Race Time: 3.05pm Meeting: Aintree Day: Saturday 7th November
Distance: 2m 3f 200yds Full Race Name: Betfred “Scoop6soccer” Handicap Chase Class Two
Plenty of the top yards look all set to be represented here, though just the one winning favourite in the last ten years suggests this may not be that easy to solve after all! If she turns out then the Venetia Williams trained Pepite Rose (8/1) is the class act, but would have to carry eleven stone twelve for her sins despite an absence since finishing fourth to Menorah at Sandown last April. Now an eight year old she has won over this sort of trip but also stays further, though she has had two starts here at the home of the Grand National without even placing in either. At the time of writing the yard have had three consecutive winners and four in the last eighteen for a 22% strike rate so we know they are in good heart, though the big weight and long absence has to be of some concern for her backers today.
Upepito (9/4) is an interesting runner and one that may be ignored with the less well known Bridget Andrews in the saddle- and taking a valuable five pounds off the back of the seven year old gelding who was already reasonably weighted. Trained by Dan Skelton, his two wins from fifteen starts over fences isn’t that impressive BUT his jockey has a five from 25 record in handicap chases in the last five years (or 20% strike rate), which compares more than just favourably with her male rivals!
Finding a horse that has won a race off then handicap mark they have been set today proved pretty tricky, but De Boitron (9/1) fits the bill for trainer Sue Smith even at the ripe old age of eleven. Although pretty clearly on a downward spiral his rating is at least dropping to a workable mark of 133 and he could yet pull off one last surprise, having won off as high as 138, all be it in December 2013! He will need to recapture his youth (and we would all like to do that), which does seem unlikely in the circumstances, but you can never be 100% sure in this game and all things are possible.
Charlie Pogson trains Minella Forfitness (8/1) who is the only course winner and distance winner in the field, and had a nice little pipe opener at Fakenham when runner up to Katgary in mid October. He is still officially a novice and is yet to really match his hurdling exploits over the larger obstacles but they persevere regardless and if he gets his act together he may well go mighty close this afternoon. Over the smaller obstacles he would be well in here off a rating of 133 but we all know how risky it is taking hurdling form to fences, but he is worthy of a look at a price with his added fitness edge.
To end with, Philip Hobbs has a few entered at this early stage but they seem to be headed by Ballygarvey (8/1) who is another who arrives with a race under his belt when he finished sixth to Astracad at Chepstow. Now a nine year old, he looked as if he needed the run that day and was pretty easy to back as well, but at his best he was capable of winning at ascot when seeing off decent yardstick Ulck Du Lin and although he is another that might be a bit better over the minimum trip of two miles, he still makes the shortlist here and is worthy of serious consideration.