Aintree Race Preview, 07/11/2020

Saturday November 7th

On the Hurdles course, a cross hurdle will be in place before the home turn, and there’ll be two hurdles in the home straight.

Aintree 1.35
Pertemps Network Handicap Hurdle Series Qualifier Class 2
3m149y – Going: Good to Soft – 13 runners

Advancing years started to get the better of this one-time top class hurdler last season, and his reappearance was the only time he didn’t finish within 10 lengths of the winner; on last two starts, was 5th to Welsh Saint in Pertemps Qualifier at Haydock back in February ( outpaced under a ride 3 out, looked well held 2 out, lost further ground on 1st 2 before and after last, made late ground and took 5th post) and was a tailed-off 16th to Sire Du Berlais in the Final at Cheltenham, started to lose place after 10th, prominent to midfield when in close to 2 out, struggling to hold place when driven home turn, no more and weakened approaching last, some 18 to 20 lengths behind jumping, continued to lose ground up the hill. Little expected
For the first time since March 2019, was beaten less than 10 lengths when 4th to Jacamar over 2m4f at Aintree on reappearance, although he was off the bit a long way out; hard ridden with 8 or 9 in front home turn, kept on going to 2 out, stayed on well between last 2 and every chance though not going as well as a couple of others approaching last, kept on for 4th and was closing on the 3rd final strides. To an extent going through the motions, he has near-enough race-long flat spots nowadays and one such flat spot meant he was in a poor position at the third last there. Back in the day he barely stayed 1m2f on the Flat and, for all that he was doing good late work last time, he’s likely to fail to stay the 3m here
Best effort last season when winning over 3m at Haydock on heavy, niggled along in midfield approaching 7th, made up lost ground and prominent again next, niggled along turning out of back straight, effort under a ride from home turn and chased leader approaching 3 out, led there, pushed along, 1st 2 pulled clear, upsides last, driven out, stayed on well run-in to beat Big Shark. Was well beaten behind Silver Sheen in a Pertemps Qualifier at Warwick in January on what turned out to be his last start of the season. He’s run well fresh in each of the last two seasons; soft or heavy ground is important, and the bad news for connections is there’s no rain in the forecast on Friday/Saturday, so looks likely to be too dry
Portrush Ted*
On first start for 519 days, winning reappearance at Ayr last January, led 2nd, ridden into 3rd, in close to 6th, headed and chased leader after, led again 8th, nudged along after 4 out, headed home turn, travelled better and readily led again approaching 3 out, pushed along, stayed on and drew clear going to 2 out, some 6 lengths up there, still pushed along going to last, hard driven early on run-in, was closed on, stayed on well last 150 yards to maintain not-so-clear lead, workmanlike and decisive from Grand Morning. Was bettering that form when falling in Pertemps Qualifier at Haydock in February, disputed lead turning out of back straight, pushed along off home turn as pace increased, led approaching 3 out, hung left, put under pressure, was joined jumping 2 out, driven, headed, wandered approaching last, appeared to just be getting the worst of it when fell. Having just been headed, would probably have been beaten around 3 lengths behind Welsh Saint; hasn’t run since. Unexposed, effective fresh, and good chance
Eight And Bob
Hasn’t been over hurdles since December; best to date over obstacles when winning at Gowran Park in October 2019, midfield on inner, closer order and rear of leading group 9th, not fluent 11th, moved comfortably as switched off inner before blundered 3 out, good ground and chased leader home turn, pushed along, disputed lead 2 out, hard ridden, stayed on, narrow lead last, 1st 2 clear, found more under pressure last 150 yards to beat Bothar Dubh a neck. No subsequent hurdles form, at Haydock last November lost place back straight, tailed off 9th and put under pressure, made no ground, left alone home turn, trailed in behind Stoney Mountain. Has been busy on the Flat over the Summer, five runs – the first two of those at the Galway Festival, including his solitary win – and last time was up in grade when 4th at Gowran Park, also blinkered; driven 4f out, ridden and faded 3f out, well held home turn, kept on under pressure 2f out, closed on leaders final 300 yards, went right towards far side (inside) rail, stayed on late and was closing on the 4th last strides, beaten 4 lengths behind Politicise. No headgear here back over hurdles; that he ran poorly on sole run at a British track to date is a worry, but his best gives him a squeak
Golan Fortune*
Best effort in 2019/20 when winning at Cheltenham in November, niggled along away from 7th, headway and prominent going to 8th, led going comfortably going down the hill to 2 out, sent clear, hard ridden from home turn, in close to last, hard driven, wandered right (right-hand whip) across Eminent Poet’s path and was closed on by runner-up, ridden out and stayed on well last 150 yards. That was over 3m and he was down in trip when 12th to Dame De Compagnie in the Coral Cup at the Festival, no impression home turn, kept on a little under a hand ride approaching last, sustained effort up the hill and nearly took 11th place post. Good reappearance, staying over 2m5f, at Cheltenham last month behind Captain Tom Cat, usual cheekpieces missing; pushed along after 7th, a lot to do in rear when mistake 3 out and hard ridden, not much ground by 2 out, had most in front under a ride home turn, began to stay on approaching last, passed several before and after it, stayed on under pressure last 150 yards, no more last 100 yards but nearest finish. Didn’t appear to be going anywhere for most of the last circuit and needs this longer trip; cheekpieces back on too (has worn them for all his wins)
