Pounding headache? Hoarse throat? Random outbursts of feeling, positive or negative? Flashbacks? All of the above? You must be feeling the Cheltenham Festival hangover. The week after it all started, jump racing fans are left with two choices. Wallow in pity, or pick ourselves up and move forward to the bonanza that awaits racing fans, jump or flat.
The Irish Grand National is around the corner, and the big race itself is not far away either. But if you can’t wait until then and are keen for some gambling action, there are a wide selection of casino games available online. Even if there’s no drama on the racecourse there’s plenty happening online 24 hours a day, 365 days per year. There are plenty of games available, and you’ll be sure to find one that meets your need for exciting gambling action.
When the Aintree meeting starts on 7 April you’ll need to be prepared so here’s some preview and analysis to get you started on Day 1.
Manifesto Novices’ Chase (1.40)
A race with a very short history. Each running has been won by a runner who ran at the Cheltenham Festival and the race usually has a small field. It can often be a rematch between the those who ran in the JLT Novices Chase – although the race has twice been won by Arkle runners. Speaking this week, Graham Wylie suggested that Black Hercules, a winner of the JLT, would be seen here next. A price of 7/4 – like all in this piece, taken from Paddy Power – is fair enough based on what he did, although this track would not suit him as well as Cheltenham by any stretch of the imagination and the way that L’Ami Serge went to the front suggested that he was more speed than stamina. He’d be very interesting if sent for a rematch, along with Bristol De Mai. Three Musketeers would surely be more suited by this track, but he ran on like a horse who wanted even further at the Festival and he is hard to pin down at this moment in time. Garde La Victoire and Outlander, who fell, would be interesting too although they may go to Punchestown. Of those who missed the Festival, Tea for Two comes to mind although whether connections are thinking the same remains to be seen and it’s hard to think of too many others stepping up in trip.
Anniversary Hurdle (2.15)
The record of Triumph Hurdle winners – or the best horse from the Triumph – is mixed, 1121212713 (6-4-10) – so it’s a race to be treated with caution given how tough the Triumph can be. The flat course and likely good ground will suit Triumph winner Ivanovich Gorbatov down to the ground, but I’d be cautious about taking 6/4 on him given that he could easily go to Punchestown and in any case, Zarkandar was the last horse to do the double. The Fred Winter has begun proving itself to be a useful guide to this event and if we take it on trust that fallers Campeador and Voix Du Reve would have been involved in the finish, then we have four useful juveniles who could be involved. Diego Du Charmil would be the pick of the Nicholls pair who went 1-2, on account of the fact that he travelled the best and by quite some way. However Campeador, who travelled well but was too keen on his Irish debut at Christmas behind Apple’s Jade before fading, was going at least as well as Voix Du Reve under 11-9 before crashing out. If he were to stay on his feet this time this speed test may well bring out the best in him and he has to be given a serious amount of respect. Zubayr, far too keen in the Triumph, won the Adonis in good style at Kempton and could be one to bounce back granted he gets the pace he needs.
Betfred Bowl (2.50)
Likely to be a question of ‘how far’ for Cue Card backers with the first two from the Gold Cup going to Punchestown. The form figures for the highest placed horse from Cheltenham here are P312FF5241 (2-3-10) and 6 of these 10 were sent off favourite. It’s dependent upon who turns up as to whether Cue Card can be taken on. Don Poli was outpaced in the Cheltenham Gold Cup and Smad Place was forced to go too fast. Irish Cavalier isn’t good enough and neither is Wakanda or O’Faolains Boy. The entries are likely to tell all, in showing us who is able to challenge the favourite.
Aintree Hurdle (3.25)
It is likely that Annie Power will come here, and if that is the case, then she should be too good for this field following a romp in the Champion Hurdle. This is her trip – and probably her track too, and a light season only helps her chances of not bouncing. The recent records of the highest placed finisher from the Champion Hurdle are: F2320173511, so backers probably have little to worry about. Nichols Canyon ran a fine race at Cheltenham, and won the Mersey Novices’ here last year in fine style, but it is hard to imagine him reversing the form. More interesting might be The New One, who has been crying out for this trip for a good while and could be seen to much better effect. A close second in the Aintree Hurdle behind Zarkandar in 2012, this is long overdue for him and he could be an each/way shout. Different Gravey, a sensational winner of a good handicap hurdle on his return (when tipped up as a JPFestival.com Saturday Steamer), could be the fly in the ointment, especially having missed the Festival.
Victoria Pendleton took the headlines with a fast finishing fifth on Pacha Du Polder at Cheltenham but whereas his stamina was a doubt for Cheltenham, it most definitely isn’t here. He was well beaten by On The Fringe when the two met here last year but the gap looked to have closed notable between the two when they met at Cheltenham and under different tactics he can easily reverse that form back under Will Biddick. On The Fringe has to be respected in his bid to retain his title, and he was back to his best at Cheltenham to hold off a multitude of challengers in the Foxhunters. He was even more impressive here last year, but he had very little in hand at the end of the Cheltenham race and looks very short at 6/4 to confirm superiority of less than three lengths over five horses. Marito, if taking to these fences, is a sound each/way bet at 8/1, whilst Paint The Clouds was also making ground hand over fist.
Red Rum Handicap Chase (4.40)
The Grand Annual provided the only real turnup of the week with Solar Impulse winning and the record of the winner trying to follow up here is respectable, along with those placed. Raw speed and front running tends to be the name of the game here, and Arzal does those better than most. His form from earlier in the season with Ar Mad and others looks better after the Arkle, and with a mark of 149 he Is fairly treated. Novices have taken four recent runnings of this, and the record of those highly rated is not too bad. Most winners had run within the last 35 days – 9 of the last 10 have – so look within that age range, and those with returning course form. Half of the last 10 winners had ran at the previous Aintree Festival.
Aintree Handicap Hurdle (5.15)
Five of the last 6 winners ran in March and many step up from the Coral Cup – like Tagliatelle last year – or the Pertemps, which gave the second and fourth last year. Tagietelle could go again, having finished fourth in the Pertemps this year when If In Doubt suffered a rough passage through the race and will most likely be very popular if sent here. Several from the Pertemps could make the step up plus it’s worth looking through the qualifiers, notably the ones that take place at Doncaster on SkyBet Chase day (won by Nicky Henderson’s Sugar Baron) and also Exeter on the day of their Listed Novice Hurdle (won this year by Unowhatimeanharry). If running, Sugar Baron would be of considerable interest.