THERE were a few hard luck stories at Cheltenham last month and connections of The New One were left to ponder what might have been had their superstar hurdler not suffered interference when the ill-fated Our Conor fell.
It is impossible to say that he would have definitely won, but he certainly would have been bang there and this afternoon’s Doom Bar Aintree Hurdle (3.05pm) looks the proverbial penalty kick.
Nigel Twiston-Davies’ six-year-old just failed to beat Zarkandar in this 12 months ago when only a novice and today’s rivals aren’t likely to put the fear of God into the trainer and his jockey son Sam.
The New One is prone to the odd error but I can’t see him being beaten. That doesn’t mean I’m willing to back him at 2/5, though, so the bet has to be DIAKALI without the favourite.
Willie Mullins’ five-year-old ran a cracker in the County Hurdle and has a strong record in small fields. He is 5/2 in the without market and each-way punters might also consider the 12/1 with Coral.
Rock On Ruby is on a recovery mission, while Grandouet and Ptit Zig look to have plenty to find.
Claret Cloak is certain to be the money horse in the Silver Cross Red Rum Handicap Chase (4.15pm) after his unlucky defeat in the Grand Annual when he smashed the second last.
However, horses like this are often over-bet next time out and I’m happy to leave him alone as he may not be the strongest in the finish anyway.
Charles Byrnes is always a trainer to be feared when he sends one over here and ARNAUD looks to hold very solid claims after running a cracker to finish second to Valdez at Doncaster in January.
Denis O’Regan probably went a bit too quick that day and if promising 7lb claimer Ger Fox can get the fractions right Arnaud looks a knocking each-way bet at 7/1 with BetBright.
A small but select field will assemble for the Pinsent Masons Manifesto Novices’ Chase (4.50pm) and I was surprised to see the bookmakers install Western Warhorse as the favourite on the back of his win in the Arkle.
David Pipe’s six-year-old has always been something of a screwball and he broke many punters’ hearts when chinning Champagne Fever on the line at Cheltenham
I wouldn’t have faith in him producing the goods again, however, and I’m very keen on Aintree specialist OSCAR WHISKY who fell at the first in the JLT Novices’ Chase at the Festival.
It’s not been a great season for Nicky Henderson, but Oscar Whisky loves it here and he is a decent bet at 5/2 with BetBright.
DIAKALI (without The New One) 3.05pm Aintree
ARNAUD e/w 4.15pm Aintree
OSCAR WHISKY 4.50pm Aintree