12:33 Betway EBF National Hunt Novices Hurdle

The opening contest is a novices’ hurdle over 2m4f. It’s a really competitive contest with plenty of unknown quantities having their first start over hurdles.

Olly Murphy has his yard in red hot form and his runner TIGERBYTHETAIL, who was only narrowly beaten on his debut bumper run at Market Rasen last season. It’s interesting that his trainer is bringing him to a Grade 1 track to make his hurdling debut as he generally starts his hurdlers off at smaller tracks.

13:08 Pertemps Network Handicap Hurdle

A Pertemps Qualifier is a race where horses have to finish in the first six in order to qualify for the final at the Cheltenham Festival in March, so they’re always hard races to judge and find the winner of. But in these early qualifiers, I like to look for younger, improving horses for whom winning this pot would be valuable and, regardless of the result, it would be unlikely to see them at Cheltenham.

The two horses I’ve landed on are RAPPER, who hasn’t been seen for 12 months but was rapidly improving prior to picking up a niggle last year.

AQUILA SKY is the other, who is fast improving and ran OK on his seasonal debut.

13:40 Betway Novices Limited Handicap Chase

The Skelton team have been in great form in this early stage of the season.

BEAKSTOWN hasn’t been seen since picking up an injury at the Cheltenham Festival in 2020, but has slipped to a very attractive mark. On his best form two years ago, he is a very well handicapped horse. His stable is good at getting horses fit enough to win first time up and this is probably the best time to catch him.

LINELEE KING was always spoken of in glowing terms by his trainer Olly Murphy and, following a poor season last year, looks unexposed off his mark of 124. Murphy’s yard was never firing last season and plenty of his horses will be well handicapped this season.

14:15 Betway Grand Sefton Chase

The Betway Grand Sefton Chase is the first race of the season to be run over the famous Grand National fences.

Trainer Jamie Snowden has been tipping away nicely throughout the summer and both of his horses have great place prospects.

HOGAN'S HEIGHT won the race last year and comes alive over the national fences. A recent prep run over hurdles at Newton Abbot would have put him spot on for this, which has no doubt been his target for the past 12 months.

The stable's other runner is also of interest. THOMAS MACDONAGH is still unexposed over fences and, although he’s untested, he has some good form in the book from last season and conditions should suit him well.

14:50 Betway Supports Safer Gambling Week Handicap Chase

There was a lot to like about the way ESPION DU CHENET won at Down Royal nine days ago. It’s eye-catching that his trainer has brought him over to Aintree for this race. He’s clearly in good form and could be ahead of the handicapper, judged on his performance last week.

Rebecca Menzies is a trainer to keep on the right side of. She has a knack for bringing improvement out of horses and the way she had improved SAO last season was brilliant. He was slightly over the top by his last run of the season but after a summer break, he could have improved again and will likely go well, too.

15:20 Betway Hurdle

IF THE CAP FITS has been mixing it between hurdles and fences for the past few seasons and while he’s been running at a good level for all of his career, he is just of top class. His trainer Harry Fry is in excellent form and these conditions of this race will suit this nine-year-old well.

He was an eye catching in the Stayers’ Hurdle at Cheltenham, as he tanked along for a long portion of the race, before not truly staying. This drop back in trip should suit him. His main danger is likely to be last year’s winner, SUMMERVILLE BOY.

15:55 Betway “Junior” National Hunt Flat Race

The concluding contest is a junior bumper over 2m1f.  There isn’t a great deal of form to go on but, of those who have had a run, LEGIONAIR is the horse whose previous run is most eye-catching. He got going too late on over 1m5f at Huntingdon and this extra trip should eke our improvement.

Of those who haven’t run, BO KAAP has a good flat bloodline, so you can expect him to be more precocious than some of their rivals.


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