The first day of Aintree’s Grand National meeting showed just how important it is to be up with the pace in the chases, as Nacarat, Baby Run, Silk Drum and Wishful Thinking were never far from the front before going on to victory.
Today’s feature handicap, and the big betting race of the day, is the John Smith’s Topham Chase, in which the 30 runners will privide a great spectacle over the Grand National fences.
Selecting a horse for the extended 2m 5f contest with form figures of F3U-P1U may appear optimistic to say the least, but in Frankie Figg we have a horse that simply relishes the demands of those daunting fences, and barring accidents is sure to give his supporters a tremendous run for their money.
Brian Hughes’s mount was in the lead when falling at Bechers in the 2009 Topham, and was a close second when unseating his rider two from home in last years’ contest.
The nine year-old finally got his just rewards over the course and distance when running out an easy winner of the Grand Sefton Chase last November, beating Nikola by an easy 5l after making just about all of the running.
The favourite Mon Parrain, the mount of Ruby Walsh, looked flattered when trouncing a moderate field of handicappers at Sandown last time and represents little value at odds of 5/1, and a bigger danger to Frankie Figg, who is a best price 14/1 with Ladbrokes, is the Irish trained Dev.
Like Frankie Figg, Dev likes to be up with the pace and Gordon Elliott’s charge is bound to give jockey Paul Carberry a fantastic ride in a contest where there will be no prisoners taken.
The rest of today’s card is of the highest quality and the John Smith’s Mildmay Novices’ Chase can go to Master of the Hall.
Available at 6/1 with Victor Chandler, Barry Geraghty’s mount will be better suited by Aintree, and can turn the tables on Wayward Prince, who finished three places in front of Master of the Hall when third in Cheltenham’s RSA Chase at the festival.
The John Smith’s Melling Chase lookes a stronger heat than Cheltenham’s Ryanair, in which French Opera could be worth chancing at the 12/1 available with Stan James.
The 8 year-old found things happening too quickly in the Queen Mother Champion Chase last time, and will be much better served by today’s course and distance.