Aintree Tips: All the best Ladies Day wagers
A racegoer makes her way through the aftermath of day two at Aintree
"Fine Parchment's accurate jumping and easy cruising speed look made for a race like this and I'll be siding with him and Mon Parrain in the hope of laying both horses at around [3.0] in running if they live up to expectations."
It's the middle day of the Aintree marathon and few know the Liverpool course better than Racing UK's primo pundit Graham Cunningham. Read his day two wagers here
Seasoned observers reckon it represents one of the most demanding tests of stamina in the entire world of sport.
No, not the Grand National but the day-long bender that is Ladies' Day at Aintree.
RUK analyst Graham Cunningham is a veteran of Liverpool's long good Friday and fancies at least one southern-based lady to come to the fore on day two of a superb three-day Festival.
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Some of the Cheltenham form travels smoothly to Liverpool and - as Denman's Thursday defeat showed all too clearly - some of it just doesn't.
No matter, Friday is another day and there are several angles worth exploring on a very tough card.
The most interesting horse of the day is Mon Parrain in the Topham Chase at 15:40 and this exciting French recruit to the Paul Nicholls yard could be a great sight over the National fences.
Nicholls was confident this five-year-old would need the race on his British bow at Sandown last month but he blew that theory to bits with a combination of bold jumping and powerful galloping which was impossible to fault.
It was a performance which brought back memories of Cyfor Malta, who emerged from France at the tender age of five to romp away with this race over a decade ago.
I'm not saying Mon Parrain is as good as Cyfor Malta. But I am saying that he's still well treated despite a 16lb hike in the weights and highly likely to go very close indeed if he finds a smooth rhythm over these unique obstacles.
Before leaving the Topham I have to put in a word for my old ally Fine Parchment.
Charlie Mann's gelding has done me several good turns over the last two seasons and proved that he's still on the up with a bold display in a well-contested handicap at Newbury last month.
Fine Parchment idled late having put his stamp on things that day. His accurate jumping and easy cruising speed look made for a race like this and I'll be siding with him and Mon Parrain in the hope of laying both horses at around [3.0] in running if they live up to expectations.
The other horse I'm keen on this Friday is Golan Way in the Mildmay Chase at 14:30 and there looks to be some mileage in backing Sheena West's gelding at the best price available with a view to trading out at around [4.0] in the run.
Granted, Golan Way has several pounds to find with the RSA Chase third Wayward Prince and the progressive Irish raider Quito De La Roque on chasing form, but that pair are both thorough stayers with the potential to get chopped for speed on the final circuit.
By contrast, Golan Way is a zestful front runner with a sound jumping technique and a willingness to dig in when pressed.
Fitness seems unlikely to be a major concern after a winter break and he's capable of giving his followers a real shout for their money on a track which should suit him well.
The featured Melling Chase at 15:05 looks every inch a 4-1 the field race and in betting terms it's probably one for minimum stakes.
That said, Master Minded is an each way price and if he's on his game after a blip in the Champion Chase then he's more than capable of going close in a field which is good but far from great.
As time goes on it looks more and more as if Master Minded needs plenty of give underfoot to show his best. Yesterday's times suggest conditions won't be a problem here and his Ascot romp in November suggests this trip ought to be within his range, too.
I've looked long and hard at the opening Top Novices' Hurdle without coming to a firm conclusion.
Suffice to say that Sire De Grugy, Topolski and Desert Cry look the three with the strongest credentials.
Splitting the trio isn't easy, but Topolski has shown a marked turn of foot to win both his hurdling starts thus far and should be well served by playing a stalking role in this biggish field.
Ladies' Day Recommendations
14:30: Back Golan Way and lay off at [4.0] in-running
15:40: Back Mon Parrain and Fine Parchment at [6.0] and [15.0] or bigger and lay off at [3.0] in-running
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