The ground was described as good to soft at Aintree on Friday morning ahead of today’s card with the small chance of a shower on raceday.
In the Novices’ Handicap Chase Time To Get Up makes his British debut for Jonjo O’Neill having had just three starts in Maiden hurdles in his native Ireland for Joseph O’Brien. As a son of Presenting, he is likely to be well served by the drying ground. His 11L second to subsequent Cheltenham Festival winner Monkfish is good form and a market move would be worth noting.
Point winner Quoi De Neuf makes his chase debut at a track where he won his sole hurdle at this corresponding meeting two years ago. He remains a horse of some potential but the Evan Williams yard are badly out of form and preference is for Northofthewall (1.00) who made mistakes at Uttoxeter in a hot race on his chase debut but is entitled to come on for the experience. The selection – 4s with William Hill – is 1lb lower this afternoon but will need to brush up his fencing given the Mildmay course is a tough test for a novice chaser.
My two against the field in the 2m 4f chase are Springtown Lake and Dashing Perk (2.10) with preference for the latter who has a good record fresh and represents the stable of Dr Richard Newland who has his string in such good form.
The each way selection – 17/2 with BetVictor – is lightly-raced for a nine-year-old and his win at Sandown on his reappearance in December was gained from a horse – Paint The Dream – now rated 137. With that in mind the gelding remains potentially well treated from his current mark of 131. Sam Twiston-Davies takes over in the saddle.
I am a big fan of Summerville Boy (2.40) and thought he might go to the very top over fences after an impressive chase debut at Uttoxeter 12 months ago. Connections have reverted to hurdles with the 8-y-old since he fell at the water jump at Sandown the following month, and he beat last weekend’s impressive Wetherby scorer Roksana at Cheltenham over New Year. Jonathan Burke is likely to try and make every post a winning one. Tom George’s former Festival winner is 10/3 with William Hill.
The 2m Handicap Chase is a tricky puzzle to solve but I think there is more to come from Rough Night (3.20) at the foot of the weights and feel he can make a winning reappearance. The selection -13/2 with William Hill – won first time out two seasons ago and should have the race run to suit with Theflyingportrait likely to ensure an end-to-end gallop.
Over at Wincanton and Sunrise Ruby (1.50) can defy a 6lbs rise for scoring at Kempton last time when she was value for more than the official margin of 5L. Good ground is clearly important to Nicky Henderson’s progressive mare and she receives 7lbs from chief market rival Cill Anna who will surely prefer softer ground. The ew recommendation is 9/2 with Boylesports who are betting 4 places.
Just A Sting (3.35) finished fourth in the Badger Beer 12 months ago and I feel he has a leading chance this afternoon for Harry Fry whose string have gone off the boil slightly after a very good start to the campaign. The ew recommendation won on soft ground at Kempton over Christmas but I thought that was despite the ground rather than him appreciating underfoot conditions. I believe today’s good ground is ideal and at 17/2 with William Hill – who are betting five places – I would be disappointed if he were out of the frame.
My two against the field in the November Handicap are Sam Cooke (3.15) and Surrey Pride with preference for Ralph Beckett’s lightly raced four-year-old who has not been seen since finishing second at Ascot back in July. The forecast soft ground clearly suits, and he would have been a confident selection had it not been for his wide draw in stall 20. The ew recommendation is 6/1 with 10bet – 5 places.
I am Kameko’s (8.15) biggest fan and he did us a huge favour when landing the 2000 Guineas back in June. I hope he can bookend the flat season with success in the Breeders’ Cup Mile this evening. Andrew Balding’s classic winner – 4s with Unibet – has an ideal draw in stall two and he will be hoping that he can track Circus Maximus who looks sure to go forward from the inside box.