Race Time: 2.15pm Meeting: Aintree Day: Saturday 5th December Full Race Name: Betfred Lotto “£100K Cash Giveaway” Chase (Listed Race) Class One
What a cracker of a race we have in prospect as Don Poli (Evens) is diverted here (was engaged in the Becher Chase), and looks to make up for a frankly disappointing run when only fifth (of five) at Punchestown when last seen in April, though he may have needed a rest by then after a long season. After winning his first three races over fences including an easy six length victory at Cheltenham in the RSA Chase, he was (and still is) being talked up as a Gold Cup contender (currently 8/1), and if that is a realistic ambition he probably needs to win this even after 221 days off the track, perhaps with a bit in hand, though be warned, some of the Mullins horses have been improving for a run of late which is our only minor issue.
Meanwhile, Grand National winner Many Clouds (11/4) will try to carry eleven stone ten here today, and although that could be some task, he is not just a plodding stayer even though connections have ambitions of a repeat victory next April. Trainer Oliver Sherwood really is one of the nicest trainers we know, and reports the eight year old to be in great heart at home in Lambourn and ready to run his heart out this weekend. Possibly in need of the run when only sixth to Cue Card at Wetherby, he was attempting to give the winner ten pounds that day, and as the winner went on to take the Betfair Chase, it may not have ben as poor as it looked at first glance, and we may well be quite happy to assume the appropriate improvement is forthcoming and he will be involved in the finish here.
Menorah (11/1) is now a ten year old and may not have too many more wins left in him, but punters are inclined to forget his true abilities and he pops up now and again in these races at a decent price. Seven wins from twenty-three starts over fences is a remarkable return, and includes a win here (as well as two second places), so we also know he likes the track, though his return at Wetherby when pulled up behind Cue Card takes some forgiving. There may be excuses for that run, and they do get harder to get fit as they get older, and if he does improve he may yet get involved this afternoon, and at a huge price as well.
As things stand Paul Nicholls will be sending Southfield Theatre (13/2) here, and although he will need to improve to reverse Cheltenham form with Don Poli, he is only seven and may have more to offer. His last of three to Coneygree was shocking (beaten forty-four lengths), but he made the mistake of trying to live with the front running Gold Cup winner that day which may well have been his undoing, and if the Champion trainer thinks he is worth a shout, then he may run a better race than his official rating of 154 suggests.