On second run for new connections, finished 14th in Coral Cup at the Cheltenham Festival, held up, ridden into 7th and pushed along away from it, last pair at the top of the hill, at most nudged along approaching 3 out, niggled along away from it, a bit to do in midfield to rear when blundered 2 out and was slightly hampered, hard ridden, turned for home in 17th some 15 lengths down, put under pressure, stayed on approaching last, no extra when not fluent there, weakened up the hill, looked heavy-legged passing post, beaten 15 lengths; had earlier been well beaten in Pertemps Qualifier at Haydock in February. Well treated on old form but might be best watched until showing more for new connections
Impulsive Star
After winning the Classic Chase at Warwick in 2019, had a season go wrong last term with pulled-ups on both starts, to add to the pair he finished 2018/19 with; at Cheltenham in December mistake 10th, ridden into 15th, mistake 16th, pushed along, ridden when jumped slow 18th, lost place quickly, tailed off 3 out, pulled up before next, and in the latest renewal of the Classic Chase beaten a long way out behind Kimberlite Candy. His owner Robert Waley-Cohen has taken him out of Neil Mulholland’s yard and now trains this one himself – he’s owned many winners of course, but hasn’t trained one since February 2015
Ready And Able
Course and distance winner in October 2018, jumped last a neck down, bumped runner-up, hard ridden, hung left, stayed on a furlong out, continued to hang left and leaned on runner-up, drew clear last 125 yards. Best run last season in a novices’ handicap chase (had three chase starts) at Newbury in December, held up rear mostly, a bit to do home turn and not shaken up, started to close, pushed along and stayed on going to 2 out, hard driven and hung left approaching last, 3 lengths to find, hard driven, one pace run-in, stuck to task, closed on winner last 50 yards but lost 2nd to Court Master final strides. Comeback run at Market Rasen on August 16th and didn’t go well, vigorously pushed along after 1st, pushed along and struggling in last after 10th, not fluent 13th and lugged left in detached last, tailed off from 14th, trailed in last of six finishers to Potterman. Not sure what to expect, but he’d be competitive at his best (yet to run out of the first four when completing over hurdles in races over 2m4f or more)
Fair novice hurdler in 2019 when winning the Grade 2 River Don at Doncaster, chased leader,  reminder after 8th, 1st 2 drew clear approaching home turn, took the stands’ side rail and stayed on approaching 3 out, clear over it, pushed along and maintained clear lead when knocked down 2 out, hard driven between last 2, drew further clear approaching last, kept up to his work throughout run-in, unchallenged from Truckers Lodge; best other run in the 3m handicap hurdle at Aintree on the 2019 Grand National undercard, vigorously pushed along after 7th, lost ground and prominent to midfield 8th, headway approaching 9th and prominent though niggled along, hard ridden home turn, every chance 3 out though far from going best, hard driven, wandered and hung approaching 2 out, weakened under a ride between last 2 and 9th beaten 19 lengths behind Aux Ptits Soins. Hasn’t run since – a break of 581 days – but it wouldn’t be the first time his trainer Ben Pauling has won with a horse coming back after so long off the track
Mr Scrumpy*
Largely progressive hurdler posted two wins last season and got his first victory of the current campaign on reappearance at Wetherby last month, in the process proving himself over 3m;  led 3rd, in close to 6th, not fluent 9th, travelled best home turn, niggled along and soon more firmly pushed passsing omitted 3 out, stayed on from 2 out (actually the last), asserted and pulled a length and a half clear passing omitted last, driven out, was closed on but stayed on well last 100 yards, genuine effort to beat Shantou Vow half a length. Only up 3 lbs for that, has earned this step up in grade and can be competitive
Yes No Maybe So
Won four on the bounce over the Summer, but was all out and perhaps a bit lucky to complete the four-timer at Fontwell in September, mistake 5th, niggled along approaching 10th, hard ridden and switched wide after it, reminder, stayed on and disputed 5 to 6 lengths 4th jumping 3 out, sustained effort and movd into 2nd turning out of back straight, 1st 2 pulled clear approaching 2 out, hard ridden and a length down jumping, staying on when the worse jump last, hard driven, upsides till left in narrow lead when runner-up drifted left, all out from Premier D’troice. Found wanting in a better race at Uttoxeter last time, hard ridden turning out of back straight, picked up under a ride after 3 out, put under pressure and switched outer approaching 2 out, hard driven and no more approaching last, passed beaten ones and took well-held 3rd jumping, kept on – looked a hard ride on his way to finishing 3rd to Sirobbie (fifth course win, and ran well behind Honest Vic at Cheltenham since) and West To The Bridge (ready winner at Carlisle last Sunday). Drying ground will help and he might pick up the pieces, but it’s hard to see him challenging for the win
Chapel Stile
Posted a hattrick over hurdles in 2017/18, and won over fences at Carlisle last December beating Cloudy Glen – not that many of them were jumped as all fences in the straight were omitted that time, and having not been going anywhere nearly as well as Cloudy Glen on the home turn, he made up 6 lengths from passing the omitted second last to get up by a neck. Not out since pulling up in Towton Novices’ at Wetherby last January behind Newtide. Can go well fresh and is of some interest coming back after a break, but he’s a hard ride, so don’t expect to see him do something until after the third last

