14:20 Top Novices’ Hurdle
The Tizzard/Potts/Power combination had a tremendous Aintree in 2017, and did my wallet no favours when hitting the mark with Finian’s Oscar on Thursday (how DID that manage to win?), but I’m not a big fan of Vision des Flos here. It’s true that he shaped quite well in the Ballymore at Cheltenham, but the pair who finished immediately in front of him ran poorly at Fairyhouse, and that takes the gloss of the form. He’d been impressive in winning at Exeter prior to that, proving this trip in heavy ground suits, but that form also has a flimsy look, with the runner-up failing to fire and the time moderate.
The main reason to oppose him, though, is that there is a very solid favourite in the shape of Dovecote winner Global Citizen, who is fresh after bypassing Cheltenham, and the likes of Scarlet Dragon, Mind’s Eye, stablemate Slate House and notably Scarlet Dragon are all capable of showing improved form granted conditions.
Irish Roe is also underestimated, and in a race with a lot of depth, Vision des Flos looks much too short at around 6.0.
14:50 Mildmay Novices’ Chase
I was tempted by the prospect of opposing Terrefort at this trip, but while stamina is something he must prove, he is undoubtedly the most talented runner here, and he’s done nothing at all wrong since joining his current yard, proving the only horse capable of throwing down a challenge to Shattered Love in the JLT, and that form was franked by Finian’s Oscar (why does his name keep cropping up?!) on the opening day.
Having looked again, I think it would be a lot safer to take on Mia’s Storm for a place, as I think her rating is inflated by the style of her win over second-division mares at Market Rasen in the autumn.
Her jumping let her down when she was pitched into the Kauto Star at Kempton, making a serious mistake at the fence before she fell, and she hasn’t been seen since. It could be argued that she is fresher than her opponents, but it is a big negative in my eyes for a mare to be running at this level straight after a heavy fall.
It’s questionable whether she wants really soft ground as well, and she looks very vulnerable as a result. She started favourite at Kempton, and was travelling well enough before the first of her blunders, so I hope that means she will again garner support, as it’s crucial in the laying game not to have to chase prices.
15:25 Melling Chase
I think the market has got the front of this contest wrong, and Balko des Flos’s win in the Ryanair a more impressive performance than Min’s second in the Champion Chase, and Min looks a decent lay at 2.5 or thereabouts.
Min needed no excuse for an excellent run, but he was absolutely swept aside by Altior up the hill, and he does not look as if he will improve one iota for the step up in trip.
Balko des Flos proved that notions that he was a good-ground horse were misplaced in the Ryanair, and he looks rock solid. Politologue would have won at this meeting a year ago but for stumbling and unseating his rider on the run-in, and he can take advantage if anything should befall our main hope.
- 14:20 Lay Vision des Flos @ 6.0 or shorter
- 14:50 Lay Mia’s Storm for a place @ 2.6 or shorter
- 15:25 Lay Min @ 2.5 or shorter