Steve Hughes has selections from three more races at Aintree on Friday.
Plenty more runners at Aintree on Friday and a few more handicaps too making putting more tricky. I have selections from three races including the featured Melling Chase. We had a strong start to the meeting yesterday with a win for L’Ami Serge (advised 13/2) and a placed effort each-way from Theinval (advised 6/1).
Aintree 1.45: Spiritofthegames & Jester Jet
A wide open start to the day and two improving hurdlers are fancied against the field.
Spiritofthegames has been improving race on race having started the year with a win in a minor handicap at Lingfield. He has performed with great credit in defeat since – second in the Lanzarote over this trip at Kempton, and then placed in the Betfair Hurdle at Newbury and Count Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival at around 2m. I think this 2m4f trip around a sharp track is his ideal scenario – his race wins last year came at sharp tracks like Ayr and Taunton.
Jester Jet is an improving mare who might not yet have reached the limit of her ability. Trainer Tom Lacey has been in top form all winter, but especially in the past few weeks. The mare won easily over an extended 3m at Plumpton, but probably found that trip slightly too far at the stiffer Cheltenham track. The ground was probably too bad at Kempton where she ran a rare poor race, but she showed when second to a fine mare in Woolstone One at Warwick that she is still at the top of her game. She looks overpriced given her upward profile.
Aintree 2.50: Elegant Escape
Thereabouts in all the top staying novice races this winter Elegant Escape has had a busy campaign, but the application of cheekpieces might just spark a better effort yet this afternoon.
He has long looked a candidate for some sort of headgear as he can wander around a little under pressure. He was the best of the British horses in the RSA at Cheltenham last month, the first two home not reopposing today. Prior to that he had a couple of fine tussles with Black Corton, coming out on top at Newbury before giving best at Kempton. However I expect the headgear to sharpen up his game and in a race with plenty of pace on this is a race that can go to a proven stayer such as him.
Aintree 3.25: Balko des Flos
A revelation when running away with the Ryanair Chase, Balko des Flos can prove that win to be no fluke by following up here.
An impressive winner of the Galway Plate in the summer, he was not so good in two runs on much softer going in the autumn. However he could not be crabbed with his runners up position in the Christmas Chase at Leopardstown, so narrowly defeated by Road to Respect.
He was then kept fresh for Cheltenham and I must admit I fully expected him to struggle on the soft ground. However he was well in command from the third last and left Un De Sceaux well behind in the straight. Min is a good horse, but possibly not a great one and is not yet proven at this longer trip. The selection is and can prove himself a true Grade 1 performer today.
0.75pts each-way – Spiritofthegames – 1.45 Aintree – 10/1 Bet365
0.5pts each-way – Jester Jet – 1.45 Aintree – 28/1 Paddy Power (1/5 odds first 5)
1pt each-way – Elegant Escape – 2.50 Aintree – 11/2 Bet365 (¼ odds first 3)
2pts win – Balko Des Flos – 3.25 Aintree – 9/4 Bet365, Paddy Power