Solid chance will relish two-and-a-half mile trip
13:45 - Hitman
He's a proper young chaser who was still travelling strongly when he came down in the Grade 1 Scilly Isles at Sandown and then enjoyed a nice, confidence boosting victory at Newbury early in March. As he's only just five and lacks experience we decided to by-pass Cheltenham and wait for this race over a trip of two-and-a-half miles which is ideal. Solid chance.
Leading chance has long had Aintree in his sights
14:20 - Monmiral
He's a good example of my belief that everything in the season shouldn't revolve around Cheltenham. We don't buy and train horses just for the Festival. We don't have to take horses there, we were not tempted by the Triumph Hurdle and it was always the plan that Monmiral would head instead to Aintree after he won impressively on both starts for us. The form of his latest success at Haydock has been well and truly franked by the second and the third. While he has only ever raced on soft ground I feel that good to soft on Thursday will be fine for him. Leading chance.
In good shape and in with a chance if cheek pieces do the trick
14:50 - Clan Des Obeaux
He ran very well last time at Newbury when just failing to give 6lbs to Secret Investor who picked up an injury and may not run again until Christmas. We felt after Newbury that fitting cheek pieces might help Clan's concentration and they seemed to sharpen him up when he worked in them on Saturday. He's in good shape, and if the cheek pieces do the trick then he has an obvious chance.
Refreshed and on road to recovery
14:50 - Reel Steel
He hasn't been the easiest to train but was showing something last time when he travelled well in the King George on Boxing Day until stopping quickly turning into the straight. It transpired he had bled so this is a bit of a recovery mission but we've freshened him up and are hoping for better from him.
Should relish the ground and go well
15:25 - McFabulous
Things didn't go his way at Fontwell last time where the track was a bit tight for him and he was caught in a pocket at a crucial time. He was also giving 6lbs to the winner who is very good on his day. McFabulous will be much happier round a galloping track like Aintree and will relish the drying ground. Hopefully he will go very well.
Pair looked primed to go well
16:05 - Cat Tiger & Sametegal
This has always been the target for Cat Tiger and the good news is that his owner David Maxwell can partner him now that amateurs are allowed to ride again. They shared a big victory in a valuable Listed Chase at Auteuil in November 2018 when this horse was only four and more recently he qualified for this race when he won comfortably at Leicester ridden by Harry Cobden just over a month ago.
Sametegal hasn't been the easiest to place in handicaps and it was great to see him win for the first time in five years when he just beat Porlock Bay in a Hunter Chase in a tight finish at Wincanton. That form is rock solid with the runner up then landing the Hunter Chase at the Cheltenham Festival. Sametegal was then second at Fontwell when I had to turn him out again much quicker than ideal because it was the last chance for him to qualify for Aintree. So you can safely ignore that run. He has been round these fences several times in the past which has to be an advantage and with record breaking point to point champion Will Biddick in the saddle he should go very well.
Chance to come good on Aintree ground
16:40 - Getaway Trump
I've kept him fresh for this since he won impressively last time at Doncaster by six-and-a-half lengths from Duke of Navan. I think it was probably a soft race but he was the one able to take advantage which was good to see because he can be a bit in and out. The handicapper didn't miss Getaway Trump after that but two miles on good ground is just what he wants and granted a fast run race he should give a decent account of himself. It's encouraging that he always comes good at this this time of year.
Could follow up winning debut with another success
13:25 - Tulin
He won impressively on his debut for us at this track on soft ground three weeks ago in a first time tongue tie. He will enjoy the better ground there this time and should go close again.
Should be bang in there
14:00 - Chez Hans
He is always knocking on the door and has been runner up at this track on his last two starts. He was beaten only length by Copperless over two miles last time and was staying on at the finish. So with Angus Cheleda taking off a valuable 7lbs in this novice handicap he should be bang there again stepping up three furlongs.
Hard to place but could run well
15:40 - Calva d'Auge
I've been thinking of stepping him up in distance for a while and he gets his chance here over three miles. He's quite hard to place having won back to back races at the end of last year. Angus won on him at Newbury and his claim is an obvious help. It wouldn't surprise me to see him run well.
Promising horse aiming to get off the mark
17:30 - Kandoo Kid
He has run two really solid races on deep winter ground and has been crying out for decent going which he gets now. He's a lovely prospect who can hopefully get off the mark on his last start in a bumper before he goes hurdling.
Paul's Best Chance on Thursday: Aintree, 14:20 - Monmiral
"He's looked very smart in winning both his starts for us and we rate him highly."