AINTREE handicaps, like at Cheltenham, are always devilishly difficult puzzles to unravel and that looks the case with the 18-runner Close Brothers Red Rum Handicap Chase (4.40pm).
Paul Nicholls’ Getaway Trump will be well fancied after his impressive win at Doncaster last month, but he has the burden of top weight which may prove too difficult to overcome.
Henry de Bromhead had a dream time of it at the Cheltenham Festival with six winners, so you’d expect there to be plenty of interest in his two runners, Moon Over Germany and Jan Maat.
The former was an impressive winner of the last running of this race in 2019 but has gone up in the weights and seems to prefer soft ground, while the latter’s recent form has been pretty woeful.
If there is one horse who could be thrown in here, for me it’s Dan Skelton’s DESTRIER who was third in a Grade One novice chase at this meeting two years ago.
Admittedly he’s been disappointing this season but he’s been running on soft ground and been dropped 10lbs in the weights.
This will be the first time he has encountered a decent surface since that fine effort over course and distance and he simply has to be a bet here at 5/1 off a mark of 136.
We get our first sight of those famous spruce-topped National fences in the Rose Paterson Randox Foxhunters’ Open Hunters’ Chase (4:05pm) earlier on the card.
Horses aged 10 or older have landed this prize in all bar one of the last 16 renewals and siding with experience may be the way to go again.
Willie Mullins’ Billaway, nine, and Paul Nicholls’ Cat Tiger, just seven, head the betting at around the 7/2 mark, but lurking in behind is the 12-year-old SAMETEGAL, also trained by Nicholls.
He’s rated a few pounds inferior to the market leaders, and isn’t exactly open to improvement at this stage of his career, but this will be his third spin over these unique obstacles and that could count for plenty.
At 5/1, he’s a much more reliable selection, while his form from two starts back, where he beat Billaway’s Cheltenham conqueror Porlock Bay, looks very solid now.
Sametegal e/w 4.05pm Aintree (Thursday)
Destrier 4.40pm Aintree (Thursday)