Steve Hughes has selections on a cracking day’s jumping at Aintree and Sandown
Whilst most Saturday’s provide top class action, today is really a standout with two races over the National fences at Aintree and very high quality throughout the afternoon at Sandown, featuring the Tingle Creek. I have selections across both fixtures. Killer Miller won the marathon at Fairyhouse for us last week (advised 11/1).
Aintree 1.30: Walk in the Mill
A decisive winner of this race twelve months ago, Walk in the Mill has since gone on to run a tremendous fourth in the National itself and yet he is still very much handicapped to win again today.
The 9yo is only 4lbs higher than for his 4l win here and he proved that effort to be no fluke when comfortably the first English trained horse home in the Aintree spectacular. Incredibly he has been dropped 3lbs for today and as has been shown time and again, course form is so important over this rarely used fences.
He warmed up for this with a run out at Wincanton last month where he looked badly in need of the outing on ground quicker than ideal. I think it is fair to say though that the purpose of that run was just to get him fit for today. It is interesting that connections have reached for some cheekpieces which must just sharpen him up.
Sandown 2.25: Smarty Wild
After a below par return to the track at Cheltenham this season, Smarty Wild returned to form with a vengeance in winning at Exeter last month and can continue his upward curve this afternoon.
He has an impressive 4-6 record over hurdles that began with a hat-trick on little over a month at the beginning of the year. His first two efforts on handicaps produced a combined winning total distance of 17l, proving him to be well ahead of his handicap marks.
All three of those wins last season were gained on right-handed tracks at distances up to 2m3f, so the Cheltenham run can easily be forgiven coming on a left-handed stiff track at a distance of 2m5f. Returned to a shorter trip he showed his true potential again at Exeter and this stiff 2m on heavy ground should prove ideal today.
Sandown 3.00: Politologue
I was standing right by the last fence for the Shloer Chase at Cheltenham last month and I am convinced that Politologue would have beaten Defi Du Seuil that day, but for putting in an extra stride and losing valuable momentum jumping the last. At a track that will prove more to his strengths I think Paul Nicholls’ 8yo can reverse the placings today.
Politologue won this race in 2017 and this fluent jumper can use this tricky jumping test to his advantage, whilst his high cruising speed can gain him track advantage over his rivals. I don’t think front-running suited him ideally at Cheltenham either, but with Ornua in the field I suspect Harry Cobden can enjoy a nice lead from that horse here.
Politologue is 3lbs better off with Defi du Seuil today and I am not convinced Philip Hobbs’ charge is a natural 2m performer and his jumping might be put tested under pressure.
Aintree 3.15: Ultragold & Didero Vallis
Two against the field for the fiercely competitive finale over the big fences.
Given Ultragold’s spectacular record around here, he has to be sided with despite moderate recent form elsewhere. His record over this 2m5f trip reads 121, whilst he was also third in the Becher Chase over 5f further on this card last year (did not quite get the trip). We can forget his run in the National itself as he was never likely to stay and finished lame anyway. Trainer Colin Tizzard has got a run into him to get him fit for today. His form around these fences is far in advance of anything he has achieved away from Aintree.
One horse making his debut here is the youngster Didero Vallis. An enthusiastic front-runner I think he might well take to this test. He is another who looked badly in need of his comeback run at Ascot, but he looks far more suited to a left-handed track anyway and he can leave that performance well behind. He showed great form prior to Christmas last season with wins at Carlisle and Haydock and he was far from disgraced when fifth at the Cheltenham Festival. This flatter track should give him a better chance of keeping out front and the soft ground is a bonus.
0.75pts each-way – Walk in the Mill – 1.30 Aintree – 9/1 Bet365, Skybet
0.75pts each-way – Smarty Wild – 2.25 Sandown – 13/2 Paddy Power (1/5 odds 1st 4)
1pt win – Politologue – 3.00 Sandown – 9/2 general
0.75pts each-way – Ultragold – 3.15 Aintree – 6/1 general (most bookies 1/5 odds 1st 4)
1pt win – Didero Vallis – 3.15 Aintree – 9/1 general