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Finian’s Rainbow chasing Cheltenham/Aintree double
Finian’s Rainbow, who hit the heights in the Queen Mother Champion Chase at Cheltenham last month, can complete a notable double at Aintree today.
The £175,000 John Smith’s Melling Chase is the target for Nicky Henderson’s talented gelding, who will again have the services of Barry Geraghty, as he takes on seven rivals, including the ultra-popular Albertas Run.
Finian’s Rainbow, who lowered the colours of Sizing Europe in his latest race, steps up to two-and-a-half miles this time and may well be even better suited by the longer distance.
Albertas Run, narrowly beaten in the Ryanair Chase at Cheltenham, will be supported to go one better, but the ease in the ground on Merseyside may count against him and Finian’s Rainbow is expected to have his measure.
Tony McCoy, rider of Albertas Run, can draw first blood on the card aboard Darlan in the Tangle Teezer Top Novices’ Hurdle.
The five-year-old, a stable-mate of Finian’s Rainbow, ran a blinder at Cheltenham to finish second to Cinders And Ashes in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle. Provided he can reproduce that level of form, he will be very hard to beat.
Champion Court is another horse coming to Aintree from Cheltenham looking for deserved compensation.
Martin Keighley’s high-class gelding found only the very smart Sir Des Champs too good for him in the Jewson Novices’ Chase at the Festival, but went down fighting. He should be hard to catch around this sharper course.
The £100,000 John Smith’s Topham Handicap Chase is today’s race over the Grand National fences and Little Josh makes appeal under young Sam Twiston-Davies.
Winner of the 2010 Paddy Power Gold Cup at Cheltenham, Little Josh has been running in graded races of late, but he should appreciate this return to handicap company, especially as he has slipped down to a very attractive mark.
A strong galloper and a bold jumper, who likes to race up with the pace, it is not difficult to envisage Little Josh getting into a great rhythm, so important to jumping these unique fences.
Fingal Bay, unbeaten this season, was forced to miss last month’s Cheltenham Festival after a minor setback.
Philip Hobbs has now got him back firing again and the powerful six-year-old turns out for the John Smith’s Sefton Novices’ Hurdle.
There is no doubt that Fingal Bay is a high-class performer and, although he is something of a briefly forgotten talent, he can give a sharp reminder of his existence by winning this Grade 1 contest to make it five wins from five runs this season.
Malcolm Jefferson’s Cheltenham Festival winner Attaglance turns out in the John Smith’s Daily Mirror Punters Club Handicap Hurdle.
A bold bid is expected, but it is going to be difficult for him under top weight and preference is for It’s A Gimme, winner of two of his four starts this season and most recently successful at Southwell. He represents Jonjo O’Neill and Tony McCoy.
Alan King has a smart performer on his hands in Call Me A Star, who showed plenty of talent and courage to win at Sandown last time. She is fancied to follow up in the John Smith’s Mares’ National Hunt Flat Race.
At Newcastle tomorrow, Sledmere trainer Declan Carroll bids to win his third race inside a week with Boucher Garcon in the 32RedPoker.com Handicap.
Successful at Musselburgh last Sunday, the speedy four-year-old followed up in fluent style at Catterick on Wednesday.
The nap vote goes to Newport Arch in the 32Red Handicap. John Quinn’s gelding has been in good form on the all-weather and can use his proven fitness to good effect.
2.00 Darlan, 2.30 Champion Court, 3.05 Finian’s Rainbow, 3.40 Little Josh, 4.15 Fingal Bay, 4.50 It’s A Gimme, 5.25 Call Me A Star.
Today’s other meetings
Leicester, Sedgefield and Wolverhampton.
1.35 Nice Rose, 2.10 Calaf, 2.45 Newport Arch (NAP), 3.20 Boucher Garcon, 3.55 Beachwood Bay, 5.00 Widyaan, 5.30 Red Tyke.
Tomorrow’s other meetings
Chepstow, Lingfield, Aintree and Wolverhampton.