Forced to work for a living nowadays, Jack Houghton has had to come up with profitable punting strategies that don't rely on hours of form study. Having taken us through the four days at Cheltenham, he is looking to reprise his success at Aintree...
"I won’t be getting involved with any of the triumvir at the head of the market. As discussed elsewhere, I have various doubts about Teaforthree ([12.0]), Monbeg Dude ([15.0]) and Long Run ([15.0])"
One winner yesterday in Josses Hill at [2.54], and another string of good performances with big-priced horses like French Opera, Tatenen and Alaivan, but the account for Aintree currently sits on the wrong side of profit and loss. I'm not losing faith in the method, though, so here's my take on Saturday's card...
Back Wilde Blue Yonder and Sea Lord.
Although a winner at Cheltenham, Lac Fontana's County Hurdle victory, according to the clock, is around 5lbs inferior to Wilde Blue Yonder's Supreme Novices' fifth, and I would expect the latter-named to have the better of things at around [6.1]. Sea Lord ([9.2]) is likely to be a big danger, though: his best times have come on flat tracks and so, although off the racecourse since November, it wouldn't be a huge surprise to see him making a winning return.
Trifolium's Arkle third is the best piece of form on offer here, so he looks a solid bet at around [4.0]. One slight note of caution is that he hasn't raced on a flat track in Britain and Ireland, but given his strong form in France early in his career, it should cause few concerns.
Back Melodic Rendezvous.
Five bits of Cheltenham form on offer here, of which Melodic Rendezvous' seventh in the Champion Hurdle is the strongest on the clock. That was over two miles, though, and this represents his first step up to the longer distance. Even so, I'm prepared to take a chance on him at around [8.0], chiefly because his best piece of life-time form came at Wincanton: a track as similarly flat as Aintree. Of those proven to stay, At Fishers Cross has the best chance, but at around [2.76] he is an unappealing bet.
Back Wetak and Renard.
Wetak ([15.0]) and Renard ([24.0]) both ran ninth in their respective handicaps at Cheltenham and, according to my ratings at least, recorded exactly the same speed rating (adjusted for today's weights) in the process. Both have solid form on flat tracks (in Wetak's case at Auteuil) and, at generous odds, both can be backed.
Back Double Seven, Tidal Bay, Chance Du Roy, The Package and Swing Bill.
As outlined earlier in the week, much of my attention for the big race will be focused on the in-play angle, but I'll also be having an interest before things get underway.
One thing for sure is that I won't be getting involved with any of the triumvir at the head of the market. As discussed elsewhere, I have various doubts about Teaforthree ([12.0]), Monbeg Dude ([15.0]) and Long Run ([15.0]) and will be looking to lay them in-running if they trade much below [4.0].
Five contenders I have few doubts about are Double Seven ([19.0]), Tidal Bay ([19.0]), Chance Du Roy ([48.0]), The Package ([21.0]) and Swing Bill ([150.0]). They are all likely to get the trip, they all jump well enough, and they have all proven themselves able to deal with the particular stamina-sapping nature of a long-distance race on a flat course. I'll be having an interest in all of them.
Strongpoint ([26.0]) is the fastest of these on the clock at the weights, having put up a series of consistent performances on flat Scottish tracks. At a big price he's the obvious bet.
Modus has the best form of any of these - his eighth in the Champion Bumper reading well enough - but there is scope for any of the others to be better on a very different track to that which Modus raced on in March. I'll be bypassing the race.
*All odds quoted are a guide and it is recommended you take Betfair SP.