The Perfect Ten

Aintree selections Saturday 9th April

National day has arrived at Aintree and the big race is due off at 5.15 with the usual maximum field of 40 expected. I have three selections for the feature and recommendations for three other races on an excellent supporting card. We had a couple of seconds with each-way bets yesterday, Fils D’Oudairies (SP 10/1) and Severance (advised 13/2).

Aintree 1.45: Dans le Vent & Winter Fog

A very trappy opener and two bets look required here.

DANS LE VENT holds no secrets from the handicapper, but was an impressive winner for us at Haydock in November on good ground over 3m and circumstances are identical today with ground, trip and track type. He has continued to run well all winter off a 1lb higher mark than today since, notably when third at Sandown in February on softer than ideal ground, and his tenth in the Coral Cup last month was a solid effort considering he hates heavy going.

WINTER FOG was probably also done no favours by the rain at Cheltenham, but confirmed himself to be a well handicapped horse when fourth in the Pertemps. He should have won a qualifier for that race at Leopardstown over Christmas, but hit the front too soon and was caught late on by Panda Boy. I think this flatter track will suit, as will the drier going and he looks unexposed based on what he has done since joining Emmet Mullins this season.

Aintree 3.00: Third Time Lucki

One of my long range fancies for Cheltenham, THIRD TIME LUCKI ended up taking a plan B campaign and missed the Festival altogether. That bodes well for his chances here as there is little doubt he is best fresh.

He had two impressive wins at Cheltenham in the autumn, travelling supremely well, but found the race coming too soon at Sandown behind Edwardstone, where he was also made too much use of. A facile Grade 2 win at Doncaster confirmed his class in January, but again he came out quickly and underperformed behind Edwardstone at Warwick. Now the shoe is on the other hoof and Edwardstone is the one who has to defy a hard race last time, whereas Third Time Lucki should be refreshed. This flat track might play to his speed strengths too.

Aintree 4.15: Shan Blue & Tea Clipper

It seems difficult to get away from SHAN BLUE even at short odds give he can race off the same mark of 148 as when about to trot up in the Charlie Hall a Wetherby before a fall three out. It was a bit of a rush getting him back for Cheltenham, a track he does not look greatly suited to anyway, so I am happy to overlook his mediocre effort behind the top class Allaho. Back on a flat track and in handicap company, this sharp 3m on drying ground should prove ideal.

TEA CLIPPER should also be suited by conditions and was a good fourth at Cheltenham on a track and trip that probably over taxed his stamina. An impressive listed winner on quick ground at Chepstow in the autumn, a recent wind op, cheekpieces and a sunny day should all combine in his favour to bring out the best in him once again.

Aintree 5.15: Any Second Now, Escaria Ten & Snow Leopardess

Another Irish dominated National could be on the cards and two of my three selections are part of another strong raiding party.

First choice is ESCARIA TEN, who looks an ideal type who has been trained all season with this in mind. He cruised through the majority of the Thyestes before getting tired on his first start of the season. He then gave ANY SECOND NOW a right race at Fairyhouse before losing in a photo. They race off similar terms today. Stamina should be no issue as he was a good third in the National Hunt Chase behind Galvin last year and he responded well to the blinkers last time. He has drifted to rewarding odds this morning, possibly as trainer Gordon Elliott has had little luck this week.

However Any Second Now also has to be considered given that fine trial. In addition he was extremely unlucky when third last year having made a mistake at the eleventh and then getting stopped to a standstill by a faller at the very next fence. To get into real contention jumping the last was a fine achievement and with better luck today he must be on the premises.

SNOW LEOPARDESS looks the best of the home team. A game winner of the Becher Chase here in December, she warmed up for this with a comfortable listed mares chase win at Exeter. Still only rated 146, the handicapper looks to have given her a real chance and provided she copes with slightly better ground, she should be in the mix throughout.

Recommended bets:

1pt each-way – Dans le Vent – 1.45 Aintree – 12/1 Bet365 (1/5 odds 1st 5)

1pt each-way – Winter Fog – 1.45 Aintree – 5/1 Betfred (1/5 odds 1st 6)

1pt each-way – Third Time Lucki – 3.00 Aintree – 5/1 general

1pt win – Shan Blue – 4.15 Aintree – 3/1 Bet365, Paddy Power

1pt each-way – Tea Clipper – 4.15 Aintree – 11/2 general (most bookies 1/5 odds 1st 5)

1pt each-way – Escaria Ten – 5.15 Aintree – 20/1 general (most bookies 1/5 odds 1st 6)

1pt each-way – Snow Leopardess – 5.15 Aintree – 11/1 Betfred (1/5 odds 1st 6)

0.5pts each-way – Any Second Now – 5.15 Aintree – 11/1 Betfred (1/5 odds 1st 6)

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