Silviniaco Conti would have been in-line for an unprecedented hat-trick of Betfair bowls, but connections have decided to take their chance in the Grand National instead, leaving the door open for a new champion on the role of honour.
The winner will have to jump 19 fences and stay the 3-mile 1-furlong trip. Meanwhile, Paul Nicholls has trained 3 of the last 6 winners, whilst David Pipe has trained two winners and Jonjo O’Neill one winner in the last decade.
All horses carry 11-7, whilst 8-year-olds have won 4 of the last 10 renewals, whilst 7-year-olds, 9-year-olds and 10-year-olds have won 2 each.
This year, 9 runners are set to go to post.
Cue Card 5/4
A winner over hurdles at Aintree, he’s finished second both starts over fences here when behind the mighty Sprinter Sacre and this year’s Gold Cup winner Don Cossack. May well have took his revenge on Don Cossack but for falling at Cheltenham, and looks the form pick if that fall hasn’t caused any problems.
Runner-up in the last 2 Gold Cups, and connections will be pleased with all the recent rain. Finished in front of Don Poli at Cheltenham and, having won twice at Leopardstown, there’s no reason that Aintree won’t suit him.
Don Poli 11/2
Seemed to get outpaced in the Gold Cup and, though he beat Many Clouds here earlier in the season, he may again find that Djakadam and Cue Card, who both like to race prominently, have too much pace for him.
Second to Silviniaco Conti two years ago, but hasn’t looked as good in his most recent starts.
Houblon Des Obeaux 40/1
Back to form at Newbury last time, and connections obviously though he was poorly handicapped in the Grand National. Would need this to be a mudbath to have a realistic chance, and that still probably wouldn’t be enough to see him home in front.
Irish Cavalier 28/1
Trainer Rebecca Curtis has been in fine form this week, but finished well-behind Djakdam when fifth in the Gold Cup. Fell when 8/1 in the novice race won by Saphir Du Rheu last year.
Saphir Du Rheu 16/1
Won the 3-mile novice at last year’s meeting by 15-lengths, but needs a career best performance to even get near the market principals, but achieved that win after also running in the World Hurdle.
Taquin Du Seuil 33/1
Never run at Aintree, but has plenty of winning form on flat left-handed tracks. However, most of that form has been at around 2½ miles.
Big improver on first three runs of the season, but course form reads 7/4/4, and was 38 lengths behind Saphir du Rheu last year.
If Cue Card, Djakadam and Don Poli run-up to their best they will probably finish first, second and third. However, Cue Card had a tough fall at Cheltenham, and Don Poli ran poorly post-Cheltenham after a tough race the previous season. Djakadam ran well after an even more gruelling Gold Cup last year, and may be the pick of the first three in the betting, whilst each-way players may consider Saphir Du Rheu who ran very well as a novice when winning at last year’s meeting.