The highlight of day two from Aintree is without doubt the clash between Sprinter Sacre, Cue Card and Flemenstar in the Melling Chase. The former was imperious in winning the Queen Mother Champion Chase, but ventures in to unknown territory in terms of distance today and takes on two specialists over this distance.
Clearly Nicky Henderson’s superstar will win if he gets home, but there will be no hanging around and, if there is one horse in training who can serve it up to him, for me it would be Flemenstar (3:05) over this sort of trip.
The Irish raider failed to get home in the Lexus and Irish Hennessy and will relish the drop back in trip. He arrives here fresh having been forced to miss the Festival and, assuming he travelled over well (reportedly connections were worried about bringing him over to England last season), he looks set to run a big race.
Most of his form is on heavy ground, but he won the Powers Gold Cup over this trip on good ground last season and I don’t think the conditions will be an issue. Trading at 7/1 with a few firms this morning, he looks worth backing each-way despite only six going to post. Alternatively, if you don’t want to take Sprinter Sacre on fully, the selection can be backed without the favourite at 13/8 with Bet365.
Henderson should already have one on the board by the time big race comes round, with My Tent Or Yours (2:00) looking a cut above his four rivals in the opening Top Novices’ Hurdle.
The Supreme Novices’ second will relish this easier track and better ground and, if you don’t mind taking odds-on, he looked a fair price at 1/2 with Stan James last night; I’d expected him to be a similar price to Sprinter Sacre.
The Mildmay Novices’ Chase mainly revolves around whether or not Dynaste can bounce back to the form that saw him rattle up a hat-trick in the first half of the season. If he does, he will win, but he’s never won after the turn of a year during any season and it was a little disappointing that he failed to win the Jewson from the position he found himself in coming down the hill.
Rocky Creek has been aimed at this all year by Paul Nicholls, but I’m not sure that good ground around Aintree will prove enough of a stamina test for him, so I’m taking a chance on Sea Of Thunder (2:30) who is available at 11/1 with Hills this morning.
With only six going to post, it’s not really an each-way race and he has a bit to find on official ratings, but he relishes genuinely good ground or quicker and he arrives here a lot fresher than most having been off since November.
A winner at Clonmel in late September on his chasing debut, he missed Festival handicap engagements as the ground was still deemed too soft and Charles Byrnes’ eight-year-old looks worth taking a small chance on.
2:00 Aintree: My Tent Or Yours (1/2 Stan James)
2:30 Aintree: Sea Of Thunder (11/1 Hills)
3:05 Aintree: Flemenstar (each-way 7/1 Bet365, Bet Victor, Paddy Power) & Flemenstar (without Sprinter Sacre 13/8 Bet365)
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Last Year’s Book Results – Leading Prospects:
- SPRINTER SACRE – Unbeaten – winner at Aintree & Cheltenham
- SIMONSIG – Winner at Aintree & Cheltenham
- CINDERS AND ASHES – 10/1 winner of Supreme Novices Hurdle
- BOBS WORTH – 9/2 winner of the RSA Chase
- MENORAH & SILVINIACO CONTI – Both Aintree Winners
- SIR DES CHAMPS – Unbeaten inc 3/1 Jewson Cheltenham Winner
- FINGAL BAY – Won 4 times inc Challow Hurdle
- RAYA STAR – 10/3 winner at Wetherby, 12/1 Ladbroke Hurdle winner, 15/2 Scottish Champion Hurdle winner
- AMBION WOOD – 14/1 EBF Final Sandown winner
- CHAMPION COURT – 6/1 G2 Dipper Novices Chase winner
- PALACE JESTER – 14/1 winner at FFos Las
- SWINCOMBE FLAME – Hat-trick winner inc Lanzarote Hurdle at 9/2
- TEAFOR THREE – 5/1 NH Cheltenham Chase winner (Manifesto Novices’ Chase)