One of the most impressive winners from Cheltenham is running in this year’s renewal of the Aintree hurdle and he will be racing one of the biggest disappointments of the festival.
I am, of course, talking about the battle between The New One and Oscar Whisky. Oscar Whisky is going for three in a row at this race but the way he ran in the World Hurdle at Cheltenham seemed well off his best and the big gamble pre-race was not landed as Geraghty pulled him up before the finish. In this race, AP will be riding him as Geraghty saddles up on Grandouet. Oscar Whisky is a class horse and this is definitely his preferred trip but it’s hard to ignore the ride at Cheltenham and there may be something potentially wrong with him (he was declared lame the morning after). I’d look to oppose him, with this poor preparation.
Latest Odds: The New One (100/30), Zarkandar (4/1), Grandouet (9/2), Countrywide Flame (4/1), Oscar Whisky (9/2), Thousand Stars (9/1), 16/1 Bar.
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Nigel Twiston-Davies’ trained The New One is the favourite for this race. This is no surprise after the comfortable win over 2 miles and 5 furlongs (1 further than this) in the Neptune hurdle at the festival last month. He beat a very good horse in PONT ALEXANDRE so the step up from Novice Company should not be a worry. Only 3 5 year-olds have won this race In the last 25 years so this may be a slight concern against The New One and Countrywide Flame (who will be discussed later). It is encouraging that they have declared him for this race and it’s obviously a big fancy to add the novice into this Grade 1. It will be interesting to see if the decision pays off the Twiston-Davies camp.
Zarkandar is being fitted with blinkers for the first time and the noises being made by connections are very positive. Zarkandar did not run a very good race over 2 miles at Cheltenham and I wonder if he is good enough in comparison to the other horses here. The step up in trip won’t be an issue for him but I fancy something a little bit pacier to beat him on the Good (maybe Good to soft) ground that will be at Aintree on Thursday. This brings us to my idea of the winner.
Grandouet; Geraghty’s ride in this race is widely regarded as a ‘flat-track bully’. This is the perfect description for a race winner at Aintree. He is very quick and hopefully the step up in trip will allow him to ease in to the race a little more. He was travelling really well when he fell at Cheltenham and he would have had every chance of beating the irish HURRICANE FLY if he had kept going at that rate. One thing that may have gone in Grandouet’s favour after his fall will be his freshness. Zarkandar ran his heart out in a hard race as did the others in this race. Grandouet has the luxury of being a little more lightly raced and I am looking forward to seeing how he will go at Aintree. Hopefully he gets a little more luck than his only ever previous run here where he was bought down with every chance of winning.
Countrywide Flame ran a great race to finish third in the Champion Hurdle last month and looks to be a good prospect for the future. I don’t think he is quite in the same class as the others in this race but having tipped him for each way purposes last time, I can see him running into a place potentially. His flat form shows he should stay the distance but I think he will find himself outclassed here and cannot see him winning this one.
Outside of these, there isn’t much else in this race. Thousand Stars has been running over in Ireland without making much impression, although he has usually been racing against HURRICANE FLY, which is a tough ask for anyone! His form is not in the same bracket as some of the others here. Prospect Wells prefers a shorter trip and this may be too much of an ask for him. The other two, Raya Star and Saphir River should not pull any complete surprises here, and I think we should be focusing on the top of the market to find the winner!
Aintree Hurdle Betting Tips
2pts win Grandouet at 4/1 with Betfred
MAIN DANGER: The New One at 3/1
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