Paul Ferguson has three selections at Aintree; Darlan (14.00), Silviniaco Conti (14.30) and Fingal Bay (16.15). Compare odds and bet
Having been forced to miss the Cheltenham Festival through injury, it is great to see Fingal Bay (4:15) back in action in this afternoon’s Grade 1 John Smith’s Sefton Novices’ Hurdle and Philip Hobbs’s six-year-old is fancied to maintain his 100% record.
Four from four so far this season, the pick of his form came on his penultimate start when beating subsequent Neptune Investment winner Simonsig at Sandown in December.
He arrives here a fresh horse having not run since New Year’s Eve and, if Hobbs has him back to that early season form, he’ll be tough to beat. Having been winning on stiffer tracks than this, Aintree’s sharper course is the only concern, but the step up to 3m will bring his stamina into play and I don’t expect it to bother him.
The battle between Paul Nicholls and Nicky Henderson for the trainers’ championship continues and the pair go head-to-head in the opener with little between Darlan and Prospect Wells on Supreme Novices’ form.
However, the track promises to bring about further improvement in Darlan (2:00) who finished runner-up in the Festival opener and he’s fancied to get one on the board for Henderson and AP McCoy in this Grade 2 Top Novices’ Hurdle.
The five-year-old impressed when winning easily at Kempton and Taunton earlier in the campaign and will be well suited by the test of speed that will be served up here.
Nicholls can strike back in the very next race with Silviniaco Conti (2:30) who is fancied to land the Grade 2 John Smith’s Mildmay Novices’ Chase for the first time for the stable since the mighty Big Buck’s took the prize back in 2008.
The six-year-old arrives here fresh having missed the Cheltenham Festival with this race in mind, though he does need to bounce back from a disappointing run in the Reynoldstown Novices’ Chase at Ascot in February.
Earlier in the season he was very impressive in getting off the mark over fences in the Rising Stars at Wincanton, after which he split Grands Crus and RSA winner Bobs Worth in the Feltham at Kempton on Boxing Day.
A reproduction of that form ought to be good enough here and he looks to have Champion Court to beat. Martin Keighley’s charge ran a cracker and lost little in defeat to Sir Des Champs in the Jewson at Cheltenham, but he may be better over slightly shorter than this and the track looks like it could play to the strengths of the athletic Silviniaco Conti.
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Last Year’s Tips Included 40 Leading Prospects: £499.80 profit to a level £10!
- AL FEROF won Supreme Novices’ Hurdle 10-1
- BENSALEM won Stewart Family Handicap 5-1
- BOBS WORTH won A Bartlett 15-8, 4/4 for year
- CAPTAIN CHRIS won Arkle Trophy 6-1
- FIRST LIEUTENANT won Neptune Investment 7-1
- (plus Grade 1 in Ireland 16-1)
- JAMES DE VASSY won Lanzarote Hurdle 8-1
- LONG RUN won King George 9-2, Gold Cup 7-2
- OSCAR WHISKY won Aintree Hurdle 6-1
- Peddlers Cross (Fighting Fifth Hurdle)
- Medermit (Scilly Isles Novices’ Chase)
- FINIAN’S RAINBOW (Maghull Novices’ Chase)
- WISHFULL THINKING (Manifesto Novices’ Chase)