Without the incredible Big Buck’s, another staying hurdle has been vastly opened up. The Liverpool hurdle, like the World Hurdle at Cheltenham, is run over just more than 3 miles and the winner is going to be a dour stayer who can truly stay the trip.
At the time of writing there are no prices available as yet so we will go through the race and its runners. Quickly looking over the stats, we see that we want a horse that has won last time out or, at worst, finished second. These stats are skewed by the aforementioned BIG BUCK’S who won this race 4 times in a row.
All of the top three in the World Hurdle come to Aintree this year so this already becomes an exciting prospect. We have Solwhit who came under a typical Paul Carberry ride when winning from behind and catching the leaders when jumping the last. Staying the trip at Cheltenham should mean he can stay quite comfortably over this Aintree track.
He beat Celestial Halo that day and maybe, if his last jump would’ve been better then there would have been a different result. However, he did make this mistake and we cannot simply ignore it. Once the pressure came, a mistake was made and maybe this could repeat itself.
Following these two home was Smad Place who was never really in the picture that day. He has come second to REVE DE SIVOLA (who was well fancied for the world hurdle at Cheltenham) but that was in bottomless ground and that will certainly not be what we encounter at Aintree. Unfortunately, he doesn’t seem like the winner of this race to me, although I could see him running into a place as he usually does – his last 4 Grade 1s have seen form figures of 3, UR, 2, 3.
African Gold was impressive at Cheltenham when following AT FISHER’s CROSS home. I cannot see him winning this race, however, as a novice. He steps up to an open Grade 1 and may find the difference too much to cope with. It will be interesting to see how he goes on Good ground over this trip and one that many will be keeping their eye on. I think this race is too soon for him to have any significant impact on.
Holywell won the Pertemps at the festival and that stopped his run of 4 successive second places. The races he has been running in haven’t been of the greatest quality and I don’t think he has the class required to beat some of the other horses here on show. He may spring a surprise, however.
Medinas was the big priced winner of the Coral Cup at Cheltenham and will be looking to repeat success here. I don’t think this will happen for similar reasons to Holywell. The races he has been running have been below this standard and I just don’t think they’re in the same boat, with regards to quality.
Grands Crus is the second highest rated horse in this race, to Solwhit. He hasn’t run over the smaller obstacles since this race two years ago where he followed BIG BUCK’S home. If he runs anywhere near that form, he will be a contender for sure. I’m happy to oppose him having not got much form recently. His last very good run was boxing day in 2011.
Attaglance is, quite simply, not in the class of the others here. There are far too many question marks, not least the fact he hasn’t even run over the extended trip.
Bear’s Affair is another who hasn’t ran the trip, yet. He had a pretty good record in Class 2 races but in his first try in Class 1 company (a listed race at Kempton); he came up short. He eventually finished quite a distance back from another of this field – Oscara Dara. This form won’t be reversed and he shouldn’t feature here.
Oscara Dara did not stay the trip at Cheltenham. It will be interesting to see how his second run over this distance will go. He’s not my idea of the winner, here.
Any Given Day will be an outsider in this race, and rightly so. There is not much form to go on and like Grands Crus, I think his best form in behind him.
We don’t know very much about Won In The Dark as he has been running over 2 miles and 2 and half in Ireland. His rating of 138 is poles apart from the top rated horses here, he won’t be an issue.
Finally and similarly, American Spin is rated 137 and ran in the same Pertemps race that Holywell won. He finished 36L behind him though. This trend may continue and I doubt we will see much.
So…after all that, what is going to happen?! I think Solwhit’s win is the best form to go on and that will have to do. Be careful with this race and good luck may be required!
2pts Solwhit win with Betfred
MAIN DANGER(S): Smad Place, Holywell.