A Trip to Aintree
Burton Port ½ Point EW 25/1 (PP,5 places)
Oscar Time ½ Point EW 33/1 (PP, 5 places)
Alfie Spinner ½ Point EW 25/1 (bet365, 5 places)
What a race.
I will be at Sandown but will be watching intently on the TV. Having lived in Liverpool for 7 years Aintree has a special place in my heart so I thought I would look at their two big races. I think the Tingle Creek is between the top two in the market and will probably just back God’s Own but its not a race I will get overly involved in. Bar watching top class chasers such as Kauto Star and Denman bounce around Cheltenham I don’t think there are many finer sights in National Hunt racing than watching horses jump these fences. Yes I know they have been changed in recent years. I for one am happier that when horses now fall they are tending to get back up again. But, you still need to jump well. Every race over the modified fences has seen the field strung out many furlongs by the time the winner crosses the line. It still takes a certain type of horses, with the right attributes, to compete over these fences – whether it be the Grand Sefton, Becher Chase, Foxhunters or the big one.
So, to the selections.
The first thing to say is that I have used trends to narrow down the field but have also gone through every runner in the race. 12 of the last 17 winners finished Top 5 last time out, with 4 others Pulling Up. 13/17 winners were aged 8,9 or 10 (4 winners older than this) and you can forget those horses returning to the course within 15 days of their last run. Currently 0 from the 65 horses to have tried. 15/17 also had 0,1 or 2 runs that season.
Using a strict interpretation of those trends leaves a shortlist of 11, including Burton Port and Alfie Spinner. 14/17 winners were top 9 in the market but you can’t really make a judgement on that until much nearer the race.
I would like to think I have 3 live chances here, and hope a couple of them get backed.
First thing to say is that it won’t be stamina that beats them. They are all proven over a few furlongs further than this so that should not be a problem.
I really like this horse and hope that Jonjo can get him to show something as his career enters the final few furlongs. There were signs last year, especially his gallant second at Sandown, which suggested he is far from done with yet. In fact his biggest negative is the form of the stable. Jonjo is very cold at the moment but 25s was too big to ignore. He also has the services of a jockey who has come second in a Grand National and clearly knows his was around the course. I actually backed Burton Port for last year’s Grand National but he departed early in what looked a soft fall. He is a prominent racer who has a touch of class. He likes Aintree as a destination and is usually a sound jumper. Given he is 13lb below his highest ever winning mark if he does click back into form he could carry a few of these on his back and still win! All in all a very solid chance. I am hoping Jonjo doesn’t have a virus in the yard or something and that his form is just one of those cyclical things. Hopefully old Burton Port can turn things around. If he completes I would be disappointed were he not in the top 5. If he drops out I will blame the stable form 🙂
Alfie Spinner is hard to win with, as a record of 1/19 chases demonstrates. However he has won or placed in 10 of his chases so is nothing but consistent. He has ran some very solid races recently, including last time out. He has the ability and form to win this race. In fact the only unknown is how he will take to the fences. If he takes to them, and he has only unseated rider once (never fell), he has the class and stamina to go close. I like prominent racers around Aintree and he ticks that box. All in all I hope another live chance.
You would like to think something with younger legs will get the better of him here, although Hello Bud proved that age is no barrier in this race. His Grand National record, albeit for his previous trainer reads 2nd and 4th. No doubts over the course, no doubts over stamina. He has won or placed in 11 of his 19 chases and again tends to run up with the pace. Sam Waley-Cohen has a lot of critics but he does know how to ride this course and these fences in particular. This old timer may be regressive but we are getting 7.25/1 for 4 places to aim at and given we know he loves this place that was too good to resist. Again he is well handicapped and should give us a good run for our money.
Well on paper you could literally make a case for nearly every runner. For those that like young progressive horses who are still improving and may relish this test you have plenty of choice. Knock A Hand, Just A Par, Goonyella, Balbriggan, Ben Bens and Mendip Express are just a few that tick those boxes and could be given chances. Personally I prefer a proven hardy sort who has been there and done it for a race like this. Chance Du Roy obviously has every chance. There is not a chink in his armour and his price is decent enough at around 12/1. I couldn’t put you off him. One possible negative is his brilliant run in the Grand National 245 days ago and you never know if such an effort has taken something out of a horse until they run again. At least he has had a decent break and won this last year after a similar time off.
How will the race be run?
This looks like it will be run at a frenetic pace and it may be best to sit just off the leaders. Highland Lodge, Master Neo, Balbriggan, Ballybough Gorta, Burton Port, Goonyella, Renard and Knock A Hand have all led on recent starts. There are a few more prominent racers to throw into the mix too. So, it should be frenetic but you do want to be up there. I would have to check but I don’t think hold up horses have a great record at Aintree, across all 3 different courses.
To summarise I hope I have 3 live chances here. They should all track the pace. They all generally jump well and stamina will not be an issue. They are well handicapped hardy types who are generally consistent and I would be disappointed if they were not thereabouts. There are so many live chances in this that I may not have mentioned the winner. These races do not make or break my punting year and they are just a great spectacle to enjoy. Winning it would just be the cherry, on top of the icing.
Grand Sefton Chase
Too Cool To Fool ½ point EW 100/1 Paddy Power
Very rarely will I back a horse that is this big in price. Rarely can I find enough reasons to justify it, but on this occasion I can.
There are many overly strong trends in this race but 10 of the last 11 winners have been aged 8 or older. There has also yet to be a winner who carried 11-12, 12 have tried to date. Removing those aged younger than 8 and the top weight Rolling Aces cuts the field in half and leaves a shortlist of 8, including the selection.
Firstly, bar last year’s winner Rebel Rebellion, I found it hard to make a case for anything else. They all have serious form and race condition questions to answer in my opinion and none of them could confidently carry my money.
Then we get on to Too Cool To Fool. What caught my attention was that in the last 8 years Jim Goldie has won this race twice. One of those wins was with a horse called Lampion Du Bost who won at 66/1. Knowing this I just couldn’t let this horse go by given his odds. If he were to provide the trainer with a 3rd winner at 66/1 or 100/1 I don’t think I could live with myself. On all known Official Ratings he doesn’t stand much of a chance but these fences can cause strange results. He is a prominent racer which is a positive and is generally consistent having won or placed in 6 of his 12 chase starts. Given his age he is still lightly raced. Going left handed is preferred, the ground in no problem and neither is the distance. For me he is a live 100/1 shot and if he finishes 2nd, 3rd or 4th it will be like having a 12/1 winner with 1 point staked.
In a race where not too much stands out he will do for me.