2.50 SILVER CROSS STAYERS HURDLE (GRADE 1) – 3 MILES 110 YDS
COLE HARDEN saw a good few of these off at Cheltenham and is taken to confirm that form here.
He put in a brave front running performance when seeing off the likes of Zarkandar, Jetson, and Blue Fashion. He is very likely to improve for this better ground as Warren Greatrex continues to go from strength to strength. Gavin Sheehan gets on well with the six year old and they should be able to put in another strong effort.
Whisper won this race last year and comes here looking to defend his crown. He does have 10 lengths to find with the selection, but he should be able to make up some of that on this flatter track. Nico De Boinville replaces the injured Barry Geraghty in the saddle, but he has won on him before and they command respect.
The likes of Un Temps Pour Tout and Henryville are talented handicappers, but both endured tough races at Cheltenham and are overlooked on this occasion. Cole Harden can continue to improve and it will be no surprise of he follows up that recent win here.
3.00 CORAL.CO.UK HANDICAP – 1 M 4 F
GOLD TRAIL likes it around Lingfield and he was only just touched off here on his most recent outing when beaten a nose by a reformed Hurricane Higgins.
This return to a mile and a half ought to be in his favour and stable jockey William Buick takes over from Ryan Moore in the saddle. This is a career high mark for the four year old to contend with, but he clearly acts well on the polytrack surface and he has to be high on any shortlist.
Trip To Paris should improve on what was his first outing in almost six months at Kempton last time. He actually beat the selection in a race last season, but Gold Trail has improved since then. Ed Dunlop got his charge to win over this trip at Ascot last summer and now that he is fully fit after that recent spin he has to rate as a big danger. Afonso De Sousa and Jacob Cats are unproven at the track whilst Storm Force Ten represents an in form Andrew Balding and he could sneak a place off bottom weight. Charlie Appleby has had his string in excellent form all season and Gold Trail sets a high standard.
4.15 CRABBIES GRAND NATIONAL – 4 M 3F
CHANCE DU ROY was a decent sixth in this race last year and has now dropped below his last winning mark.
He has completed the course in five out of six previous visits here and is once again reunited with Tom O’ Brien. He has been on board for six out of his eight career victories. He has only had two runs this season and both came in competitive handicaps here and at Exeter.
Those efforts should have left him in peak shape and it would be of little surprise to see him at least manage a place on a track that clearly suits.
Shutthefrontdoor would be a fitting winner for AP McCoy as his fantastic career draws to a close. He will no doubt be sent off as favourite on the day and Jonjo O’Neill is likely to have him primed to run a huge race. Shutthefrontdoor is a previous winner of the Irish Grand National and horses that win that race tend to run well here also.
Despite not being seen since last November he has to rate as a threat to all. Balthazar King skipped Cheltenham in order to come here and that decision has to be respected. He was an excellent runner up in this last season and Richard Johnson gets on well with him. He usually goes well fresh and he too commands utmost respect. Chance Du Roy looks a massive price in comparison and given the fact that he gets weight from the vast majority of his rivals he certainly commands a second look and he could run a huge race.
Aintree 2.50 Cole Harden
Lingfield 3.00 Gold Trail
Aintree 4.15 Chance Du Roy