The first day of the Aintree festival, that highlights with the Grand National on Saturday, starts today. We are going to be looking at the races throughout this festival to see if we can find the winners and walk away with a profit. I will be following my festival betting approach and if you haven’t read it then you should check it out first.
2.00 – MATALAN ANNIVERSARY 4-Y-O JUVENILE HURDLE GRADE 1
Three of the runners, Flaxen Flare, Ruacana and Zamdy Man, were at Cheltenham racing against each other on the 13th March. Flaxen Flare won the race beating the others by a considerable way. This is a good start as there is no reason this wouldn’t happen again and allows us to remove two runners immediately. Bobs World is of a significantly lower class and is unlikely to be able to make his way to the front in this race, so I am also happy to remove him as a contender.
L’unique was beaten by over 8 lengths on the 23rd February by Irish Saint and over 7 lengths by Vasco Du Ronceray. This allows us to be confident to remove him from contention.
This leaves us with Vasco Du Ronceray, Rolling Star, Irish Saint, Runswick Royal, Hefner and Flaxen Flare as potential contenders in this race. Vasco Du Ronceray looks like he may be pushed a little bit in the class today as he has been declining in performance, however there is still potential for him to put in a good run. Flaxen Flare has the best form ratings but Vasco Du Ronceray and Rolling Star have been racing against the best horses.
Hefner looks unlikely to be able to match the class of horses running today and could find himself struggling. Irish Saint looks to be very strong having been racing competitively recently in races with classy horses. Flaxen Flare has been improving strongly and if that continues today then we could see a good performance from this runner, although competing against better runners today.
Runswick Royal while improving and showing good figures, could struggle against todays contenders and so I’m also going to remove him from contention. There is no doubt that this is going to be a very competitive race and we are looking for any sign of weakness in order to reduce the field. While having a chance at contending I am going to have to remove Vascu Du Ronceray who has shown some decline in performance recently. This leaves Rolling Star, Irish Saint and Flaxen Flare with very little to choose between them.
Selection: Current odds allow a 45% return on investment for a dutch across what are currently the three market leaders. There is very little to split between Rolling Star, Irish Saint and Flaxen Flare so I will be dutching them.
2.30 – BETFRED BOWL CHASE GRADE 1
A wide open race, and unsurprisingly Silviniaco Conti is at the front of the market having won at Aintree last year, Wetherby in November 2012 and Newbury in February 2013. In the Wetherby race he beat Wayward Prince, First Lieutenant and Quito De La Roque. He fell at Cheltenham and Nicholls and Walsh will be looking to recover from that fall today.
Quito De La Roque has been showing a progressively downwards trend in his performance and this is of concern. I would like to see a return to top performance before being will to bet on him in a race like the one today.
Wayward Prince came 7th at Cheltenham in the 15:20 behind Cape Tribulation and The Giant Bolster. However The GIant Bolster never seems to be able to quite make it and take the winning position which gives cause for concern.
Menorah and Cape Tribulation could be the ones to beat today, both having good form and speed figures and having performed well recently. They have been racing in competitive races but they do have a preference for slightly softer ground and the firmer going today could cause them some trouble. Whereas First Lieutenant has been steadily improving and likes the firmer ground condition.
Looking at the market Silviniaco Conti and First Lieutenant are too short for me to want to consider them. This leaves us with Menorah, Cape Tribulation and The Giant Bolster who all have a chance at taking a place.
Selection: Menorah has shown the strongest collateral and all-round figures and should be able to compete well in this race. I will betting him each-way.
3.05 – JOHN SMITH´S AINTREE HURDLE GRADE
I am going to start by removing Saphir River from contention in this race as it is very unlikely that this runner will be able to match the other runners today. I’m also going to remove Zarkandar, Oscar Whisky, Countrywide Flame and Rays Star from contention. All these runners have shown a recent decline in performance and in competitions that are so competitive this is a warning sign.
That leaves us with Prospect Wells, The New One, Thousand Stars and Grandouet. Prospect Wells came third at Aintree last year and is back to try and improve on this positions. He is a consistent performer over these conditions and is a distance winner. He has been running against high class horses but there may be a slight rise for him today and he will need to be on hist best performance if he is to make it. However he has a clear preference for slightly firmer ground which he is going to get today and this could go strongly in his favour.
The New One won at the Cheltenham Festival on the 13th March just a few weeks ago and could be back for another great performance. He is a course winner but I think we may need to see some improvement today if he is going to take the race. Current odds of just 2/1 look far too short for this runner in todays race!
Selections: Prospect Wells looks to have a good chance of contending in this race and at current odds of 14/1 makes an excellent each-way proposition.
3.40 – JOHN SMITH´S FOX HUNTERS´ CHASE
With twenty five declared runners we need to cut down this field ruthlessly. To do this I am going to be removing any horse that hasn’t run a good race recently, any runner that has been declining in performance and any runner that does not look to have the class necessary to win this race.
