Aintree Placepot: Saturday October 27

The Paul Nicholls-trained Empire Levant runs in the first

Tony McFadden heads to Aintree in an attempt to land the Placepot on Saturday...

It is hard to forget just how impressive Empire Levant was on his seasonal reappearance last year, winning a Newbury handicap in effortless fashion...

13:50- It is hard to forget just how impressive Empire Levant was on his seasonal reappearance last year, winning a Newbury handicap in effortless fashion. He was turned out again a mere two days later in the Gerry Fielden and put up what would prove to be a useful performance, splitting Rock on Ruby and Raya Star. True, he couldn't replicate that level of form on his next two starts, but, still only a five-year-old, there is every chance the Paul Nicholls-trained gelding is capable of better. He will be joined in the 'pot' by Ultimate. There was a degree of promise to his recent effort at Market Rasen and this sharp two miles should be in his favour.

14:25- A potentially tricky contest, but the first horse to turn to is last year's winner, Nikola. Granted, Nikola isn't the most consistent of performers, but he did win this contest off a 6 lb higher mark last year and his proven ability to go well fresh is certainly a positive. Big Fella Thanks is having his first start for the Tom George yard and looks to be well treated if fit enough on his return from an absence; he is also included.

14:55- Pasco is certainly a risky proposition, given how tamely he often finishes, but it may be worth taking a chance on him. The change of yard could potentially revitalise him and the assessor has dropped him to a fair mark, so we will include Pasco. However, he is not a banker, so Lexicon Lad also makes the perm. The fact Lexicon Lad won on his first outing last year is a positive and he is entitled to respect on his return.

15:30- A cracking renewal of the Old Roan Chase and there are plenty of interesting contenders to choose from. Noble Prince disappointed in the Ryanair at Cheltenham, but he has an interesting profile and certain pieces of form, notably his win in the Jewson the previous year, leave him holding excellent claims. For Non Stop is the other horse we will include. He improved for the switch to chasing last year, landing a Grade 1 at Newbury, and he looks like a solid proposition from what could prove to be a fair mark.

16:00- Hit The Switch is the obvious selection, having improved since moving to Donald McCain, finishing in the frame on all five starts. He appeared to be slightly unfortunate not to register a hat-trick of wins last time, hitting the second-last flight before rallying gamely, and, although he is now higher in the weights, this thriving sort merits inclusion. Indeed, so strong are his claims we will bank on him to see us through to the final leg.

16:35- Unioniste is obviously respected given his connections, but he is likely to command a considerable proportion of the pool and it is worth taking him on with Carlito Brigante and Distime. The former was a smart hurdler and it looks as if he will make an impact in this sphere, entering this contest on the back of a win at Cheltenham last time. Distime ran his best race last season when finishing second here on his seasonal return and he shouldn't be underestimated on his first start over fences.


13:50- 1, 6
14:25- 1, 9
14:55- 1, 3
15:30- 4, 5
16:00- 12
16:35- 1, 4
= 32 lines

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