Almost as if to replicate the spring festivals, Aintree comes hot on the heels of Cheltenham as we kick of the jumps season in earnest and after two great days of competitive racing at Prestbury Park we have our first proper handicap chase of the term.
The Old Roan is at 3 o’clock at Liverpool and is an early chance for trainers to grab some valuable prize money as well as seeing where their chasers are. We have six against the field here plus a nicely priced win selection.
One of the top weights in this contest, Cloudy Dream is a class act and may well be sent off favourite for this race.
Perhaps not surprisingly for one trained by Donald McCain, this popular 8yo knows his way around this track and has had some mild success here in the past but may well simply be vulnerable to better handicapped types.
Having had wind surgery in January we are expecting to see better performances going forward from Nigel Twiston-Davies’ gelding and this is undoubtedly the Gloucestershire trainer’s time of year.
Flying Angel has already had a run since the op which didn’t go well, however his form before that was on the improve generally speaking and a fourth to Top Notch in a Grade 2 chase at Ascot shows him up to be one of the best at these weights.
He hasn’t won since April 2017 though that was over this very course and distance and a very big run is expected under Sam Twiston-Davies this time.
Emma Lavelle is a serious trainer and this horse is a serial winner having taken four victories from 6 chase races to date.
The 9yo is also fit having reappeared at Uttoxeter in September and with another step forward here should be right in the mix at the business end of this race, his relative inexperience being perhaps the only real negative in his overall profile.
A winning chaser on a roll with a light weight should always be a danger in a race of this nature and in the case of Dr Richard Newland’s runner those facts are certainly prevalent.
Winning four of his 7 chases and his last two in a row, it seems Theo is a horse we have not got to the bottom of just yet and so he cannot be easily discounted from this.
Value At Risk
Dan and Harry Skelton must be coming into this plenty confident but despite having moved up the chasing ladder sufficiently enough to win around Ayr in the spring he definitely needs another step forward to win here.
A winner of two of his 8 chase races to date, he has overall had enough opportunities for us to assess how good he is and it’s thought he’ll be better with this run under his belt.
Races of this sort of class are very often won by horses reappearing for the year but about to go on to big things in the months ahead, but flying the flag for those having been running during the summer is the excellent Lucinda Russell’s Voix D’Eau.
His two wins from 7 runs in 2018 have all come under the stewardship of Harry Fry, but Russell is the type to coax even more ability out of him and so he should be watched carefully in the betting.
Emma Lavelle’s improver Javert goes high up on the shortlist as does the Skelton’s Value At Risk for similar reasons, however I’d be surprised if we don’t see a much better level of form this season from FLYING ANGEL and at the forecast odds he certainly represents great value.