Although owner Michael O’Leary of Ryanair fame will make the final decision, it does look increasingly likely that 2018 Grand National winner Tiger Roll will be given the opportunity to become the first horse since Red Rum to win the great race back-to-back at Aintree next month.
Trainer Gordon Elliot has hinted in recent days that his stable star – 5/1 favourite at BetVictor- would line up on April 6th and he has looked better than ever so far this term. Indeed, his X-Country success last week suggested he should be lining up in the Gold Cup next March. Note BetVictor are now Non Runner No Bet on the race and betting five places on the greatest horserace in the world.
The ground is described as heavy ahead of today’s card at Haydock and I’m going to take a chance on top-weight Whoshotwho (3.15) in the 2m 4f Novice Handicap Chase. The selection finished third over a trip just short of three miles in the Tommy Whittle Chase here back in December and this trip on such demanding ground should suit. I’m not convinced Scorpion Sid jumps well enough – despite winning here on his penultimate start – and a bigger danger may come from Cave Top.
In the Veterans’ Chase Oneida Tribe was no match for Ange Des Malberaux at Warwick last time but must go close for Robin Dickin. He is three years younger than the 13-y-old Buffalo Ballet (4.20) but the vote goes to the teenager who finished runner up in this corresponding race 12 months’ ago from a 5lbs higher mark.
Over at Chepstow and Big Time Frank really did appear to turn it in when hitting the front at Exeter last time and champion jockey elect Richard Johnson will have to play him as late as possible if he is to break his run of “seconditis” which currently stands at six.
Leith Hill Legacy (2.50) has a decent record at the track and is 5lbs below her last winning mark. She is a speculative each way selection at the foot of the weights. Note BetVictor are paying each way five places on the race.
Khage has been quietly progressive for Harry Whittington this season and would be giving 3lbs to Antunes (3.20) if this were a handicap but I just favour the Dan Skelton trained runner in a race that looks likely to be fought out by the previous winners. Dostal Phil franked the form of the selection’s third at Newbury last time and he will make up into a decent chaser going forward.
Mercy Mercy Me (4.00) was one of the leading British Bumper performers last season and is taken to finally get off the mark over timber at the fourth attempt. The selection has been highly tried in his last couple of starts and trainer Fergal O’Brien fits his charge with cheek-pieces after winder surgery this afternoon. Connections – and fans of the late greats Marvin Gaye and Robert Palmer – obviously feel he is better than he has shown so far over hurdles and they look to have found a good opportunity.
Inaminna (4.30) faced an impossible task trying to give over a stone to Orchardstown Cross – subsequently followed up at Newbury – at Taunton and this drop back in trip should suit Neil Mulholland’s lightly-raced chaser. He is another each way selection in a competitive looking handicap. Keep Moving ran poorly last time but had won well on his penultimate start – he remains potentially well treated.
Liosduin Bhearna (5.05) did us a favour when scoring at Ayr from a 5lbs lower mark last time and I feel he can continue to improve in the concluding 16-runner finale for which BetVictor are paying five places. Acaro is another progressive sort who is a big danger in receipt of 9lbs – including jockey’s allowance – from the selection.
In the Bumper at Market Rasen Madam Melina has the best form going into the race but I thought there was plenty of promise to be taken from the racecourse debut of Aggy With It (5.15) who gets the vote for Harry and Dan Skelton. The mare has been given plenty of time – over four months – to get over that initial experience and I hope she has learnt plenty in the interim period.
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