There’s a really competitive card at Cheltenham on Saturday and that’s backed up with a cracking card at Aintree on Sunday. The racing is really getting going in England now and it’s all systems go here.
Cheltenham on Saturday
I’m not overly taken with the juveniles from last season. The general consensus was that they weren’t the best bunch, so I’m looking to take on Allmankind for that reason. Yes, he’s a Grade 1 winner, but he just didn’t seem to beat an awful lot.
Anna Bunina has been in great form of late, winning two of her last three starts. She gets lumps of weight from her rivals so I think she will go very well under Richard Johnson and could get placed in the 14:05.
I don’t think it’ll be too long until Johnson is back in the winner’s enclosure, either. He rides a horse called Pileon , who is making his debut over fences in the Novices’ Chase (14:40).
He was staying on up the hill in the Martin Pipe at the Festival and was only just beaten by the shortest of margins. There are holes in the other horses’ form so, providing he jumps well, I think he’ll go very nicely.
One thing we all love about National Hunt racing is the fact we get to see the same horses for years and years.
Cogry is one who keeps turning up – he must be a real joy to own.
He loves this race (15:50) – he’s won and been placed twice in the last three years. Getting lumps of weight from Frodon, I think he’ll go close again this year. They seem to train him for this race and his yard are flying, too.
Aintree on Sunday
The Old Roan Chase (13:57) is a proper race as ever – I love it. It’s been won by some cracking horses over the years.
It’s fair to say that Itchy Feet set the standard on his win in the Grade 1 Betway Scilly Isles Chase at Sandown earlier this year, but it’s a long old season and I wonder if they’re working backwards from the Ryanair Chase.
With that in mind, I think this race will be Midnight Shadow’s ‘Gold Cup’ – he’ll have been trained for this.
He won a Grade 2 Novice Chase at Cheltenham on New Year’s Day and then was second to Itchy Feet at Sandown. There isn’t a great deal between them but, as this race is a handicap, he gets 5lb from his main rival, which I think will make the difference.
Galway on Sunday
Carrigeen Lotus won with her head in her chest at Cork, beating a Willie Mullins horse that they didn’t think would lose, so it tells you she must be smart.
She then backed that up with a very good third in the Grade 2 Mares’ Bumper at Leopardstown. She’s a very smart horse and no doubt will have been schooled very well by the Lalors.
I can’t see her getting beaten if she jumps well on her debut over hurdles (12:40).
Diol Ker won a maiden hurdle in his last race, beating a horse called Monkfish who went on to win the Albert Bartlett at the Cheltenham Festival, so the form is there for all to see.
He was a super jumper of a hurdle so it’s no surprise they’ve gone over fences sooner than later. He should take all of the beating in the 13:15, especially with Noel Meade’s horses going so well.
I wasn’t taken by Beacon Edge on the last day of the Festival, despite the fact he was way odds-on.
He just didn’t blow me away as I was expecting him too, so I’ve gone against him with the mare Minella Melody in the 15:00.
She racked up a sequence of wins last season, including some over smart mares like Colreevy. She’s a smart horse on her day and getting the weight allowance could be the difference under Rachel Blackmore.
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