The Aintree Festival is one of the undoubted highlights of the National Hunt calendar and, whilst Saturday’s Grand National is the massive focal point, there are lots of other great races over the three days.
The highlight of Thursday’s card, day 1 of the festival, is arguably the Doom Bar Aintree Hurdle (3.25pm) which brings together the likes of the Champion Hurdle 2nd and 4th, Arctic Fire and Jezki, and last year’s runner-up Rock On Ruby. It should be a thrilling clash – and you can read the low down on all the 7 runners below, and our tip for the race,
A seriously hard to way up as he’s won just 2 of his 12 races and seems to like to prefer to get placed rather than win, though in finishing runner-up on his last two runs behind Hurricane Fly (Irish Champion Hurdle) and Faugheen (Champion Hurdle) it is easy to see why he’s been installed as favourite. Yet to try this 20-furlong trip having done his racing over 2-miles; and his style of racing doesn’t convince that he’ll improve for it.
Looks to have been specifically targeted at this after running some cracking races over 2-miles, though it’s hard to see him improving enough to win unless all the principals have an off day. Hopefully his front-running style will ensure this is a true run race though.
Won on his only attempt at the trip but only defeated Zaidpour, and the 2014 Champion Hurdler is another I’m sure would prefer to have been running over 2-miles.
Won 8 out of 11 races over 2-mile, but has failed dismally each time he’s been stepped up to this sort of trip. Also a little short of being top-class and has tried his hand at chasing this season.
Rock On Ruby
Third in this to dual winner Oscar Whiskey after winning the 2012 Champion Hurdle, and then was a neck second to The New One in last year’s renewal, which is top-class form in anyone’s book. He’s also been in excellent form this year in winning twice at Cheltenham over this sort of trip. Vulnerable if one of the higher-rated horses truly stays.
Was receiving 5lb when over 2 lengths behind Rock On Ruby earlier in the season at Cheltenham and there’s nothing to suggest he should reverse places here.
Volnay De Thaix
Finished roughly as far behind Rock On Ruby as his stable-mate Vaniteux, though was running off equal weights. Can’t see him winning but could see out the trip better than some of the others.
This may be left to last year’s runner-up Rock On Ruby who is proven over the course and distance and has been in better form this year, with Jezki feared most ahead of Arctic Fire.
Rock On Ruby 3 points win @ 10/3 Paddy Power