As a renowned technophobe, this represents something of a risk for me.
I’ve written these thoughts in advance of Thursday’s card, and scheduled this to be automatically posted after racing finishes. If it works, I’ll be heralding myself as a genius, and probably even more so if Frodon, Balnaslow, Double W’s, Martello Park or a combination thereof have done the business. Fingers crossed, hey?
I should also mention, and it would be remiss of me not to do so, that I attended an excellent Aintree preview night at St George’s Hall, Liverpool, on Thursday evening in aid of Stamp Out Suicide – a cause which is close to my heart in any event and which should be wholeheartedly supported.
Compered by the irrepressible John Neild, and backed by hugely talented panel – Anthony Bromley, Willie Twiston-Davies, Carl Llewellyn, Joe Nordoff of Timeform and Luke Tarr of Star Sports – I would highly recommend attending anything these guys put on. I am also very grateful to them for letting me hand out copies of my blog at the event and hopefully we can all work together in the future too!
Now, without further ado, lets move on to Friday’s card.
There’s maybe two angles that I can see into the opening handicap hurdle, and they’re both at bigger prices, so it might be worth splitting stakes and chancing your arm in both directions. The first is Crievehill, and it wasn’t because there was any particular mention of him on Wednesday evening, but more because he’s a talented individual who is better than he showed at Cheltenham and has been eased two pounds by the handicapper. He’s worth keeping on side – he wasn’t beaten all that far by Neon Wolf at Haydock (eleven lengths) and may be better back on a flatter track.
The other, perhaps marginally preferred, selection is Clondaw Kaempfer, who is six pounds lower than when winning this race three years ago and appears in first time blinkers. A drop back in trip might seem perturbing given that he has appeared outpaced on prior starts at this trip, and was last seen over three and a quarter miles, but I surmise that a change of tactics may be on the cards and for a trainer whose family steeped in Aintree folklore, it’d be a shame to let him go un-backed.
My best bet of the day, perhaps even the week, is Kylemore Lough in the Melling.
Yes, on a literal reading of his Ascot form he has a little to find with God’s Own, but he remains unexposed and has a strike rate of better than 50% in his chase starts, and, given there’s genuine question marks about many of the remainder – Josses Hill has jumping flaws, Uxizandre is on a retrieval mission, as is Traffic Fluide and many of the others had hard races at Cheltenham, whereas Kylemore Lough has been kept fresh.
That strikes me that this race has been the plan for a little while.
He really should have won the Caspian Caviar Gold Cup off a mark of 156, and he has not been given enough credit for the way he battled back from a slithering error three out to still look the likely winner on the run to the last. There will be those who seek to argue that he didn’t stay, or that he was incompatible with the uphill finish, but to me it seemed that the issue was more one of jumping the last in a heap and sacrificing momentum to fast finishing rivals. His finishing performance was much less than he deserved. Part of the potential issue there will be short-circuited today in any event, given the much flatter track at Aintree.
Now this obviously isn’t a handicap, but to add an element of context, 156 is a pound higher than Gold Cup favourite Native River was when winning the Hennessy and Welsh National, and two pounds higher than Bristol De Mai was when winning the Peter Marsh. Those three performances caused dramatic contractions in price for both Native River and Bristol De Mai for the Gold Cup. If you accept that Kylemore Lough sacrificed more than the two and three quarter lengths that he was beaten in the Caspian Caviar, then you can probably make a solid case that he would’ve won that race. Ultimately my point, however circuitous, is that because he didn’t so much make a tangible error as he did encounter misfortune and he is, in the main, a solid jumper, so it’s not totally unreasonable to say that, without the slip, that he could/would have won a good handicap by three to five lengths. If he had would he still be 11/1 here? No, he wouldn’t. I started writing these pieces to think about things in more detail, and to look beyond what appears immediately obvious – that Caspian Caviar form is the very epitome of that. He should, talent-wise, be much, much shorter.
To me, he’s very progressive and can go way beyond the handicapping ranks. This is very firmly his level, this is his trip and this is his day to prove it.
As some final thoughts, there are some others on the card that I really like too:
- Mr Diablo, who should improve for better ground, and who was campaigned against, and performed admirably against some crack performers two years ago (Sizing John and Zabana) and who was second in a good race at Punchestown last year, appears overpriced in the Topham. The form of that race has worked out well – Domesday Book (fourth) went on to win the Kim Muir and Lord Scoundrel (fifth) went on to win a good race at Galway and has gone up eleven pounds – and by all accounts he has schooled well over national type fences at home. A lack of flashy connections will perhaps ensure a better price, a certain newspaper column permitting of course, and he is worth an interest.
- The Worlds End was travelling powerfully when coming to grief in the Albert Bartlett and can make amends in the Sefton. I’m not sure that this is a race with real depth to it – I have never been a fan of West Approach and I fear it may be difficult to settle Beyond Conceit in first time headgear over this longer trip – and while Constantine Bay is clearly a danger, I am satisfied that The Worlds End will be able to cope with him and, to an extent, right a wrong.
1.45 Clondaw Kaempfer/Crievehill – 20/1 & 33/1 – Paddy Power
3.25 Kylemore Lough – 12/1 – Hills, Ladbrokes, Paddy Power
4.05 Mr Diablo – 20/1 – Hills
4.40 The Worlds End – 9/4 – Bet365, Paddy Power
With best wishes,