Thursday 3 March – Aintree Day One

2.00 Aintree – Injured Jockeys Fund 50th Anniversary 4-Y-O Juvenile Hurdle

The market for this race looks pretty top heavy in favour of Calipto and Activial and the two, while the most likely winners, offer no real value. The former looks the one to beat after an unlucky Cheltenham run, but he did have a hard race and now backs up at a short price. Activial looks pretty short on collateral form with some in the race, too.

In winning the Adonis Juvenile Hurdle at Kempton, Activial was getting seven pounds from a horse called Solar Impulse, of Paul Nicholls’. Solar Impulse went on to run a creditable race in the Fred Winter Juvenile Hurdle at the Festival, finishing behind the likes of Hawk High and Baradari.

Solar Impulse now reopposes on seven pounds better terms, on better ground so there must be a chance of him getting closer to Activial. Trained by Harry Fry, Activial has done all his running on softer ground and I’ve detected a knee action. I also feel he may be a proper stayer and vulnerable to speedier types on faster going.

Given Solar Impulse may get closer to the second favourite, what does this suggest about Hawk High and Baradari? Second last flight faller Clarcam also comes into the mix. Hawk High you’d hope can again finish ahead of Solar Impulse despite being two pounds worse off at the weights, but is priced fairly for me.

Given the Cheltenham run, on a line through Hawk High and Solar Impulse, the most interesting horses at the prices are Baradari and Clarcam. The former looked a touch unlucky having been held up off the pace where many out the back couldn’t get involved. In fact he was last for most of it, but once hitting the hill stayed on strongly. Aintree’s fairer nature can help and he should go well. 33/1 is too big for me.

Clarcam is also of interest despite falling last time out in the Fred Winter. We don’t know what would’ve happened, but Gordon Elliot’s charge was still travelling strongly, very strongly in fact when he came down. Again, it looks as if he was going to finish ahead of Solar Impulse, our marker horse in this race, so is of interest today.

I wasn’t going to have a bet in this race, but at the prices BARADARI and CLARCAM are worth chancing.

Advice

0.5pt each-way BARADARI @33/1

0.5pt each-way CLARCAM @20/1

4.15 Aintree – Silver Cross Red Rum Handicap Chase

Seventeen runners go to post for another competitive, big-field handicap. Arnaud and Claret Cloak are sure to go well, but I have slight stamina reservations about Arnaud and Claret Cloak’s rise up the handicap won’t do his chance much good.

Both have sound chances, but take those out and this is a hugely open race. Two horses, at nice prices, that are sure to appreciate the conditions of a big field handicap are ANAY TURGE and ANQUETTA.

Anay Turge has twice been to Aintree and on both occasions has finished second. The nine-year-old clearly has no course questions to answer and given both those runs came under unsuitable race conditions (no pace on) he has run well. When getting a decent pace to run at, like he did at Cheltenham six starts back, he showed what he can do. Nigel Hawkes’ inmate also jumps well so I’m hoping he can go close today back over fences. I didn’t think he needed first time blinkers, but if they improve him he can run well.

Nicky Henderson’s Anquetta was a big eyecatcher for me at the Cheltenham Festival when running down the field in the Grand Annual. It was his first run in three months and Nicky Henderson’s inmate gave an exhibition of jumping early. He chased a strong pace set by Next Sensation and effectively raced on his own. All things considered he was entitled to get tired, which he did, but the son of Anshan ran far better than his position suggested. He loves good ground and if jumping like he did last time out, that can only be a positive.

Advice

1pt each-way ANAY TURGE @18/1 (Bet Victor, Sky Bet)

0.5pt each-way ANQUETTA @33/1 (Bet Victor, Stan James)

5.25 Aintree – Dominican Republic Handicap Hurdle

Another tough handicap to get to grips with, but two that look to be running into form are KAYLIF ARAMIS and CAROLE´S DESTRIER. Nigel Twiston-Davies’ Kaylif Aramis came down at the third last at Cheltenham when bang there in the Coral Cup. He didn’t exactly have the best path to that point either, and while it was a long way from home he was in the process of running a career best, in a good race. His recent breathing operation has clearly helped and the step-up to three miles may help him with his jumping.

Neil Mulholland’s Carole Destrier won a nice handicap hurdle last time out at Kempton and is clearly a horse in good fettle. He looks pretty progressive and the son of Kayf Tara may not have stopped just yet. He looks a chaser in the making so there is every chance this good form will continue. He jumps well and his form looks sounder and sounder the more I look at it.

Advice

1pt win KAYLIF ARAMIS @14/1 (general)

1pt win CAROLE´S DESTRIER @16/1 (Ladbrokes)

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