Shortlist: Portrush Ted, Golan Fortune, Mr Scrumpy

Aintree 2.10
Follow @WillHillRacing On Twitter Handicap Chase Class 2 0-150
2m3f200y – Going: Good to Soft
Over the Mildmay Course – 9 runners

Bennys King
On second run last season, up with the pace throughout to win Sir Peter O’Sullevan Memorial at Newbury last November,  led 5 out, niggled along home turn, soon more firmly pushed, staying on when mistake 4 out, sustained effort and drew 3 lengths clear 3 out, about the same in front 2 out, hard driven approaching last, kept up the gallop, driven out run-in, pulled clear of Sametegal run-in; didn’t stay 3m in Rowland Meyrick at Wetherby next time but was back to form over 2m5f at Ascot when collared late in the day by Domaine De L’Isle. Stiff mark but might go well; pace angle
Delire D’Estruval
Espoir De Teillee
Only had the two chases – well-made chasing type on looks – and made an instant impact when winning on his debut over fences at Ludlow in December, last pair from 2nd, not fluent 5th, went left 6th, headway 7th, tracked leaders 9th, chased leader 13th, disputed lead home turn, went a bit wide on the bend, left in clear lead 4 out, pushed along 2 out, stayed on well enough though idling approaching last and on run-in, pushed out from Cotswold Way; perhaps regressed when well beaten behind Southfield Stone at Musselburgh in February, several errors, niggled along from early on the last circuit and, going worse than the winner coming off the home turn, fighting a losing battle from the third last. Has a good record fresh and might be able to do something despite a steep 142-mark
Springtown Lake*
Needed a couple of runs to find his form last season then won a Class 2 handicap chase at Warwick in February, tracked leaders, not fluent 2nd, allowed them to break clear from 5th, ridden into 7th, made ground and tracked leaders again going to 8th, moved comfortably, ridden into 12th, made ground to chase leader 5 out, travelled much the best when ridden into 4 out, effort delayed upsides leader, pushed along a length down home turn, effort and led/mistake 2 out, hard ridden , stayed on well to draw clear, 4 lengths up last, left further clear, ridden out to beat The Bay Birch 20 lengths. Took his chance in the Stable Plate at the Cheltenham Festival and ran okay to a point, mistakes, lost place and midfield to rear approaching home turn, pushed along, kept on before 2 out though looked held, was hampered there, pushed along and made no ground before last, pushed again throughout run-in, stuck to task, no impression behind Simply The Betts. Can be competitive
Missed last season; most recent win when beating Duke Of Navan at Cheltenham in October 2018, every chance nearing 3 out, soon niggled along, ready headway round field going more comfortably than most to chase leader home turn, led 2 out, pushed along, stayed on, was challenged last, driven and headed 150 yards out, hard driven, rallied last 100 yards, led 75 yards out, just got there. Hasn’t raced since finishing 6th to Borice in the Galway Plate in July 2019, prominent to midfield, not fluent 5th, lost place and midfield/pushed along 10th, hard ridden 3 out, closed a little approaching last 2 fences, looked held when hard driven home turn, passed beaten rivals to take 6th last 100 yards, nearly got 5th post. Clearly not suited by the rough and tumble of the Galway showpiece, he ended up running to his mark in the end – with fewer rivals here, he’s likely to run well
Mind’s Eye
Last Goodbye
