MILL can grind out another success in Aintree's Becher Chase (1.30), the first race run over the most famous fences in the world since last season's Grand National.
Unlike many handicap chases, lightly-raced types are not the way to go in races over the National course. The fences are nowhere near as tough as they were in Red Rum's era but they are still big and daunting.
Some horses take to the place but plenty don't so it can pay to concentrate on those with proven course form. And none have better credentials than last year's winner, WALK IN THE MILL.
He stayed on strongly to easily beat the 2016 winner Vieux Lion Rouge 12 months ago and can confirm the form on 5lb worse terms.
He then ran an excellent fourth, off 3lb more than his current mark, behind Tiger Roll in the big race in April and shaped well for a long way on his return at Wincanton.
Walk In The Mill, off an ideal racing weight of 10-8, will have been aimed at this and has plenty in his favour.
Last year's runner-up will surely run a big race again as will 2017 National hero One For Arthur, who produced another good effort here when sixth in the 2019 version.
He ran well on his return when fourth at Kelso, where Vintage Clouds, who jumped poorly, was back in fifth.
Ballyoptic is fairly handicapped after winning the Charlie Hall but has fallen on his two outings over this course. Mulcahys Hill won well at Cheltenham on his return but that was in novice company.
He will find this a very different test. Wandrin Star won well on his return and may improve again. If he does, and takes to the fences, he could play a part as might As De Mee, a previous winner of the Sefton, who is well treated on his old form.
Sandown host a fantastic Tingle Creek Chase (3.00) where UN DE SCEAUX can repeat his 2016 win.
He also made Altior work very hard 12 months ago and, although an 11-year-old, was as good as ever last term when he rounded off by beating top-class stablemate Min at Punchestown.
He is a model of consistency – his 32 races have produced 23 wins and 5 seconds and has an excellent record when returning from a break. Whatever the betting may say he is the best horse in the race.
Defi Du Seuil has caught the imagination after his eye-catching win at Cheltenham last month. He may well be improving and clearly has a major chance but he was campaigned over further last season and was receiving 3lb from the runner-up Politologue last time.
Count-ing our money
Last week we managed to dig out 12-1 winner De Rasher Counter in the big one! Hopefully we can find another gem this week…
The grey, who won this in 2017, may well reverse the form. Sceau Royal was bogged down in the mud when beaten here 12 months ago and will appreciate better ground but he is closely matched with Politologue and the lack of a run could be against him.
Waiting Patiently still has loads of potential but, in a race where shocks are rare, is probably best watched for now.
The other Grade 1 at the Esher track, the Henry VIII Novices Chase (1.50) is almost as fascinating as the big race.
Esprit Du Large remains one to be interested in but is probably better over further so the bet is TORPILLO, receiving the weight allowance. He jumped really well for a novice when winning a good race at Warwick, unlike Summerville Boy who was sketchy at Uttoxeter.
Nube Negra is already better as a chaser than he was as a hurdler and is probably the big danger as Grand Sancy is in at the deep end on his chasing debut. Torpillo has won over hurdles here and, if the four-year-old gets into a good jumping rhythm, will be hard to catch.
The London National (3.35) features plenty of Sandown regulars. Houblon Des Obeaux won at the last meeting here but is high in the weights now while 2018 Bet365 Gold Cup (the Whitbread to you and me!) winner Step Back may need the run.
Classic Ben, who landed a gamble here over three miles last term, is fairly weighted if he stays the longer trip but SHARP RESPONSE is the pick of the weights.
He was second to fast-improving Crievehill at Haydock last time and runs off the same mark. He is proven over marathon trips and invariably jumps well.
Betting Spy's top tips for Saturday
- 1.25 Chepstow – Accordingtogino (Bet now)
- 1.30 Aintree – Walk In The Mill (Bet now)
- 1.50 Sandown – Torpillo (Bet now)
- 3.00 Sandown – Un De Sceaux (Bet now)
- 3.35 Sandown – Sharp Response (Bet now)
With Sue Smith's horses in much better form now he looks sure to run a big race.
At Chepstow ACCORDINGTOGINO can take the staying handicap hurdle at 1.25. He produced a career-best effort when second over course and distance last time, form which ties in closely with likely favourite Perfect Man.
But Accordingtogino has only raced five times and is almost certainly capable of much better.
Plus he was possibly in front too soon last time when ridden by a 7lb-claimer. Hopefully Conor Shoemark will hold on to him a little longer.
I spy an eyecatcher…
The Kempton meeting on Monday opened with a decent 2m novice hurdle, where Golden Taipan did well to defy a double penalty from the promising runner-up Namib Dancer.
But the big eyecatcher was RAVEN COURT, who stayed on strongly to grab third after being outpaced. Philip Hobbs' five-year-old had shown some promise in a light bumper campaign but this was much better on his seasonal reappearance, where little was expected – he was sent off at 25-1.
He is one to note, especially given a stiffer test of stamina, and will make a chaser further down the line.
There is some terrific racing on Sunday at Huntingdon and Kelso but the highlight is the John Durkan Memorial Chase at Punchestown (1.50).
Min will be hard to beat over the 2m4f but the horse to keep a close eye on is Presenting Percy, although he will probably find this trip too sharp. He was a brilliant winner of the 2018 RSA Chase but has hardly been sighted since.
He won once over hurdles last season before disappointing in the Gold Cup where he returned lame.
No one outside the stable has any idea as to the horse's fitness as the trainer is as talkative as a Trappist monk but Percy is still only eight and, were he to turn up at Cheltenham on Gold Cup day at his best then his current odds of 16-1 would look very generous indeed.
Source: Read Full Article