The race is much more open now and it looks a straight match to me between Sire De Grugy and Captain Conan. I’m struggling to split the two, while I think Somersby will struggle back over two miles, so I’m going to take a look at the Becher Chase up at Aintree instead (2.05pm).
A record field of 24 – no more than 21 have lined up since the race was introduced in 1992 – is set to assemble for this 3m 2f test over the Grand National fences, and this is effectively going to be a mini-National.
On His Own is likely to go off favourite and that is no shock since he comes from the all-conquering Willie Mullins stable. Yet, he has run twice over these unique obstacles and has fallen both times, so I’m happy to swerve him.
Experience of these fences is vital and that is the reason why I’m backing two each-way, PLANET OF SOUND and GULLIBLE GORDON.
The former was jumping for fun in the 2012 Grand National before his stamina gave way, and he has gone well fresh in the past. He will love the ground and looks a decent each-way bet at 16/1 with Coral.
Gullible Gordon was sixth in this race last year on unsuitably soft ground and then finished fifth in the Topham over too short a trip. This distance on good ground is perfect, and if you can find any 20/1 that is a very fair each-way price.
Henderson had a day to remember last Saturday and Seven Barrows could be about to click into full gear very soon.
The champion trainer’s horses have definitely been coming on for their seasonal reappearance and if WHISPER shows even a small amount of improvement I think he will be hard to beat if lining up in the Pertemps qualifier at Sandown tomorrow afternoon (1.20pm).
Dai Walters’ five-year-old was progressive last season and ran a cracker to be fourth behind stablemate Close Touch in the EBF Final at this course back in March.
He reappeared at Cheltenham in the Paddy Power meeting and travelled really well before blowing up on the run-in. He will have to carry a big weight tomorrow, but that shouldn’t be a problem and he should go very close.
Another Henderson horse that I’m really excited to see is RIVER MAIGUE, who could make his seasonal debut in the Listed handicap hurdle at 2.25pm.
The stable have won two of the last three renewals with horses carrying big weights and River Maigue could be well-handicapped off a mark of 140.
His last run was in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle when he finished a respectable eighth and prior to that he produced three solid efforts over hurdles.
He’s not in quite the same class as Champion Hurdle contender My Tent Or Yours, but this doesn’t look a particularly strong race and I reckon the six-year-old is better than the others.
WHISPER 1.20pm Sandown (tomorrow)
PLANET OF SOUND E/W 2.05pm Aintree (tomorrow)
GULLIBLE GORDON E/W 2.05pm Aintree (tomorrow)
RIVER MAIGUE 2.25pm Sandown (tomorrow)