The racing continues at the Aintree Grand National meeting on Friday. After the thrills and spills of the opening day, there will be plenty of focus on the super talented Sprinter Sacre. Here are my selections for the big races on day two..
Topham Chase – 2m 5 1/2f National fences: 3.40 Aintree
Philip Hobbs saddles Chance du Roy who is bidding to go one better than last year after he was outstayed by Always Waining and beaten 4 ½ lengths. He fell in the Grand Sefton on his second try over the fences though. He is a couple of pounds lower in the ratings than 12 months ago. Nigel Twiston-Davies really could have a fantastic weekend and his Little Josh looks to have as good a chance as anything in this contest. He relishes these big fences having won the Grand Sefton here in December and was 7th in this last year on his first try over them.
Always Waining runs in the National rather than bidding for a fourth win in this race as connections feel he deserves his chance in the big race. He will be a fun ride round that’s for sure. Pacha du Polder has top weight for Paul Nicholls and he is in form having won the Greatwood Handicap Chase at Newbury last month beating Big Fella Thanks.
He has got his preferred better ground at last and has the size to carry a big weight providing he takes to these fences. Soll is also in the National for Jo Hughes and Mark Grant. His best form is on testing ground, but being by Presenting he shouldn’t mind this ground. Without final declarations it’s hard to make a solid selection, but Little Josh has plenty in his favour and he enjoys these fences.
Selection: Little Josh @ 12/1 with Sky Bet
Melling Chase – 2m 4f: Aintree 15:05
It’s great to see the unbeaten chaser Sprinter Sacre hasn’t scared off the decent opposition in this race, but I still think he will win despite the fact he has to prove he stays this 2m 4f trip. All his wins have come so far over 2 miles and he has only run once over this trip over hurdles when he was a bit keen, but that was in the early part of his career. He has apparently come out of Cheltenham well and I hope he continues his impressive run of wins.
His stablemate Finian’s Rainbow is the second highest rated in this field but he has been disappointing. The hope is he will re-find his form on this better ground. Flemenstar missed Cheltenham due to a lung infection, but he has bounced back quickly from that minor setback. He is unbeaten over this trip over fences and has the advantage of being a fresh horse.
Mind you Sprinter Sacre didn’t have a tough time at Cheltenham and neither did Cue Card in winning the Ryanair when beating First Lieutenant. One thing we don’t know is who will make the running and there could be a fair old battle for the lead in this, they won’t be hanging around.
Selection: Sprinter Sacre @ 1/3 with Cue Card for the forecast @ Skybet
Also on Friday, Nigel Twiston-Davies could run African Gold in the Sefton Novices’ Hurdle and if he does he should run a massive race. Twiston-Davies has also entered him in the Liverpool Hurdle on National day and wherever he runs I would fancy his chances. He was beaten by At Fishers Cross at the festival, and he is also in the novices’ race, but the ground will suit African Gold better here.
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