Following a rollercoaster four days at the Cheltenham Festival last month, punters’ attention now turns to the three-day Aintree meeting, which commences on Thursday. We will deliver an unrivalled Grand National betting preview ahead of Saturday’s main event, but the focus at this point is on the big race of the opening day, the Betfred Bowl Chase.
Silviniaco Conti appeared to be very much in contention when coming to grief at the third-last in the Gold Cup last month, and Paul Nicholls’ charge is widely expected to gain compensation in this Grade 1 contest.
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The seven-year-old impressed in winning his three starts this season prior to the Festival, with accurate jumping featuring amongst his traits, therefore his mishap at Prestbury Park is easy to forgive.
Silviniaco Conti has winning form over the C&D of Thursday’s race, too, having run out an emphatic winner of the Mildmay Novices’ Chase at this meeting 12 months ago. He looks very solid overall and is clearly the one to beat.
However, he’s plenty short enough at 10/11 and it’s probably no great coincidence that the last three winners of this race all bypassed the Cheltenham Festival. It’s hard to judge how much his Gold Cup exertions have taken out of him, but it’s a valid point nonetheless.
Indeed, it’s an advantage to be relatively fresh at this time of year and the one that catches my eye is Irish raider QUITO DE LA ROQUE who rates a cracking each-way bet at 10/1 (price available with Paddy Power at the time of writing) with eight runners set to go to post.
Admittedly, he has proved a shade disappointing on occasion, but he’s got plenty of class and duly bounced back from a no-show in the Lexus Chase by successfully conceding weight all round in a well-contested Grade 2 event at Thurles on his latest start in January.
Colm Murphy’s chaser cosily dispatched with the progressive Roi du Mee in the race in question, and the latter has franked the form in no uncertain terms by winning twice since. It looks very much as though Quito de la Roque has slipped under the radar here – I think odds of 10/1 grossly underestimate him.
First Lieutenant is, like the selection, owned by the Gigginstown House Stud, and he chased home Cue Card in the Ryanair Chase last time. That was a valiant effort, but he doesn’t always find a great deal at the business end of his races, while The Giant Bolster and Cape Tribulation both had hard races at the Festival and this may come too soon for that duo.
Oscar Whisky will be bidding for his third consecutive victory in the John Smith’s Aintree Hurdle, but he has been deserted by Barry Geraghty who has opted to partner Nicky Henderson’s other contender Grandouet who was still travelling well when falling four out in the Champion Hurdle last time.
He will surely be in the mix if his stamina holds out upped to two-and-a-half miles here, while Champion Hurdle fourth Zarkandar and exciting novice The New One are obvious dangers. However, the vote goes to COUNTRYWIDE FLAME who ran out of his skin when third behind Hurricane Fly in the Champion and I reckon John Quinn’s star hurdler will be seen to event better effect now faced with a stiffer test of stamina.
In the final race live on C4 on Thursday, the Matalan.co.uk Red Rum Chase, I really like the look of the Tony Martin-trained PIRES. He will relish the drying ground and can see off Grand Annual runner-up Kid Cassidy and Paul Nicholls’ representatives Rebel Rebellion and Toubab.
Don’t forget to visit TV Bet again tomorrow for a preview of Friday’s action at Aintree, followed by a comprehensive preview of the big race on Saturday, which will include Grand National odds for the key contenders and expert betting advice.
2.00 Flaxen Flare
2.30 Quito de la Roque
3.05 Countrywide Flame
3.40 Bold Addition