TONY McCoy warmed up for his Grand National success last year by taking Friday’s Grade 1 Melling Chase (3.05pm) aboard ALBERTAS RUN and I fully expect them to be in the winner’s enclosure again this afternoon. The key to Jonjo O’Neill’s high class 10-year-old is having genuine good ground and the sun on his back. He comes alive in the spring, winning last year’s Ryanair Chase at the Festival before coming here and he was an impressive winner in the same race last month.
If the ground was to deteriorate, his chance would diminish, but it looks as though Aintree is going to be bathed in sunshine today which suits our selection perfectly. Master Minded just isn’t the force of old and I’d much rather be a layer than a backer on Betdaq, while Somersby and Kalahari King are talented, but frustrating.
Nicky Henderson didn’t have the best Cheltenham, but compensation awaits in the Novices’ Chase with MASTER OF THE HALL (2.30pm). He has run some excellent races this season and was travelling well coming down the hill in the RSA Chase before a mistake at the third-last put paid to his chance. He didn’t look like he was enjoying himself at Cheltenham and Aintree should be much more up his street.
The Topham Chase (3.40pm) is always a thrilling contest and it’s difficult to look beyond the Paul Nicholls’ trained MON PARRAIN. Rarely has such an inexperienced horse jumped Sandown’s railway fences as well and 5/1 with Victor Chandler is a good price. I also wouldn’t put anyone off a small each-way bet on FRANKIE FIGG who loves it around here.
Finally, don’t miss Alan King’s TANTE SISSI in the closing Mares’ Bumper (5.25pm). She ran a stormer at Sandown last time and gets a useful weight allowance being a four-year-old. In the race’s six-year history, the minimum age group have won four times and only two line-up today.
IN-RUNNING TRADING HINTS
THE National is the best possible advert for in-running betting on horseracing. Don’t Push It, last year’s winner, took nine minutes and four seconds to secure his place in the history books and was matched at prices ranging from 34.0 through to the inevitable 1.01.
Looking at this year’s field and there are several strong travelling runners who have the potential to trade far shorter than their current prices. Both State Of Play (32.0) and Big Fella Thanks (19.0) have looked likely winners of this race in the past and have travelled ominously well to the second-last fence.
There is every chance they could do the same again, but make sure you hit the escape button before the stamina question comes into play. I’ll also be looking out for Tidal Bay to see how he copes with the first six or seven fences. He has so much ability and his current price could look silly if still in touch with a circuit to go.
Looking at today’s action, there are a couple of interesting front runners in the Topham Chase at 3.40pm. Regular readers of this column will remember that I flagged up Frankie Figg last year as a back-to-lay at 20.0 and he traded at a low of 3.5 before tipping up two from home.
He reappears again today and is likely to trade a lot shorter in-running again if bowling along in front. However, he may well be taken on for the lead by Dev, so I’ll be trading the pair as the race unfolds.