TODAY’S Randox Topham Chase (4.05pm) is the only chance for many of the Grand National jockeys to get a sight of the famous fences ahead of tomorrow’s big one.
They’ll of course already be eyeing up National glory, but this would certainly be the ideal preparation ahead of the world’s greatest steeplechase.
As with most big handicaps these days, it looks a tricky puzzle to solve with lots in here holding solid claims, but I’m hoping the tried and tested method of following Peter Bowen bears fruit again as I’m keen on the chances of his MAC TOTTIE at 12/1 with Star Sports.
Bowen has won this 2m5f contest four times in his career, including three times in succession with Always Waining from 2010 to 2012, so it’s clearly a race he likes to target.
His contender this year hasn’t been at his best recently, but the last time he ran over these fences he landed the Grand Sefton in November and you’d have to imagine his handler has had the Topham in mind ever since.
He won that race off 135 and just a few months later he’s back on the same mark today, while he also gets in here with the minimum 10 stone in the saddle
The nine-year-old is much better off at the weights with the horse he beat in the Grand Sefton, Senior Citizen, and he looks a solid contender to give the Bowens yet another victory in the race.
I’ll also be throwing a few quid each-way on 20/1 shot SNUGSBOROUGH HALL.
The Irish raider has been pretty in and out this term, but I’m hoping a return to the big National fences will bring out some improvement as it did the last time he encountered them.
That came when fourth in this contest 12 months ago and given the fact he’s a pound lower in the weights this time around as well as having Eoin Walsh taking off another three pounds, he’s handicapped to have a say.
If you go back through his form, a 10-length fourth to Galvin in a Grade Three in October shows that despite his advancing years, he’s still got the ability to be competitive when on a going day.
With the experience of the National fences under his belt, he should go nicely at an each-way price.
It’s on to the staying novice hurdlers next in the Sefton Novices’ Hurdle (4.40pm) and the one I like the look of is Nicky Richards’ CRYSTAL GLORY.
I have my doubts about the stamina of a few of those at the head of the market and that’s certainly not the case with the selection.
He was a very good second to Hillcrest at Haydock on soft ground when last seen and while he was comfortably beaten that day, he wasn’t stopping at the line and finished 41 lengths clear of the third.
Unlike his conqueror, he’s been given several weeks off and I think that might prove crucial.
Richards’ inmate looks a typical tough and hardy northern raider, who might just have a bit more about him than some of these, particularly if it turns into a battle.
I’d like to think he’ll go really well at 8/1 with Star Sports.
Mac Tottie e/w 4.05pm Aintree
Snugsborough Hall e/w 4.05pm Aintree
Crystal Glory e/w 4.40pm Aintree