Paul Ferguson has three selections for us from Aintree on Friday; Virgilio in the 1.40, Buveur D’Air in the 2.15 and Cocktails At Dawn in the 4.05. Compare odds and bet.
The feature on ‘Ladies Day’ at Aintree is the Melling Chase, which looks a penalty kick for the top-class Vautour. Clearly no kind of betting proposition, it will be hugely disappointing if the seven-year-old is turned over and, in fact, I expect to see something special with the track at Aintree likely to prove ideal.
Earlier on the card, the same connections will be hopeful of landing the Grade 1 Top Novices’ Hurdle with Limini who remains unbeaten, following her easy success in the inaugural running of the mares’ novices’ hurdle at Aintree.
The five-year-old could easily be the real deal, but that race didn’t really take much winning in all truth and, at this stage, Nicky Henderson’s Buveur D’Air (2:15) has the stronger form in the book. Therefore, I’m prepared to side with the latter, at the prices (available at 5-2 at the time of writing).
Third behind stable-mate Altior in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, he had earlier won a warm Newbury maiden and a small race at Huntingdon, and the softening ground conditions ought to suit. He has to concede 7lbs to Limini, but he might just be up to the task and Henderson took this race with Darlan (2012), My Tent Or Yours (2013) and Josses Hill (2014) in recent years, all of which arrived here after placing in the Supreme.
The opening handicap hurdle looks a competitive heat as you would imagine and there are a couple of interesting horses arriving here on the back of a break.
Firstly, novice Tycoon Prince looks potentially leniently handicapped based on his bumper form from last term and he looked a serious prospect when winning easily on his hurdles bow earlier in the campaign.
After disappointing in a couple of graded novice events, the six-year-old has been off the track since mid-December, hinting that all was not right, and Gordon Elliott is very much respected in races of this nature.
Marginal preference, however, is for Virgilio (1:40) who hasn’t been sighted since pulling up at Cheltenham on New Year’s Day.
At the time, the Dan Skelton horses were seriously out of form, so I’m happy to put a line through that and he won with plenty in hand the two times before that over today’s course-and-distance. Again, hopefully he will be somewhat of a forgotten horse here and, with the stable now right back to form, he is capable of going close, despite shouldering joint top-weight. Depending on the prices, it might be that you can have a saver on Tycoon Prince.
Later on the card Cocktails At Dawn (4:05) looks worth an each-way interest in the Topham, although he would have preferred good ground, which tempers enthusiasm somewhat.
Nicky Henderson has won this race for the past three years and this eight-year-old looks an ideal type, in that he is a bold jumper who likes to race prominently. He can go well and looks slightly over-priced at odds of around 20-1.
The concluding bumper looks a cracking renewal, with the first three from Cheltenham taking each other on once again. If the rain continues, I suspect Pride Of Lecale might be capable of getting much closer and could go well at likely big odds.
Paul Ferguson’s Jumpers To Follow 2015-16
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