Aintree Hurdle: Timeform's runner-by-runner guide

Countrywide Flame can bag another Grade 1 win

Timeform examine each runner in what appears to be an ultra-competitive renewal of the Aintree Hurdle...

Countrywide Flame was a highly-creditable third in the Champion Hurdle, and can confirm form with Zarkandar over a trip which is sure to suit...

Countrywide Flame was a game winner of the Triumph Hurdle, and has improved this term, chasing home Rock On Ruby at Doncaster, and again when third to Hurricane Fly in Champion Hurdle last time. Sure to appreciate longer trip.

Grandouet won the International Hurdle at Cheltenham in 2011, and good second to Zarkandar in corresponding race on return. Still travelling sweetly when falling in Champion last time, but stamina not assured.

Oscar Whisky has won this contest for last 2 years, and was coming off a below-par effort in World Hurdle for latest success. Disappointing in that race last time, but no surprise to see him bounce back.

Prospect Wells was runner-up to Zarkandar over 2m at Wincanton on return and back to best when winning 2½m National Spirit Hurdle at Fontwell in February. That form not good enough to figure here, though.

Raya Star landed a valuable handicap at Ascot in November prior to finding Oscar Whisky then Darlan too good on next 2 starts. Latest effort best ignored (made bad mistake 3 out), and holds fair place claims.

Saphir River made a winning chase debut at Uttoxeter (2m) on first start for this yard, and wasn't disgraced when mid-field in Coral Cup at Cheltenham last month, but well out of his comfort zone here.

The New One won a Grade 2 bumper here last April, and most progressive over hurdles, showing smart turn of foot to gain fourth win of campaign in 21f Neptune Novices' at Cheltenham last time. More to come.

Thousand Stars is a versatile performer who has been runner-up to Oscar Whisky in this race for last 2 years. Has looked as good as ever this year, although needs to bounce back from a rare poor effort last time.

Zarkandar stayed on strongly when beating Grandouet in International in December, but only fourth in Champion Hurdle last month. Longer trip should be to his benefit, and blinkers tried for first time now.

Timeform 1-2-3:
1. Countrywide Flame
2. The New One
3. Oscar Whisky

Timeform View: Countrywide Flame was a highly-creditable third in the Champion Hurdle, and can confirm form with Zarkandar over a trip which is sure to suit. Oscar Whisky is preferred of the Henderson pair, but it may be The New One who proves the main danger after his impressive Neptune win.

Get open access to Timeform data for just £2.50 a day with Timeform Race Passes. It's like a Form Book, Black Book & Race Card all in one! Find Out More!

Get a Free £/€20 Exchange Bet

  • Join Now - Open your account today using promo code VAL225
  • Bet - Place a £/€20 Bet on the Exchange
  • Earn - £/€20 Back in cash if your bet loses
Bet Now

T&Cs apply.

Discover the latest articles

Read past articles