Good evening one and all from a quickly cooling Worcestershire where the sun dipping below the horizon was the starting gun for the Earths heat to seep into sky, unchecked by any cloud cover.
Forgive me for missing a major day of racing today but I have spent the last two days camping. Should anyone invite you to camp, distrust them, disassociate yourself from them.
Camping is uncivilised. Especially in spring. Mud is everywhere, your indoor quarters are cramped and hard to keep uncontaminated. Insects and wildlife which some might elucidate as being part of natures wondrous tapestry, I say are mere irritants. Then there is the cold. Once it has sealed into your bones, it is hard to shift, lest you trek across muddy fields to find a weak dribble of warm water from showers that remind you of schooldays.
There is a camaraderie amongst those light-hearted fools in these fields. Greetings are aired, willingness to exchange goods and ideas; there is a geeky set and a serious set. To be fair, you are hard pressed to resist their friendliness. There are other compensations too, the fresh air brings weariness and I enjoyed some of the best sleep for some time.
Anyway, Thursday at Aintree went down without the need for any of my preamble. Silvi was truly excellent, some might call him a flat track bully but he really deserved that win to show his class. It is not his fault he is not a Gold Cup horse.
Arctic Fire was catastrophe and many saw parallels with Annie Power; he certainly as travelling better than Jezki to my eye but with AP in opposition, it was not necessarily in the bag. Anyway, awful luck for Ruby (and that is all, bad luck.
On the Fringe was magnificent, as was the pilot, Nina. What an effortless, bloodless win, so unusual for the National fences.
Anyway, here are some Friday thoughts. It is a minefield for betting purposes. Weeks ago, many of the main play-actors were engaged in full bloody battle at Cheltenham. Some can take that racing well, others will be feeling the effects. The conditions here are very different, the sun on their backs, the temperature higher, the undulations gone but tight corners that not all like. As well as over the top horses, we have unconsidered sorts who were put away for Aintree, set to play a hand.
Friday Aintree Tips
The opener is one tricky puzzle. I do like two of the Henderson horses, Snake Eyes and Theinval both who should relish better ground. Henderson is absolutely flying at the minute and I would not be surprised to see that form translate into some big race wins at this end of the season.
However, I am minded to take an outsiders chance on 33/1 play Party Rock. The horse has been respectable, no better, n worse but this will have been the plan all along.
I was having a good look at two at prices in the second too. Commissioned the John Ferguson second string will be all end a different horse in these conditions and is dangerous to dismiss. I also like Cyrus Darius under Brian Hughes who along with Noel Fehily is a jockey I often bang on about. Note, both had winners on day one. Again Cyrus will enjoy the good ground.
Anyway, I have to side with the favourite Glingerburn. He has form tied in with Bristol de Mai which reads well, especially as the latter shaped fantastically well today. There is a touch of 2/1 about (Corals), have a slice.
Saphir du Rheu should bolt up in the Mildmay after chasing home Cole Harden in a World Hurdle at Cheltenham. Yet, I dislike horses with dual campaigns and over these fences there will be no prisoners when errors are made. That must lead to a value shot elsewhere.
I am back out in the fancy prices and one that needs some recovery in Close Touch, the Queens horse, stabled with Nicky. Thing is, it has always looked pretty high-class but has flopped now a couple of times. On the first occasion, it was excusable, meeting very bad interference may have put pay to his chance, last time less reason. Anyway, as already mentioned, the Seven Barrows team are firing in winners and if back to somewhere near his best, with the added bonus of being fresh, I can see reason to back at 18/1 (William Hill).
If Cue Card is to show us best again, then the Melling conditions look well set for him to do so. I am not convinced. Sire de Grugy appears again after flopping somewhat in the Champion Chase, he takes his racing well and if back to the Chepstow sparkle, maybe he will be the answer? I prefer the Irish challengers and am torn between Champagne Fever and Don Cossack. I think the latter is the better horse but the former skipped Cheltenham and therefore arrives fresher, that is enough to settle it for me.
The Topham is a right puzzle but I like two who showed better hands in the Cheltenham handicaps. Monetary and Bless The Wings. The tentative nod goes to the latter who was overly delayed at Cheltenham by Nina but gets, I would imagine, a more assertive ride in this and may well be doing on when others have pulled stumps.
Jonjo has not has a very good season all things considered butI am thinking that that Minella Rocco might go well in the Sefton Novices. We only have bloodless victories to go on but in a season where many leading lights have been dim, this novice has done everything asked with no fuss. 7/2.
Good luck in the bumper, my shot is with Brain Power, 8/1.
Courage, roll the dice.