That leaves us with seven possible contenders. Looking at performers over similar conditions we can see that Rash Move loves todays conditions and will put in a good race, however the class rise for him is like to be too much to overcome. Keennan’s Future gives us cause for concern having a high proportion of races either falling or being pulled up. That is not a risk I would like to take and so will be removing him from contention as well.
Cottage Oak is interesting, although only coming 8th at Uttoxeter on the 1st July 2012 he managed to put in a strong figure. There is a class rise today but he has shown consistent performance and could be one to look out for, however there is some concern over a clear preference for softer ground and without this may find the class rise is just a bit too much for him to compete with.
Also of interest is Gwanako. We would like to have seen better figures from his race at Sandown on the 8th March, despite him winning the race, but he can compete at todays level. He has a slight edge over Cottage Oak as a course and distance winner and having been racing at a slightly better level than Cottage Oak recently.
Selections: This is a very tough race and when there are this many runners in the field it is possible for anything to happen. However the two strongest potential contenders look to be Cottage Oak and Gwanako. Gwanako has a slight edge for me and I will be backing him to win.
4.15 – MATALAN.CO.UK RED RUM HANDICAP CHASE GRADE 3
Another big race with 18 declared runners. I am going to use the same process as in the last race and start by removing those runners who have not had a good race recently. Doing this removes seven runners who have not had a good race in over a year. Next we remove those who have shown a decline in performance which removes another runner.
Of those that are left this race is wide open. Toubab looks strong and has been improving. His race at Doncaster on the 2nd of March was excellent and if he can re-create that today then he will be one to watch out for. Oiseau De Nuit has been racing against strong competitors and showing improvement but he doesn’t get up to win many of his races.
Silver Roque however is a distance winner who is well weighted today and this could go strongly in his favour. He is in good form and has the potential to take a place in this race if he stays out of trouble. Kings Grey has been showing a decline recently with a disappointing run at Doncaster on the 29th December. I doubt he is going to have the class to be able to contend in todays race.
Rebel Rebellion also has potential today if he can get a clear run. He has performed well over this distance on heavy ground but has also shown he likes it when the ground is firmer as well. His last race was a good performance and put an end to a decline that he had been facing.
There are a number of runners in this competitive race that could take the winning position. Looking at the market the current favourite is Kid Cassidy who certainly has potential but although having place recently he has been a long way behind the winner on both occasions and has not actually been competitive for over a year so I can’t be confident in placing my money on him.
Selection: I am going to be placing a dutch in this race across Toubab, Oiseau De Nuit and Rebel Rebellion
4.50 – BETFRED MANIFESTO NOVICES´ CHASE GRADE 1
We have just an 8 field race to come back to now, but this doesn’t make it any less competitive! His Excellency put in a great performance at Cheltenham back in October and if he can do this again he is definitely going to be the one to beat. Sunny Ledgend while potentially able to contend today is likely to be beaten off in class by runners such as Changing Times and Captain Conan.
Drumshambo while having produced good figures I don’t think is going to have the class to compete in todays race and I would want to see more from him in higher classes before I was confident.
There is concern over His Excellency’s volaility, this is quite an unpredictable runner and as bettors that is a concern. He has been on an upward trend recently but it is always possible for that to end today. The two runners that interest me the most are Captain Conan and Changing Times. Both of these horses show potential and could take the race today. There is a slight preference for Captain Conan as he has had a good race in the last 60 days and shown an impressive strike rate by winning 50% of all his races so far in his career. He has been racing against slightly better runners and this stands him in good stead for today.
Selection: I will be backing Captain Conan to win.
5.25 – SILVER CROSS HANDICAP HURDLE GRADE 3
The final race of the day is another large field with twenty two declared runners. Of these Close House is a non-runner and so the field is reduced to a still large twenty one. There are only three runners who have not had a good race recently and this reduces the field to eighteen runners. Removing those who are declining or look unable to compete at todays level still leaves us with twelve runners and tells us that this is a race that is going to be ultra competitive.
Of those twelve runners Buthelezi cannot be ignored. While there is a rise in class his performance at Catterick on the 16th February was excellent and re-producing this form will be key. Of concern though is whether he can also cope with the significant increase in distance and this could cause a problem. I would like to see proof that he can compete over this distance before putting a bet on him.
Jetson beat First Fandango and Ely Brown at Cheltenham on the 14th March by a significant amount and there is no reason that this shouldn’t be replicated again today. Hada Men put in a good run in April last year but has been declining every since and has not been able to get a place over similar conditions in the last 12 months. We would want to see that this horse can still compete before risking our money on him.
Ericht has been steadily improving but will be seeing a significant increase in distance which could trip him up, however he is a definite potential threat in this race and cannot be ignored. Sixty Something ran a great race at Aintree in October and won over the same course and distance. While he is stepping up in class today this stands him in excellent stead to contend in the race and we do not want to forget about him.
Barafundle likes these conditions but there is concern over whether the ground is going to be too soft for him today. He has proven he likes the distance but may be thrown by firmer going.
Selections: This is a tough race and one I wouldn’t normally be suggesting you bet in. I am going to be dutching Jetson and Ericht as two that have a strong potential and are offering good odds.