Manifesto Novices’ Chase (1:45 Thursday)

It’s interesting that Henry de Bromhead is the Irish trainer with the most entries at Aintree this week. Perhaps the Waterford trainer has used sound reasoning that given both Gordon Elliott and Willie Mullins suggested they would keep their big guns for Punchestown, there was opportunity elsewhere. Then again, de Bromhead has had success at Aintree down the years in any case, most notably winning the Maghull Novice Chase twice - with Special Tiara in 2013 and Sizing Granite in 2015. He could add to his Grade 1 novice chase wins at the meeting with Petit Mouchoir, in the opening race of the meeting.

Petit Mouchoir did well to finish third at Cheltenham considering how fast he went through the early stages of the race

The Gigginstown chaser got involved in a duel with Saint Calvados in the Arkle, and in so doing, played a significant part in a race that produced possibly the standout time performance of Cheltenham, with Footpad running out an impressive winner. Put simply, Petit Mouchoir went off way too fast, which set things up for the winner. That the seven-year-old was only just mugged for second by Brain Power, with his fellow pacemaker Saint Calvados completely burned out and tailed off, is testament to the type of performance the son of Al Namix put up. Ridden with more restraint Petit Mouchoir looks capable of winning a Grade 1, with no Footpad to face, as is the case on Thursday.

He is coming up in trip for this contest, which will pose a question, but there is good reason to be optimistic considering he won a point-to-point when trained by Elliott. In any case, there are also positives to coming up in trip in that he is moving into a division of two-and-a-half mile novice chasers that lacks a real star. It is also worth mentioning he has good form around the flat track of Aintree, having finished a very close second to Buveur D’Air in a Grade 1 Top Novices’ Hurdle in 2016. At around the 7/2 mark (Paddy Power) he looks a good bet.


Aintree Hurdle (3:25 Thursday) & Ryanair Stayers Hurdle (4:20 Saturday)

Supasundae looks the one in the absence of Buveur D’Air in the Aintree Hurdle on Thursday. He finished second to Penhill over three miles in the Stayers’ Hurdle at Cheltenham and he finished second to Yanworth in the Aintree equivalent race last season, yet there is the feeling out there that three miles just stretches his stamina. Given he had the speed to win the Irish Champion Hurdle over two miles and he has the stamina to be very competitive in Grade 1 company over three miles, this two-and-a-half mile trip might just be perfect. And on his form in the Irish Champion Hurdle where he beat Melon and Mick Jazz, subsequently second and third to Buveur D’Air at Cheltenham, he has to have a big chance.

She looks to have the standout form chance in a field which will be big in quantity but usually lacks depth in quality. It was no surprise to see there was money for her as soon as Paddy Power priced up the race.


Goffs Nickel Coin Mares’ Standard Open National Hunt Flat race (5:15 Thursday)

A lot of the talk after the Dublin Racing Festival was that the Grade 2 bumper won by Blackbow was the best bumper run in Ireland and Britain all season. As a result the Grade 2 mares’ bumper, run on the same weekend, seemed to go a little under the radar. That is not the case any more considering Relegate and Colreevy, first and third at Leopardstown, went on to finish first and seventh in the Champion Bumper at Cheltenham. Sandwiched between them at Leopardstown was John Queally’s Getaway Katie Mai (pictured above, in blue) who has likely been kept back for this race where she can race against her own sex. She looks to have the standout form chance in a field which will be big in quantity but usually lacks depth in quality. It was no surprise to see there was money for her as soon as Paddy Power priced up the race.


Alder Hey Children’s Charity Handicap Hurdle (1:45 Friday)

Early Doors put up a good performance to finish third in the ultra competitive Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle at Cheltenham and he may be able to go two better at Aintree on Friday. Joseph O’Brien’s five-year-old was, like a lot of runners in the Martin Pipe, inconvenienced by racing off a sedate early pace, one which allowed the winner Blow By Blow an advantage out in front. He picked up well for Mark Walsh off the turn and he stayed on well up the hill, on his first start over two and a half miles, and though he never got close enough to land a meaningful blow on the winner, his performance deserved credit.

That was just his fifth run over hurdles and he has scope to improve further now, especially up at this two-and-a-half mile trip. He has Grade 1 form in the book courtesy of his second to Mengli Khan in the Royal Bond Novice Hurdle earlier in the season and even his run before that, when he beat Meri Devie, Delta Work and Duca De Thaix in a Grade 3 at Naas reads very well now. He should run a big race again off his British mark of 145, just 3lbs higher than the mark he ran off at Cheltenham.


Grand National (5:15 Saturday)

Carlingford Lough has probably been an underrated horse all of his career so why should now, when he is a Grand National contender, be anyway different? The five-time Grade 1 winner, Galway Plate winner and once 166-rated chaser owes his connections nothing yet he might be able to give them the biggest prize of all. The last time he was rated 166 was just over a year ago, and on Saturday he could be a very well handicapped horse off a mark of 151. His form has been sketchy this season, hence the drop in rating, but there have been excuses. He ran poorly on his first two starts but he has always struggled early in the season. On his third run he ran okay when fifth behind Sizing John in the John Durkan at Punchestown and like the winner did, he struggled to deal with the short gap between that race and Christmas Chase at Leopardstown, when he was pulled up. He hasn’t ran since but it seems very likely this year has been all about the Grand National, and that he will be arriving to Aintree in peak form.

The key to him could be good ground, as although he has won good races on a heavy surface, he seems to come alive at around this time of year. His form on ground described good to yielding or better reads 1116261141P, a sequence that includes three Grade 1 wins and a fourth in Don Cossack’s Gold Cup. He is a 12-year-old and he may just be past his best days so he does require taking some sort of leap of faith. However at 66/1, it won’t cost you much to take that leap.