Politologue and Min top 16 contenders for Melling prize

Duo dominated Grade One finish last year

  • Saturday 30 March
  • News
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Last year’s one-two Politologue and Min could do battle once more in the JLT Chase at Aintree on Friday.

The Paul Nicholls-trained Politologue got the better of Willie Mullins’ Min by a neck in last year’s renewal of the two-and-a-half-mile Grade One, which is better know as the Melling, and a rematch could be on the cards after both horses featured among 16 entries.

Nicholls has also entered Cyrname, who earned a lofty rating of 178 after his 17-length romp in February’s Ascot Chase.

However, the Ditcheat handler revealed on Friday he is likely to wait for the Celebration Chase at Sandown – setting up a potentially mouth-watering clash with Nicky Henderson’s Altior on the final day of the season.

After deciding against sending Altior to Merseyside, Henderson’s potential runners are Top Notch and Janika – with the latter still in the Topham Chase on the same afternoon.

Min is one of four Irish entries along with Pat Fahy’s Castlegrace Paddy, Noel Meade’s Road To Respect and Jessica Harrington’s Woodland Opera.

Warren Greatrex’s brilliant mare La Bague Au Roi and Topofthegame, winner of the RSA Chase for the Nicholls team stand out among 13 entries for the Betway Mildmay Novices’ Chase.

Greatrex’s runner beat Topofthegame at Kempton at Christmas and the trainer is favouring a rematch rather than taking up her alternative entry in Thursday’s Manifesto Novices’ Chase over two and a half miles.

He said: “We have been really pleased with La Bague Au Roi since her win over in Ireland.

“Her win at Kempton obviously took another boost given how the RSA worked out.

“She is in great form and will probably do some more work and another school before Aintree.

“With the weather forecast as it is, the Mildmay Novices’ Chase is our preference.”

Band Of Outlaws could bid to follow up his success in the Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle at Cheltenham.

Joseph O’Brien’s four-year-old is one of 18 entries for the Betway Top Novices’ Hurdle along with stablemate Fakir D’Oudairies, who was fourth in the Supreme.

Among the home contingent are four from the Henderson stable – Epatante, Mister Fisher, Precious Cargo and Style De Vole – and Dovecote scorer Southfield Stone from the Nicholls yard.

The Henderson-trained Champ, runner-up in the Ballymore at Cheltenham, may try to gain handsome compensation in the Doom Bar Sefton Novices’ Hurdle.

Janika, ante-post favourite and top weight, heads 45 horses standing their ground for the Randox Health Topham Handicap Chase.

Ultragold, winner for the past two years, has been confirmed although he is expected to run in the Grand National this time.

Other interesting possibles include Cadmium, Mercian Prince, Flying Angel, Warriors Tale and Call It Magic.

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