge. Two that appeal for small stakes are KILLER KANE and EXELERATOR EXPRESS. I don’t expect the latter to win, but you can get 6 places for 40/1 with Skybet so is worth a punt that Sam will help, that Neil has him fit and they’re not just here for the tickets.
KILLER KANE 2pts e/w – EXELERATOR EXPRESS 1pt e/w
5:15 Randox Grand National Hcap Chs (G3) Cl1 (7yo+) 4m2½f 40 runners
Over the last 20 years, there have been so many changes to the fences, the distance and the demographic of the race that almost all trends are now defunct and one should not really go back more than 10 years for an overview of the ideal winner. However, some things still hold true I believe, which is that you need to be able to jump and you need to be able to stay. So swerve anything that has two or more career falls and hasn’t won at 3m and further. You might also have noticed that the last four winners of the Cheltenham Cross Country that raced here finished 2211 – but did Delta make the list?
- At least 1 win over 3m+
- No more than 2 seasonal falls and no more than 2 career falls.
- An OR of at least 143
- Aged 8 – 11 yo
- At least 10 career Chase runs and at least 3 seasonal runs
- Maximum weight of 11st 3lbs
- Between 20-60 DSLR (Days Since Last Run)
You can narrow fields down further if you like by looking at recent finishing positions – but from those suggestions, this year’s list comes down to 9 – and few of them are favourites.
This is the list:
- Fortescue: Currently 4lb better off than his GN weight.
- Cloth Cap: Fav last year – has had breathing problems but he has got more Ps than a pod by his name. It may all be ground-related
- Death Duty: G1 in 2017. Won the GN trial at Punchestown in Feb.
- Good Boy Bobby: Daryl Jacob’s first choice. Won twice at Wetherby this season for NTD
- Dingo Dollar: 2nd in Scottish Grand National last year.
- Santini: 2nd 2020 Gold Cup. 8th this year. Ground? Pace? Polly Gundry sounds hopeful rather than confident.
- Two For Gold: Had a brilliant season to date. I think Oli Bell is in the syndicate.
- Poker Party: Hmmm
- Domaine De L’Isle: 4th in The Beecher in December. Didn’t run in The Scottish National last week in the hope he’d make the cut
FORTESCUE 2pt e/w – GOOD BOY BOBBY 1 pt e/w – DINGO DOLLAR 1½pts e/w – TWO FOR GOLD 1 pt win – DOMAIN DE LISLE 1 pt e/w
6:20 Weatherbys nhstallions.co.uk Bumper (G2) Cl1 (4-6yo) 2m1f 20 runners
CRAMBO 1½pts e/w – LEAVE OF ABSENCE 2 pts e/w