There was plenty of rain due at Aintree overnight and conditions are likely to be no better than good to soft for their first meeting of the season.

2.40 Aintree

I heard some racing pundits suggest earlier in the week that they didn’t think it was a vintage renewal of the Grade 2 Old Roan Chase. I disagree.

Hitman is one of my horses to follow this season and he has had his wind operated on since finishing second to the top-class Fakir D’Oudairies in the G1 Melling Chase back in the spring. He could run a cracker off top-weight and still finish second or third as I feel he may struggle to give 6lbs and more to his seven rivals. My two against the field are Soldier Of Destiny and DO YOUR JOB with preference for the latter.

Soldier Of Destiny represents the very much inform Jamie Snowden and he is likely to make a bold bid from the front, but he is unlikely to get a soft lead with Riders On The Storm and stablemate Ga Law also confirmed front runners.

Do Your Job has an excellent record fresh and improved for the step up to two-and-a-half miles when scoring at Warwick and Perth. This is likely to be the selection’s Gold Cup whereas it is possible that Paul Nicholls will bring Hitman along steadily with other long-term targets. Luca Morgan takes off 3lbs on Michael Scudamore’s 8-y-old who gets the each way vote in a cracking race.

Recommendation: Do Your Job EW at 4/1 with 10Bet

3.15 Aintree

My two against the field in the 2m 4f handicap hurdle are WILDE ABOUT OSCAR and Peking Rose and I have an each way nibble on both with marginal preference for the Skelton runner who has dropped to what looks a fair mark.

The 7-y-old was in the doldrums last season but he has gone well fresh in the past, has won over track and trip and starts this season 11lbs lower than this time last year. He was fitted with headgear for his last start back in the spring but the cheekpieces are left off this afternoon.

Peking Rose is another to have had a wind procedure during the summer but has bits of form last term which suggest he could be well treated for his return although he will surely be going over fences sooner rather than later. His 9L second to Gelino Bello – rated 148 – would suggest his current mark of 131 may not be beyond him.

Recommendation: Wilde About Oscar EW at 10/1 with Bet365 3 places or 8/1 with William Hill 4 places

1.45 Ffos Las

I recommended FAIRY GEM at Worcester earlier in the week, but she was taken out on account of the good ground which was considered too quick by connections. The ground was good to soft on Saturday morning with further rain expected overnight and on raceday.

The mare won a Bumper on debut and ran a couple of good races in defeat including when third in listed company at Sandown back in the spring. The mare was fitted with cheekpieces by Harry Fry for her last couple of starts and the aid is reapplied for her hurdles debut. She will get further in time, but this looks a decent opportunity.

Recommendation: Fairy Gem at  

2.18 Ffos Las

I hope it’s a good day for Harry Fry as HOW’S THE CRICKET is taken to make a winning chase debut for the yard. The selection was disqualified after winning a handicap hurdle at Newton Abbot back in March after a banned substance was found in his system.

The selection can race from the same mark this afternoon, goes very well fresh and certainly has the scope to jump a fence. He gets further than this 2m 3f+ trip but the soft ground will suit, and this looks an ideal starting point.

Recommendation: How’s The Cricket at 5/2 with William Hill 

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