It looked for all the world that Run Wild Fred was going to win Monday’s Irish Grand National, but the winner Freewheelin Dylan just never stopped rolling and held on. It was a great run from our fella who still has a bright future over fences and deserves one of these.
Whilst on the subject of Nationals, it’s Aintree this week and I can’t remember the last time I didn’t make the journey over. It’s a very special place that has always been good to me. I had my first graded winner there as an amateur and obviously Tiger Roll gave me two very special days I’ll never forget.
This week will be particularly strange with no crowd in Aintree. There is usually the most unbelievable atmosphere and buzz around the place, and it will have a very different feel this time around.
I’m looking forward to recording some special Zoom Rooms for Friday and Saturday’s racing including the Grand National. They’ll be on the website later in the week. In the meantime, here are my thoughts on a cracking looking opening day which features my old friend Tiger Roll in the Betway Bowl….
AINTREE DAY ONE
1.45pm SSS Super Alloys Manifesto Novices’ Chase
Only the seven runners for the Grade One Manifesto Novices’ Chase which gets the three-day meeting under way. Hitman has a big reputation and the fact that he has been kept fresh for this is a big plus. However, he will have to be every bit as good as his connections think he is to beat the likes of Fusil Raffles and The Shunter. Both ran crackers in Cheltenham and if pushed, I’d side with The Shunter (pictured below). That was some performance in the Plate and you could call him the winner from some way out. The way he tanked his way through the race suggests he’s well worth a try in this grade and the flatter track may even bring about some improvement too.
2.20pm Doom Bar Anniversary 4-Y-O Juvenile Hurdle
Another fascinating race where we have to decide whether to side with reputation or form in the book. The Paul Nicholls team opted to sit out Cheltenham with Monmiral who they felt would be much better suited by Aintree. He’s looked pretty smart so far but will have his work cut out to beat David Pipe’s Adagio. He only found Quilixios too good in the Triumph having won the Grade One in Chepstow before that.
2.50pm Betway Bowl Chase
It’s been a fair time since Tiger Roll (pictured below) as run over park fences with all his best recent form being over the National or Cross Country obstacles. However, this will be something new for the Tiger and that may just be the key to him at this stage of his career. You couldn’t be confident that he’d love it, but at the same time there’s every chance he may just warm to the task. If he does, he showed he is in rude health the last day and he may just take some pegging back.
3.25pm Betway Aintree Hurdle
Things obviously didn’t go to plan for Abacadabras in Cheltenham where he fell early in the Champion Hurdle. I suppose the big question mark with him is the trip as the track and better ground are both in his favour. He seems in good form at home and if he does stay, he will be hard to beat. If the trip does stretch him, then McFabulous looks the obvious one.
4.05pm Rose Paterson Randox Foxhunters’ Open Hunters’ Chase
The first race of the meeting over the National fences and it’s great to see the amateurs back in action considering they missed out at Cheltenham. Patrick Mullins gets back aboard Billaway who just lost out in a bob of heads in Cheltenham. That was a hell of a run, but he will need to jump better and he looked to have had a hard race. Mighty Stowaway was a bit behind Billaway in Cheltenham and Jamie Codd will have to work his magic on him as the trip is a little on the sharp side. I prefer the chances of Sametagal who comes here fresh with Will Biddick in the saddle. He’s got some nice form over these fences and beat the Cheltenham winner Porlock Bay two starts back.
4.40pm Close Brothers Red Rum Handicap Chase
They’ll go a furious pace in this as they always do and you can make a case out for about a dozen of them. Moon Over Germany is a former winner who returns off a much higher mark, but Jordan (Gainford) takes off a valuable 7lbs. Stablemate Jan Maat is well-handicapped if returning to form and the ground will help. I’ll go for Gary Moore’s Editeur Du Gite at the foot of the weights. He was very good from the front in Newbury the last day (pictured below) and may just take some pegging back.
5.15pm Goffs UK Nickel Coin Mares’ Bumper
All eyes on the unbeaten filly Eileendover who puts her unbeaten record on the line in the Mares’ Bumper. Pam Sly opted to miss Cheltenham and her patience ought to be rewarded here. Elle Est Belle ran a hell of a race in that Champion Bumper and will give her most to think about.