Aintree Race Preview, 05/12/2020

Aintree
Saturday December 5th

Aintree 2.40
William Hill Many Clouds Chase Class 1 Grade 2
3m210y – Going: Soft – Over the Mildmay Course – 5 runners

Frodon
Successful reappearance at Cheltenham in October beating West Approach, led, still travelled comfortably in front at the top of the hill after 4 out, asked for a jump 3 out and moved best after, led a length and a half home turn, going equally as well as the pursuing West Approach approaching 2 out, shaken up for the first time on landing, stayed on approaching last, about the same distance in front jumping, found extra under a hand ride, drew clear up the hill, was closed on last 150 yards but always holding on, pushed out, decisive by a length and a half; it’s safe to say the form got boosted when the 3rd Cloth Cap mullered the field in the Ladbrokes Trophy last Saturday. Noises are now being made regarding this one’s chance in the Cheltenham Gold Cup; that could be fair game further down the line, but here he’ll be taken on for the lead by Native River and the going’s softer, so not sure a follow-up will be happening
Native River*
In first-time blinkers he made all to take this race last year, safe after a mile really once Might Bite departed early and eventually beat Black Corton 33 lengths; also won Denman Chase at Newbury from Secret Investor before a setback put him out of the 2020 Cheltenham Gold Cup. Likely to take it to Frodon from the getgo, the 2018 Gold Cup winner shouldn’t be out of the first two
Santini**
After a modest reappearance when beating Now McGinty by not much at Sandown, he stepped up to take the Cotswold Chase at Cheltenham’s Festival Trials-meeting in January; he looked as though the run would bring him on beforehand, but he chased Bristol De Mai, niggled along from 15th, drew upsides 16th, mistake 4 out, the better jump and led 3 out, moved best of the field in a 3-length lead approaching home turn, pushed along once in line for home and was closed on approaching 2 out, mistake and was joined, ridden, headed narrowly approaching last, 1st 2 pulled clear, hard ridden, rallied to lead early on run-in, pulled clear up the hill, won in workmanlike but decisive style in the end. On the back of that he went for the Cheltenham Gold Cup – the drier ground looked against him but he ran above my expectations, chased Al Boum Photo 3 out at most a neck down, outpaced approaching 2 out and jumped it a length down, switched round winner between last 2, still a length and a bit to find last, nearly went into the back of Lostintranslation and switched round rival, put under strong pressure, picked up inside final 150 yards, stayed on well, closed on Al Boum Photo last 75 yards but never quite getting there – the run was all the more commendable considering the steady pace on the first circuit. Here with the going soft, there’s every chance of Santini taking Native River’s measure
Keeper Hill
Best of two runs so far this season in Charlie Hall at Wetherby on reappearance, nudged along some 8 lengths down in 6th turning out of back straight, pushed along and outpaced home turn, looked well held 4 out, kept on approaching 3 out, hard ridden and stayed on to take 4th going to 2 out, mistake there, couldn’t make ground on 1st 3 between last 2, well back last, 4th beaten 17 lengths behind Cyrname. Nowhere near that when 4th to Bristol De Mai in Betfair Chase at Haydock a fortnight ago. Lags the best of these by around 20 lbs on best form and not expected to take a hand
Lake View Lad
Ran 3rd to Beware The Bear in Ultima Handicap Chase at the 2019 Cheltenham Festival, picked up well last 175 yards, closed on 1st 2 but no extra last 100 yards, but hasn’t gone near that form since, pulled up in that year’s Grand National; best chase run last year when 3rd to Top Ville Ben in Rowland Meyrick at Wetherby, and on last start in January, reverted to hurdles and ran 3rd to The Con Man in Class 2 handicap at Kelso over an inadequate 2m4f, led, clear, moved comfortably, ridden into and in close to 4th, niggled along as others closed up, joined and headed 5th, ridden along, some 3 lengths 3rd jumping 6th (and last), hard driven and lost ground home turn, put under strong pressure passing omitted 2 out, well held disputing 3rd passing omitted last, kept on, was going on a bit finish. On very best form (going back to that 2018/19 campaign) he lags the best of these by around 10 lbs

Selection: SANTINI – Alternative: Native River

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