Wednesday, 5th April 2017
I really like the Aintree meeting. It resonates with me.
It’s got something to do with the sunshine the meeting always seems to attract and the sheer emerald green sheen of the track. It just looks fantastic….
But that’s enough of the aesthetics. We have business to deal with….
The action at this year’s Grand National meeting gets underway tomorrow afternoon and we’ve a decent race to get our teeth into – the Red Rum Handicap Chase (4.40).
It seems odd that a horse famed for his exploits in the Grand National has a 2-mile handicap chase named after him. But who am I to question it?
A field of 15 runners goes to post – which means we won’t be playing for a 4th-place – on ground described this afternoon as good.
The forecast is for dry and sunny weather all the way through to post time. They won’t quite be bouncing off the surface – but it will be more spring ground than winter.
The Red Rum has been a good race for the novices over the years. Novice chasers have won 8 of the last 15 renewals….
The emphasis over 2-miles is on speed rather than stamina. Over the minimum trip, the older more experienced horses don’t have the same advantage over the younger and less experienced types than they might over further – when gutsing it out comes into play….
The novices can easily last home over 2-miles and they are improving in leaps and bounds whilst the older and more exposed types have less scope for progression….
That might help explain why they do so well in this race – one of the top open 2-mile handicaps on the programme….
Another key thing to bear in mind is that this race has not been kind to horses carrying weight. Only two winners have carried more than 11-02 in the last 17 years….
The Grand Annual at the Cheltenham Festival is a good place to start your inquiries. Seven of the last 18 Red Rum winners had run in that race. Dandridge, Theinval & Witness in Court represent the form of that race this time round….
Working on my sheet for the race, Astre De La Cour was the first runner to catch my eye. A novice with just 4 runs over fences under his belt, in-form, not too much weight and with Paul Townend an eye-catching first-time booking. But the prices dictate and the 7s is short enough.
And the one I like at an each-way price is Dan Skelton’s YORKIST at 16s….
He’s not a typical pick for this race. He’s certainly no novice at the age of 9. And he’s been around the block a bit – from Micky Hammond to Brian Ellison and back again before pitching up at Dan Skelton’s yard for the start of the current season.
He disappointed first-time-up when a beaten favourite at Ascot. He probably needed that run. Or there may have been a problem. But next time out – some 8-weeks later – he put it right at Wetherby and landed his biggest pot to date in the Castleford.
He hasn’t been made much use of since then – appearing once more at Doncaster at the end of January where he ran with credit and got competitive off a mark of 135.
Yorkist has the look of a horse that’s been minded and I think this has been the target since that Wetherby win – after which Dan Skelton intimated that the Red Rum ‘could be his race’.
A mark of 134 is very workable on historic form. And, whilst much of his recent form has been on ground with cut, I think he could improve on the quicker ground he’ll get tomorrow. Some of his very best early work over fences was done on good ground.
The Skelton yard has been in decent fettle producing 11 winners over the last fortnight. And that’s a plus. Because quite a few opponents are running out of yards that seem out-of-form.
For sure, there are plenty of potential springers in the field. But I reckon Yorkist can find enough off 134 to get very competitive here. And I like the price.
I think the market is overlooking a horse whose been aimed at this for a while and turns up fresher than everything else. I think the 16s is value.
Contrarian, I know. But that’s how we roll in the big handicaps at ATC….
The Contrarian Bet Box….
To recap on where my contrarian money will be going tomorrow….
In the Red Rum Handicap Chase (4.40 @ Aintree)....
That is my take on where the value lies – but you will no doubt have your own ideas and that’s exactly as it should be.
That’s all from me for today.
I’ll be back tomorrow with my take on the action on day 2 at Aintree.
Until then. Stay tuned.
P.S. You can get 100/1 on ANY horse you fancy in Saturday’s Grand National – great news if you fancy something much shorter in the betting. You’ll need to open a new account with Racebets and the max stake is just £1. But value is value. Act fast. This offer won’t be available on Saturday. Get 100s here.