Last won a race when taking Leopardstown Handicap Chase in February 2018,  ridden and struggling 3 out, stayed on going to 2 out and closed on those ahead, hard driven after, closed on leaders approaching home turn, sustained efforrt widest of all and chased leader last, 1st 2 pulled clear, hard driven, stayed on strongly to lead, pulled away from Vieux Morvan last 150 yards. Best effort in 2019/20 3rd to A Toi Phil at Listowel in September 2019, chased leader most of the way, mistake 11th, niggled along, ridden and wandered a fraction 3 out, hard driven turning out of back straight, hard driven and carried head to one side approaching 2 out, faded between last 2, well held 3rd last; when last seen tailed off in the latest running of the Leopardstown Chase back in February, held up, raced wide, niggled along 6th, more firmly pushed along 8th, struggling when blundered 10th, detached last 11th, tailed off 3 out, trailed in behind Glamorgan Duke. Now joined Sam England, who’s only trained one stable debut-winner in her career; the nowadays usual tongue-strap and blinkers are left off
Royal Village
Useful on his day but no wins since August 2019. Has seemed best in the Summer but posted three double-digit defeats since the resumption, the best of which was at Bangor last month behind Manofthemountain, niggled along before mistake 10th, not fluent 11th and niggled again, ridden along from 13th, made ground and in contention in leading group 4 out, bumped rival 3 out, hard ridden in close 3rd home turn, ridden and faded from 2 out, only 4th and looking heavy-legged when not fluent last, 6th beaten 15 lengths. Withdrawn from the Doncaster Sales earlier this month, there must have been some private deal as he’s changed trainer and owners – he’s now with Micky Hammond; he’s well treated but wouldn’t want the ground softer, and as already implied it’s not his time of year
Cool Mix*
Has come back in form this season and won a competitive renewal of the Bobby Renton at Wetherby last month, midfield, raced outer 1st 3 fences, on middle/inner by 8th, ridden into and mistake 10th, closer order when ridden into 12th, turned out of back straight in 6 lengths 6th, moved comfortably (back on outer) approaching 4 out, jumped it in 4th and pushed along, within 2 lengths 3 out, continued to stay on and challenged approaching 2 out, led there, found extra and drew 3 lengths clear when hit last, was closed on, picked up again last 150 yards under pressure, stayed on well to pull clear of Sky Pirate. Needs to improve again but can’t be ruled out
Dashing Perk
Won at Sandown last December, then bettered that form in January, pressed on in front from 8th, moved comfortably 12th, in close to 4 out, pushed along and headed approaching 3 out, rallied and led again, pushed along home turn, ridden into 2 out, hard ridden, stayed on approaching last, was challenged on all sides, headed last, hard ridden and one pace last 175 yards, stuck to task though was closed on last 75 yards, 2nd to Mercy Mercy Me; was pulled up in Grade 3 handicap won by Mister Malarky at Kempton in February on last start. Likely to set the pace, he goes well fresh and looks likely to run well
Hasn’t won since May 2018. After a period in the doldrums, came back to form at Fontwell last time on October 2nd, although with a not-totally-satisfactory performance; tracked leaders after 7th, moved comfortably approaching 3 out, chased leader and pushed along approaching 2 out, a neck down jumping, ridden and wandered a little approaching last, steadied into it, came away from it in 3rd, hard driven, bumped 2nd bend 150 yards out, faded, no more close home, race won by Imperial Presence. I’m not used to that of late, Drumcliff running close, but the finishing effort was disappointing, with runner-up Aintree My Dream jumping the last much worse than Drumcliff did, and somehow getting 2nd off him. I’d like to see him dropped in (and there’s a stack of pace in this race, with Bennys King, Springtown Lake and Dashing Perk likely pace-setters)

Shortlist: Springtown Lake, Cool Mix

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