Paul Ferguson has three selections from Aintree on Thursday; Calipto at 2.00, Claret Cloak at 4.15 and Busty Brown at 5.25 Compare odds and bet.
Aintree’s Grand National meeting gets underway with a bang on Thursday, with my local track staging no fewer than four Grade 1s.
The opening Anniversary 4-Y-O Juvenile Hurdle is the first of the quartet and Calipto (2:00) is fancied to reverse Triumph Hurdle form with third-placed Guitar Pete.
Paul Nicholls’ runner was still travelling powerfully when the stirrup leather snapped and the fact he was able to finish under 9 lengths behind Tiger Roll speaks volumes for the horse’s natural ability.
He proved that day he can handle decent ground and the track shouldn’t be too much of an inconvenience. He looks to have old advisory Activial to beat and, though Harry Fry’s charge arrives here fresh, Calipto can confirm their Newbury form. The first selection of the meeting was trading at 7/2 with several firms last night.
The Grand National fences are tackled for the first time this week in the Crabbie’s Supporting The Hillsborough Families Fox Hunters’ Chase, in which Mossey Joe should be really difficult to peg back, assuming he takes to the unique obstacles.
The 11-year-old looks potentially a class apart in this grade and has already beaten second-favourite Warne a long way, at Killarney last May. He has possibly improved again since then, winning emphatically at Stratford, but he was trading around 6/4 on Wednesday evening and that is tight enough for any horse here. If he were to ease to around 2/1 (there has to be a chance layers will want to take a horse on at those odds on this track) he would be worth considering as a bet.
The Silver Cross Red Rum Handicap Chase is a contest that is often dominated by novices and it could be the case again today, with Claret Cloak (4:15) fancied to make amends for his penultimate fence blunder in the Grand Annual last month.
Emma Lavelle’s imposing seven-year-old was travelling really strongly when getting that fence all-wrong, before keeping on for third. Earlier in the season the son of Vinnie Roe bolted up on debut at Towcester, before leading the Henry VIII field a merry dance for a long way.
Given a break over the winter, due to the fact he cannot handle deep ground, he does go best fresh, which is a slight concern as he returns after just 20 days here, but he did win in mid April after running at Cheltenham last year and that is the only slight negative.
The Mildmay track should really play to his strengths and, with the ground likely to be in his favour (hopefully there won’t be any further overnight rain), he can strike for Noel Fehily. Claret Cloak was readily available at 4/1 last night.
The concluding 3m handicap hurdle looks a wide-open affair, in which a case could be made for a large number of the field. Two Rockers is a horse I have long been a big fan of, but the ground is unlikely to be soft enough for him here, while Seefood moved with some purpose in the Pertemps Final at Cheltenham and this easier track should suit; he did run well here last year, too.
He could easily outrun his odds of 20/1, but he was beaten by Busty Brown (5:25) as a novice and Noel Meade’s eight-year-old made a really pleasing return from injury over an inadequate trip last month.
The Mr Combustible gelding was returning from the best part of 15 months off, having finished runner-up to Pont Alexandre in a Grade 1 when last sighted. The step up in trip could bring about plenty of improvement and, assuming he doesn’t ‘bounce’, he looks capable of a bold showing under Paul Carberry.
Available at 9/1 with Bet365 and Ladbrokes last night, he is one to back each-way, given the competitiveness of the race.
Paul Ferguson’s Jumpers To Follow 2013-14
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New for 2013-14:
Grade 1 winning jockeys Nick Scholfield and Jane Mangan provide readers with their horses to follow
Last years results included:
* Leading Prospects, Arvika Ligeonniere (x3), Boston Bob, Captain Conan (x3), Champagne Fever (x2 inc Supreme Novices’ Hurdle), Glens Melody, Melodic Rendezvous, Simonsig (Arkle) & Un Atout won 13 Grade 1 novice contests between them
* My Tent Or Yours won 4 times including the Betfair Hurdle and the Top Novices’ at Aintree
* Stable Round-Up included Neptune winner The New One, Scottish Champion Hurdle winner Court Minstrel and David Pipe’s Dynaste of whom it read “could follow the Grands Crus path of last year, starting in the Steel Plate And Sections before he is readied for the Feltham” – he won both races and also scored at Aintree in April
* Across The Sea – Mount Benbulben 14/1 winner of the Grade 1 novice chase at the Punchestown Festival
* Under The Hammer – horses featured in this section included Champion Bumper winner Briar Hill (25/1) and The Liquidator, who won the equivalent Grade 1 at Punchestown – this section has been greatly increased for 2013-14