Paul Ferguson has two selections for us on Thursday; Sizing John 1.40 and Apple’s Jade 2.15 both at Aintree. Compare odds and bet.
The Grand National meeting gets underway with a really strong renewal of the Grade 1 Manifesto Novices’ Chase, in which a case can be made for almost all of the eight runners.
Arzal is the only horse in the line up to have skipped the Cheltenham Festival and he is likely to go well for Harry Whittington, while L’Ami Serge returned to form when finishing a fine third in the JLT last time.
While Nicky Henderson’s runner might well find it easier to last home around here, I would personally have considered dropping him back in trip for Saturday’s Maghull Novices’ Chase and preference is for Sizing John (1:40) who looks ready for the step up in trip.
Henry De Bromhead’s imposing six-year-old got tapped for speed when Douvan poured it on in the Arkle, but he kept on in taking fashion and his connections will be delighted that Willie Mullins star isn’t in the line-up here, having finished behind him on no fewer than five occasions.
The son of Midnight Legend likes to bowl along from the front, so ought to be well suited by the Mildmay course. The fact that Arzal will also try and lead is a slight concern, but Sizing John is fancied to score at the top level for the first time over fences. The selection was trading at 3-1 overnight.
The second race on the card, the Betfred Anniversary 4-Y-O Juvenile Hurdle, should also go the way of the Irish, with the Triumph Hurdle 1-2-3 once again taking each other on.
Triumph winner Ivanovich Gorbatov is a short price to follow up, but Apple’s Jade (2:15) only has a length-and-a-quarter to find and ought to appreciate both the easier track and the easier ground.
A heavy ground Grade 2 winner on debut for Willie Mullins, the Saddler Maker filly travelled supremely well in the Triumph and might be capable of turning the form around, with conditions to suit. Given that she can be backed at 4-1, she looks a bet to nothing each-way, especially with several firms paying ¼ odds, and I doubt there will be much between the pair again here.
Later on the card I thoroughly expect Annie Power to supplement her Champion Hurdle success in the Aintree Hurdle, but she is priced up accordingly. On The Fringe looks a shade on the short side to win back-to-back Fox Hunters’ while the concluding bumper looks as strong a mares’ event as I can remember seeing for some time.
I have had this race in mind for La Bague Au Roi for some time, as has Warren Greatrex who has not made any secret of the regard in which he holds her, but she looks tight enough given that some of the stable’s fancied runners have seemingly failed to run up to form of late and this looks a high-class field.
Champion Bumper seventh Augusta Kate actually has the strongest form on offer for me, so I’m not surprised the early 4-1 dried up. Another that really impressed me when making a winning rules debut is former point-to-point winner Shattered Love who should be considered of those at bigger odds. This is a race to watch very closely with the future in mind.
1:40 Aintree Sizing John 3/1 Bet365
2:15 Aintree Apple’s Jade 4/1 Stan James
Paul Ferguson’s Jumpers To Follow 2015-16
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