Timeform's Ben Fearnley takes a look at Saturday's Grand Sefton at Aintree and recommends a bet.
"He built on that again on the back of a break when narrowly going down to Present Man by a neck at Ascot next time, seeing out the longer trip thoroughly and shaping very well..."
Saturday's Grade 1 action comes from Sandown Park in the form of the Tingle Creek, and though there has been no official announcement from Willie Mullins about the participation of last season's superstar Arkle winner Douvan, the markets at the time of writing indicate that he will indeed turn up (backed from 5/1 into 4/7 on Tuesday morning). Second-guessing the markets often proves costly, and Douvan would hardly look a shady favourite if he turns up, so with the Tingle Creek off the betting menu (at least for now), we head up to Aintree in search of more attractive punting opportunities.
The final race on the card, the Grand Sefton, has an interesting shape to it, with last year's winner Bennys Mist currently favourite. He goes well over the course, having also been second in the Topham in 2014, and it isn't a big concern that he was pulled up on his warm-up for this race, given that he failed to complete on both his starts prior to winning last year's renewal. Though he is now 7 lb higher in the weights, he was second from his current mark (145) at Newbury on his penultimate start last season and should run well, for all he isn't much of a price given the competitive field he will likely face.
Another with experience of the National fences - though not quite as much as Bennys Mist - is David Pipe's La Vaticane, who was eighth in the Topham on her final start last season, where she deserved extra credit for being the only one to make any notable mid-race headway. She often delivered less than she promised off the bridle last season (looked somewhat tripless), however, and though she was better than the bare result again in a listed mares' race at Market Rasen last time (hampered at the last but was probably second-best at the time anyway) she can be left alone as general second favourite.
As de Mee is having only his second season over fences but has already had some experience of this course, finishing a creditable seventh in the Topham last season. He was highly-tried last term and didn't need to improve to finally break his chasing duck in a maiden at Fontwell in October, but he turned in a lacklustre display in the BetVictor Gold Cup last time and though he seems on a workable mark, he has a bit to prove now.
Rathlin was third in the 2015 Topham and is also probably lurking on a workable mark (9 lb lower) for Micky Hammond. Things didn't go to plan for him in last season's Topham (lost place early before unseating five out) and he should come on for his reappearance at Wetherby, where he shaped as if he needed the run.
Dr Richard Newland knows what it takes to train winners over the Grand National fences and he looks set to saddle Seefood, who become the latest in a long line of horses to be revitalised by switching to his stable when winning at Musselburgh in early-November. A listed winner over fences when with Dessie Hughes, Seefood could have more to offer from a BHA mark of 134 and Daryl Jacob is an early jockey booking. That said, he has been supported from 12/1 into 8/1 on Tuesday and his new price probably looks about right.
One at more tempting odds is Jonjo O'Neill's Go Conquer, who has taken his form up a notch since switching stables and going over the larger obstacles. His first two starts as a novice were quiet enough, but he impressed with his jumping when getting off the mark over fences at the third attempt in a handicap at Wincanton in April. He built on that again on the back of a break when narrowly going down to Present Man by a neck at Ascot next time, seeing out the longer trip thoroughly and shaping very well (pair 16 lengths clear of the third). He should have more to offer with that under his belt, and his fluent jumping and prominent racing style should stand him in good stead for this sort of test. He is not a guaranteed runner, but is worth a small bet at 16/1.
Back Go Conquer at 16/1 in the Grand Sefton at Aintree on Saturday