AUTHOR: Star Sports Content

DAVY RUSSELL: Aintree Friday

It was strange watching the opening day at Aintree on the television and to see those stands, that are usually packed, completely empty. The action was terrific as you might expect, and I particularly enjoyed watching Abacadabras winning the Grade One Aintree Hurdle.

As I said in the blog, I thought he was the one to beat if he stayed and when Jack pressed the button he found plenty.

Protektorat landed the Manifesto in grand style and kept up an unbelievable season for the Skelton brothers, while Monmiral (pictured below) looked a serious juvenile when beating Adagio.

Clan Des Obeaux ran out a really impressive winner of the Betway Bowl and obviously the combination of cheekpieces and a bit of a break helped him.

As for Tiger Roll, he seemed to be enjoying himself over the first couple of fences and then just lost interest after that.

I suppose a return to a longer trip and more unorthodox fences will help him but at least he is back in one piece.

Looking ahead to day two of the meeting and there is more great racing to look forward to…



1.45pm Pertemps Network Handicap Hurdle

My eye is drawn to Wilde About Oscar at the top of the weights as he’s a novice on the upgrade who has won over course and distance. With the Skelton brothers in such good form it’s hard to imagine him not being in the mix. He’s up 4lbs for his win in Uttoxeter the last day and may take some stopping despite being top weight. We saddle Tronador at the foot of the handicap who isn’t without a chance. If he returned to his Cheltenham form of last year, he could be competitive and he’ll like the strong pace on better ground.

2.20pm Betway Top Novices’ Hurdle

I was blown away by Dusart (pictured below) when I saw him make his debut in Newbury last November. He’s bred to be a good one and looked the real deal that day and gallops like a top class horse. He’s obviously had a problem or two and that’s why he missed Cheltenham but he could be a bit special being related to the likes of Simonsig. Third Time Lucki probably committed too soon in the County Hurdle the last day but looks up against it here against one with the potential of Dusart.

2.50pm Betway Mildmay Novices’ Chase

Obviously, Envoi Allen’s early departure in the Marsh Novices’ Chase in Cheltenham set things up for Chantry House, but he’s always threatened to be a good horse and got the job done on the big stage. Don’t forget he was third to Shishkin in a Supreme Novices’ Hurdle the year before. The obvious question mark is whether he’ll stay, but I can see no reason why he won’t. In fact, he could even improve for it and he’ll have to have regressed from Cheltenham not to win here. The Tizzard team seem to come alive at this meeting and Fiddlerontheroof may add another second to his CV.

3.25pm Marsh Chase

It looks a pretty open renewal with Joseph’s (O’Brien) Fakir D’Oudairies looking sure to be a contender having missed Fairyhouse last weekend. He’d ideally like a bit more rain though and is another with too many seconds by his name. Dashel Drasher probably wants the rain and may just be better going the other way. Politologue often runs well here and has won this in the past while Master Tommytucker arrives here fresh having missed Cheltenham. That leaves Itchy Feet (pictured below, on right) who could go well at a monster price. He didn’t stay over hurdles the last day but travelled with plenty of his old enthusiasm. If he bounced back to form, he could surprise a few.

4.05pm Randox Topham Handicap Chase

Nicky Henderson had a good record in this and I’ve a soft spot for the lightly raced Caribean Boy. He got rolling late in Cheltenham and I’m not sure we’ve seen the best of him yet. I’ve also obviously got huge respect for Livelovelaugh of Willie’s (Mullins) who ran really well for a long way in the National a few years ago. He loved these fences and it was only his stamina that gave way. His aggressive front running style will stand him in good stead in a race like this. At a much bigger price I can see Snugsborough Hall running well for Derek O’Connor. He ran a fair bit better than his finishing position suggests the last day as he was hampered at the last.

4.40pm Doom Bar Sefton Novices’ Hurdle

I guess it would be great to see Bravemansgame win and frank the Bob Olinger form. That looked like a real good race in Cheltenham and he may just be too good for these. If he isn’t to win then I can see Oscar Elite going well for the Tizzard team. He was second in the Albert Bartlett Novices’ and will appreciate the decent ground again. I’m also interested in seeing how Nicky Henderson’s Gallyhill gets on as he’s another with a bright future.

5.15pm Pinsent Masons Handicap Hurdle

A trappy handicap for amateurs and conditionals to end the card. Olly Murphy’s Copperless could still be well ahead of the handicapper but I’ll take a chance on Bold Enough for Henry De Bromhead. Hugh Morgan is great value for the 5lbs and the pair can be competitive.

Best Wishes