The National Hunt season is beginning to get going in earnest now. While Cheltenham has already hosted its first meeting of the campaign, Aintree returns also with the ever-popular Old Roan Chase on Sunday.
There are sixteen fences to take over two-and-a-half miles of Aintree’s Mildmay course, the runners looking to emulate the likes of Kauto Star and Frodon in winning this £90,000 event.
Sadly, there are only eight runners this year, but it still looks to be a great betting race nonetheless. That’s especially true for us, as our selection looks great value in the market.
Given the smaller field, we’ve narrowed the Old Roan down to just four horses instead of the usual six, beginning with the topweight.
Still only a five-year-old, it can’t be forgotten that Allmankind is a Grade One-winning hurdler and chaser, last season’s Henry VIII Novices’ Chase scorer having also put up a reasonable show in the Arkle behind Shishkin.
After running at Cheltenham, Dan Skelton’s gelding took the Grade 2 Future Champions Novices’ Chase at Ayr with the minimum of fuss by 19 lengths in April, the key question for punters now being have these performances landed him with too high a rating to win a strong handicap first time out?
Last season he appeared to need his reappearance run which is a slight concern, so while he has a ton of class we reckon taking prices of around 7/2 about this chap off 11st10lbs is a big risk.
Emma Lavelle’s seven-year-old is a very interesting contender indeed. It is forever interesting to see a horse make higher than average progression from a bumper to hurdles, and then again taking a sharp increase in trajectory from hurdles to fences.
Killer Clown has done that and it leads us to believe there is still a lot more to come. After settling into this sphere over the course of three runs, he finally won at Kempton on Boxing Day and in good style too.
That led to Killer Clown going off favourite for a Grade 3 handicap at Newbury, the Greatwood Gold Cup, in which he was only just beaten by Umbrigado. He was arguably over the top when finishing a 12½-length third to Belargus at Sandown in April, but once again he was favourite with the bookies taking no risks on him.
After a 183-day break he should now be ready to rock ‘n’ roll again for this season, with significant improvement expected. His speed counts for a lot on good ground too and he can make use of it at Aintree, making his price look very, very tempting indeed given his light weight. Tom Bellamy rides.
Midnight Shadow makes the list by virtue of him being solid over fences overall. True, his form figures of 6/02P- don’t look too inviting, but there is a hurdle race thrown in there while in the last couple of year’s he’s won the Dipper and finished placed in both the Scilly Isles Novices’ and the Caspian Caviar Gold Cup.
He was down the field in this race last year, but he can do better and may represent just a little bit of betting value, certainly for a place.
Tamaroc Du Mathan
It’s hard to know exactly what level Paul Nicholls’ Tamaroc Du Mathan can reach, but as expected he is priced up more with the expectation of him showing a lot of improvement which is never guaranteed.
A winner on his chase debut last November, he was second in the Wayward Lad to Shishkin of all horses, although he was thoroughly put in his place by 13 lengths in all fairness.
He went on to win the Pendil (Grade 2) at Kempton in February before unseating at Ayr behind Allmankind, with his true level now pretty hard to assess.
He’s 12lbs lower in the handicap than Allmankind despite getting as close to Shishkin as he did, which says a lot.
Tamaroc Du Mathan was looking well beaten off level weights at Ayr behind Allmankind before unseating, though on a line through Shishkin his weight pull here could be handy and he has plenty more to offer this season.
Off a mark of just 140 however there is so much to like about Emma Lavelle’s KILLER CLOWN. He now jumps really well, loves this distance and likely ground, is liable to be a different animal this season coming back refreshed after a break and his second breathing operation.