It's the opening day of the Grand National meeting at Aintree and that is where we head for Thursday's attempt at the Placepot...
Calipto beat Activial when they both made their British debuts at Newbury back in November, but Activial appeared to press on for home too soon on that occasion and he has since shown improved form to win the Grade 2 Adonis Juvenile Hurdle at Kempton...
14:00- The opening contest looks like a competitive affair, throwing together 15 juveniles, many of whom make some sort of appeal. The obvious starting point is the Paul Nicholls-trained Calipto who looked to be going strongly before his rider suffered tack problems in the Triumph Hurdle, but that mishap hardly went unnoticed in many quarters and he is likely to be carrying plenty of lines. Calipto beat Activial when they both made their British debuts at Newbury back in November, but Activial appeared to press on for home too soon on that occasion and he has since shown improved form to win the Grade 2 Adonis Juvenile Hurdle at Kempton. The fact he bypassed Cheltenham and arrives here as a fresh horse is an obvious positive and he is the first string to our bow.
At a bigger price, it could also be worth including Baradari in the permutation. Baradari also ran in that strong Newbury race won by Calipto, finishing an encouraging sixth, and he has shown run-to-run progress since, faring best of those to have raced from off the pace in the Fred Winter last time. He really did rattle home on that occasion and, while Aintree is usually considered a sharper test, the fact the ground will be slower than at Cheltenham should put a greater emphasis on stamina which will be to his advantage.
14:30- With Silviniaco Conti arriving here on the back of a gruelling race in the Gold Cup and First Lieutenant having been below his best this season, Dynaste is presented with a good opportunity to register another Grade 1 victory. Dynaste has developed into a top-class chaser and he arrives here on the back of a smooth success in the Ryanair Chase where he was far too good for the inferior opposition. He was an easy winner of the Mildmay Novices' Chase over C&D last year and looks sure to launch a bold bid, so he is banker material.
15:05- The New One looks a cut above his rivals in the Aintree Hurdle and should have no problems bouncing back to winning ways. The New One has developed into a top-class hurdler, thrashing Rock On Ruby on his seasonal return before showing a good turn of foot to beat Zarkandar in the International Hurdle, and his two latest defeats have both been a tad unfortunate, blundering at the final flight when holding every chance at Kempton before being badly hampered by the fall of Our Conor in the Champion Hurdle. We will rely on him in the Placepot.
15:40- Mossey Joe is clearly the most likely winner of the Fox Hunters' Chase but he is sure to take up a significant proportion of the pool and it could be worth opposing him from a Placepot perspective given his tendency to throw in the odd sloppy jump (largely a sound jumper). Warne looks like a rock-solid proposition, placed in the race last year, arriving on the back of a win and able to call on the services of Sam Waley-Cohen, a man who boasts a superb record over the National fences. The second string to our bow will be the Willie Mullins-trained Boxer Georg as he has completed on all three attempts around this unique course and a recent run in a Point should have left him spot on for this.
16:15- Claret Cloak would surely have gone extremely close in the Grand Annual Chase at the Cheltenham Festival had he not blundered at the second-last fence, and, only 4 lb higher here, Emma Lavelle's lightly-raced chaser is the first horse that we will call on. Like Claret Cloak, Turn Over Sivola is also a strong-travelling novice chaser that ought to be suited by a fast pace, and he put up his best effort yet when second at Doncaster last time.
16:50- Oscar Whisky heads the market but he hasn't yet convinced that he is as good over fences as he was over hurdles, an accusation that certainly can't be thrown at Arkle winner Western Warhorse and JLT runner-up Uxizandre. True, Western Warhorse and Uxizandre weren't in the same bracket as hurdlers, but both have proven their credentials over the larger obstacles with smart efforts at the Festival and their performances should not be regarded as flukes despite the large starting prices.
14:00- 1, 3
15:40- 1, 21
16:15- 4, 12
16:50- 4, 5
= 16 lines
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