Friday 4 March – Aintree Day Two

2.00 Aintree – International Festival For Business 2014 Top Novices´ Hurdle

The market suggests Josses Hill is simply not for beating and while he holds strong claims his price now looks pretty short. Sgt Reckless is over three times Josses Hill’s odds, after finishing a length-and-a-half behind him at Cheltenham and I’d much rather back Mick Channon’s runner each-way than the favourite at 6/4 odd.

It took me a while to get my head around Sgt Reckless’ Cheltenham run, but I have now come to the conclusion a poor starting position along with the track not suiting played major roles in his eyecatching run. Back on a flat track and once more on good ground he is the value in taking on the favourite.

One at a nice price I like, however, that offers even better value is the Irish challenger THE GAME CHANGER. A Gigginstown horse in the care of Charlie Swan, he is only five-years-old and so a bit on the weak side. Even so, he’s a nice horse and this faster ground will suit him much better than what he has been running on in Ireland. The Game Changer travels strongly in his races so I can see him out running his price of 25/1.

That said, I can’t see him beating Josses Hill or Sgt Reckless, but bet365’s alternative market with the above two out has lured me in. Take out the leading pair out and we have an extremely open race. With this the case I’m going to suggest backing him in this market as it offers better value and a better chance of scoring than backing Sgt Reckless in the straight market.

Advice

1.5pts each-way THE GAME CHANGER @9/1 without Josses Hill & Sgt Reckless (bet365)

3.05 Aintree – Betfred Melling Chase

Probably the worst Melling Chase running I’ve seen meaning a shock result wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest. All those to the fore in the market have questions to answer.

Ballynagour has to prove he is as good in backing up shortly after a career best. He’s a horse that has bleed in the past and doesn’t strike me as reliable even though he has a touch of class.

Rajdhani Express, although not having the same publicised troubles as Ballynagour I too have doubts about him backing up in this grade. Having won at Cheltenham last year, he went to Ayr five weeks later and was a hugely fortunate winner. Now running two weeks earlier, in Grade One company we wonder will he be as good?

The two horses I like are MODULE and at a bigger price RATHLIN. Starting with the former he now looks a big price at 6/1 given he is a young, improving horse. His running style suggests this trip should be perfect for him as all season he has been staying on over slightly shorter trips. He jumps well and Aintree should suit him, as it’s pretty similar to Newbury where he has twice run. A small worry is him backing up, but he is the more solid of those to the fore in the market.

Sixteen to one about Rathlin looks pretty fair too. I thought Mouse Morris’ charge would go close at Cheltenham in the Ryanair given his early season form with Hidden Cyclone looked extremely solid. It still looks worthy given how well the aforementioned ran in the Ryanair.

Rathlin had beaten Hidden Cyclone by six lengths at Galway last year, but the former didn’t fire at Cheltenham. Mouse Morris said he needed the run and given he was bang there at the bottom of the hill, he is entitled to get much closer to race favourite, Rajdhani Express.

Even with this in mind, Rathlin’s effort looks worthy of marking up, too. He travelled wider than most at Cheltenham, with no cover and gave away significantly more ground than Rajdhani Express. It was encouraging he jumped well and now striping fitter can hopefully run a bigger race.

The ground will suit, as should the course and even the slight drop in trip will help. He and Module I like so hopefully they can run well.

Advice

1pt win MODULE @6/1 (general)

1pt win RATHLIN @16/1 (Bet Victor, Stan James)

3.40 Aintree – Crabbie´s Supporting Everton In The Community Topham Chase

Thirty runners go to post over the National fences in the Topham Chase so luck in running will be at a premium. Our shortlist consisted of Tatenen, Giorgio Quercus, Lost Legend and Dunowen Point.

Tatenen we have slight reservations about his jumping here, even though he remains in good form. Andrew Thornton gets a great tune out of him, but his style of riding may not be best suited to these fences. Giorgio Quercus is sure to run well as he has got great experience on this course and distance. We have slight worries about the trip meaning we’ll side with the reaming two, LOST LEGEND and DUNOWEN POINT.

Lost Legend has no experience over these fences, but jumps well in the main and comes here in good form. He can be a touch keen so the pace of this race should help him settle.

Dunowen Point ran an absolute cracker to finish fourth in this race last season, having been up with the pace throughout. He now runs off an eight pounds lower mark and is also 12 pounds lower in the weights. Jason Maguire, his usual partner is injured, and that, for me, is a negative, but hopefully Brain Harding can get a tune out of him.

Advice

1pt win LOST LEGEND @16/1 (general)

1pt win DUNOWEN POINT @16/1 (general)

4.50 Aintree – Alder Hey Children´s Charity Handicap Hurdle

The final suggested bet of the day will come in this 22 runner handicap hurdle. I’m willingly to take on a number of the favourites here. Caid Du Berlais is still a touch weak and may not be able to run two hard races back to back. Stonebrook now encounters ground vastly different to what he has been winning on. Ataglance is in good form, but now reverts to hurdles off a higher chase mark and that doesn’t look ideal.

Those that made the shortlist include Zabana, Cheltenian and two at big prices, Party Rock and Mister Hotelier. This is a race the Irish have a decent record in and the Irish pair of Zabana and Mister Hotelier deserve respect especially the former.

The pair clashed at the end of January at Leopardstown where Zabana ran out a good winner of a race that seems to be holding its form. The winner travelled and jumped nicely and won like a horse really going places. Connections felt him better for a break and he has now come back a stronger horse. He’s entitled to strip fitter given that was his first run seven months and there is a chance he is ahead of the handicapper.

Although beaten 19 lengths this day Mister Hotelier did catch my eye. In a year where his trainer Colm Murphy has struggled, this seven-year-old ran an encouraging race giving his trainer something to be optimistic about. He travelled just as well as anything and blew up in the straight; probably a sign that he needed the run, given his stable had struggled with a virus.

It was encouraging to see him win next time out next time out in a god race. Plenty came into it inform and the there were some nice horses behind. With his stable now back in form and he himself running well, Mister Hotelier running well I’m sure he can outrun his price of 33/1 under an inform jockey.

Cheltenian I like too and this step up in trip will show him in a better light if settling. The ground may also count against him as he has plenty of good form on softer and don’t rule out a big run from Party Rock on a track he likes.

We’ll side with the Irish dup of ZABANA and MISTER HOTELIER, though.

Advice

2pts each-way ZABANA @8/1 (Bet Victor, William Hill)

1pt each-way MISTER HOTELIER @33/1 (Stan James)

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