The Major has an absolute thunderbolt for Thursdays opening card of the Aintree National meeting – It could not get off to a more exciting start with 3 grades ones compromising the Liverpool Hurdle, a cracking juvenile contest before the big race of the day, the Totesport Bowl.
I want to start with the big race on day one, the Totesport Bowl. One of the Majors thoughts when approaching the National and the Punchestown Festival meets is to look for horses that avoided Cheltenham. So many arrive at Aintree over the top after a tough season and are expected to put it in again on better ground when their initial target was three weeks prior.
Thus the Totesport Bowl is a great opportunity for the Major to look to get Denman beat. Although lightly campaigned this year, which yu would expect for an eleven year old, I think it is just too much to expect the old boy to put up a winning performance against some decent opposition so soon after a hard race in the Gold Cup. Has he recovered from his exertions, it is a huge question and 11/10 simply gives you little leeway.
This is particularly pertinent when the next two in the betting did not go to Cheltenham and arrive fresher. The one the Major likes is Punchestowns. Henderson has always liked this horse and I think that it is the one that has got the opportunity to show progression. 6/1, take a slice, with Geraghty doing the business.
I am not sure the fences will suit Nacarat, 4/1 second favourite, not many of the others make great reading, Deep Purple could run a race. Punchestowns for the Major to pick up a prize I think connections have expected.
The Liverpool Hurdle, the opener sees Big Bucks a strong odds on bet and after the demolition of Grand Crus at the festival, you cannot argue on the surface pricing. Again, both of these horses had tough festivals and with Aintree just 3 weeks after their World Hurdle exertions, I would be loathed to back anything odds on. While the class is at the top of the market, so is the doubt – The same question exists. After being primed and then pushed to the limit in 3 miles around Cheltenham, who knows how well Big Bucks and Grand Crus are arriving at Aintree.
On the form book, nothing has yet looked like threatening Big Bucks unbeaten hurdles record. What a horse.
I am going to take an absolute flyer on Possol who has been missing for some time. 100/1 reflects the fact that wining this off such a break would be an insane ask but with likely conditions to be OK and a former 4l defeat to Big Bucks in the form book last year, I like the chances that 100/1 gives us to at least pinch a place. Richard Johnson, a safe pair of hands rides.
Now for the piledriver. Set your phasers to obliterate.
Zarknder is bet of the week for the Major. Evens about one of the most impressive triumph winners I have seen is a stand out price. Get stuck in, load both barrels, aim, fire. Thank me later, penalty kick.
Why am I so confident? Well everything points at this one being a star. Not only was the Triumph win so visually stunning but second that day
(and the Majors 7/1 selection) was Unaccompanied. This girl went back out on the flat, at the Curragh last week and in listed company relegated the return of St Nicholas Abbey to third, Unaccompanied is a serious horse.
This means that surely Zarkander is the real deal, Triumph winners have a terrible record in the Champion Hurdle but the Major will make an exception, I fully expect Zarkander ton be a leading Champion Hurdle contender. This means it really should go in at evens on Thursday, get stuck right in. This can pay for the week!