SOME horses just tend to come alive at this time of year. The sun on their backs and the sound of their hooves rattling a little louder seems to rejuvenate them and I often look for horses at this meeting who have run well in previous years.
Battle Group was a prime example 12 months ago when he won over hurdles and then over fences just two days later, having won in 2011 and finished second in 2012 at this meeting.
That defeat two years ago was to a horse called SAINT ARE in what is now the Betfred TV Handicap Chase (3.25pm) and I strongly fancy Tim Vaughan’s runner to bounce back tomorrow.
Saint Are won this race off a mark of 137 that day and he is now down to 129. Bear in mind that he and Battle Group were 16 lengths clear of the third two years ago and that Battle Group won last year’s renewal by 16 lengths off 131.
My selection never runs well at Cheltenham so I’m sure connections couldn’t believe their luck when he was dropped seven pounds for his run in the Kim Muir. He is still only an eight-year-old and as long as the ground doesn’t soften dramatically, he must go very close.
Alan King has actually had a pretty good season considering he had to shut down his yard in the middle of winter and BALDER SUCCESS holds outstanding claims in the Doom Bar Maghull Novices’ Chase (2.05pm).
His trainer wisely decided to sidestep Cheltenham after his win at Kempton in February and I can see him bowling along in front before kicking clear up the long home straight.
Balder Success was a commanding winner of the Star Sports Kingmaker at Warwick and a fast-run two miles should suit him down to the ground.
Trifolium looks the big danger but he had a pretty hard race in the Racing Post Arkle and I’m happy to oppose him.
More Of That would have been a hot favourite if lining up in the Silver Cross Stayers’ Hurdle (2.50pm), but his absence means we have an open contest. Plenty of punters will be supporting At Fishers Cross after his impressive win here last year.
However, I prefer the claims of ZARKANDAR who has now proven that he stays this three mile trip and Noel Fehily might decide to ride him more aggressively than in the World Hurdle.
Zarkandar beat The New One in the Aintree Hurdle 12 months ago and that is the best form on offer.
BALDER SUCCESS 2.05pm Aintree (tomorrow)
ZARKANDAR 2.50pm Aintree (tomorrow)
SAINT ARE e/w 3.25pm Aintree (tomorrow)