CHAMP CAN CAPTURE SEFTON TITLE
The pick of my rides on the second day of the Aintree Grand National meeting looks to be the Nicky Henderson-trained CHAMP in the Doom Bar Sefton Novices’ Hurdle (4.40).
It was obviously disappointing that he didn’t win the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival, but he ran a great race in defeat and did nothing wrong. He is a strong traveller, but he settled better early on there.
He steps up to three miles for the first time here, but I don’t think there is a lot of difference in terms of a stamina test between two-and-a-half miles on soft ground at Cheltenham and an extended three miles around Aintree, so it’s not a big worry for me.
Of his opposition, Dallas Des Pictons probably looks the main danger based on his second in the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival. He has already won over three miles at Leopardstown, so going back up in trip won’t be a worry for him.
Emitom is another danger, but he is taking a big step up in class and probably needs to raise his game to compete at this level.
All told, the form book suggests Champ is the one to beat and Nicky seems very sweet on him, so with a bit of luck he’ll be tough to beat.
My other Grade 1 ride on the day is on the Harry Fry-trained HELL’S KITCHEN in the JLT Melling Chase (3.25).
He has been better than ever in his last two starts, beating Janika in a handicap chase at Ascot prior to running a great race to finish fourth in the Queen Mother Champion Chase at the Cheltenham Festival. He settled better than he often has at Cheltenham and going back up in trip shouldn’t be a problem for him.
He doesn’t have Altior to contend with today and while he has a bit to find with Politologue, he’ll hopefully get in the mix.
I’ll have my first go over the big fences this week on the Peter Fahey-trained PEREGRINE RUN in the Randox Health Topham Handicap Chase (4.05).
I rode him in his prep race for this in a hurdle race at Thurles a fortnight ago. I was happy with him there and he should improve for the run.
You never know how they’ll take to these fences, but he has schooled well over them at home. Peter has been training him for this race and the better the ground, the better his chance.
My first ride of the day is on the Dermot McLoughlin-trained CANARDIER in the Merseyrail Handicap Hurdle (1.45).
I won on him at Cheltenham earlier this season and liked him that day. He ran very well to finish fifth in the Coral Cup at the Cheltenham Festival and that form must give him a good chance here. He’s another one that would probably be suited by better ground.