Full race preview and free betting tips for the 2.30pm Betfred Bowl at Aintree.
The Aintree Festival opens with some fantastic racing on Thursday, the highlight of which (over jumps at least) is the Grade 1 Betfred Bowl – a race run over 3m 1f on the Mildmay Course. Six runners line up for this year’s renewal in the hope of claiming a share of the £150,000 thats on offer. Here are my thoughts and best bet for the contest.
Last year’s renewal saw First Lieutenant (10/3 BetVictor) beat the reposing pair of Menorah and Silviniaco Conti. The winner, trained by Mouse Morris, was taken out of the Cheltenham Gold Cup but arrives here well and fresh with his trainer confident that ‘he’s back to himself and in grand old form’. After last year’s success he went on to finish just over a length behind Sir Des Champs at the Punchestown Festival. He has shown impressive form this season as well, finishing runner-up to Bobs Worth in the Irish Hennessy. He is an exceptionally consistent horse (finishing in the first three home in 14 of his 15 starts) but tends to find one too good. Despite winning this contest last year, he is sure to face stiffer opposition here and he will have to improve on the form he has shown so far this season. One huge advantage for the horse is that he arrives here fresh without the having to have endured the toils of the Cheltenham Festival. If some of the other principles suffer the effects of their Festival runs, he could well be the horse to prosper once again.
Last year’s third place finisher, and highest rated on official ratings in the field, is the Paul Nicholls’ trained Silviniaco Conti (5/2 William Hill). This impressive winner of the King George looked destined to claim the Gold Cup crown coming over the second last, only to swerve under pressure up the hill and get collared late on. Whether or not he stayed the Gold Cup trip is debatable but a return to more of a speed track and a drop back down to 3m 1f will certainly be an advantage. I do have my doubts with this horse however – last year he put in a below par effort in the Bowl after suffering a fall (when travelling with ease) in the Gold Cup. My concern is that he looked to have had a hard race at Cheltenham, one which could well have left its mark. On the basis that there is a chance he could well repeat last year’s lacklustre performance I think he is best watched.
Of those horses who claimed victory at Cheltenham; DYNASTE (15/8 Stan James) won the Ryanair Chase in good fashion, sitting out the back of the pack moving clear of his rivals in the home straight. He looked to be doing all his best work at the finish, staying on strongly up the hill, something which has prompted the Pipe team to step him back up in trip after he put in a disappointing performance in the King George. He was found to have hurt his back following that race but returned to Cheltenham in fine form. Arguably his best piece of form this season came in the Betfair Chase at Haydock where he finished just over 4 lengths behind a race fit Cue Card. Added to the good performances he’s put in this season so far, he has fantastic form as a novice at Aintree – winning last year’s MildMay Chase emphatically by 6 lengths. If he returns to Aintree in good heart he looks to have a great chance.
The remainder of the field is made up of Menorah (12/1 Ladbrokes), Argocat (20/1 bet365) and Houblon Des Obeaux (33/1 BetVictor). The latter two have yet to show form good enough to challenge for major honours here, and on their ratings will have to improve a huge amount to trouble the principles. Menorah on the other hand, is an interesting runner in as much as he has a good record at Aintree. In three starts he has won once and finished second on the other two occasions. If a return to Aintree rekindles this horses’ love for the game (has had a very disappointing season to date) he could well sneak into a place once again.
As is the norm, the key question that surrounds any race at the Aintree Festival is how will the Cheltenham form work out? Will the Festival leave its mark on runners or will they replicate (or even better) their efforts? In terms of the Betfred Bowl, there are three leading contenders, two of which took their chances at Cheltenham and one who didn’t. For me, I am confident that DYNASTE can not only repeat the form that saw him claim victory in the Ryanair, but he may well improve for the return to Aintree and the step back up in trip. His biggest rival looks to be First Lieutenant who arrives here fresh and reportedly well, but he seems to lack the quality of a true multiple Grade 1 winner and he could well find himself fighting for the placings once again. Dynaste is a horse who still has a lot of potential and given the recent form of the stable, should arrive here firing on all cylinders.
DYNASTE (WIN) (15/8 Stan James)
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