4.20pm Aintree Tips & Betting Preview 09/04/2016

4.20pm Aintree – Betfred Handicap Chase (Listed Race) Class One – 3m 210yds

Why they put on a really tough handicap chase just before the Grand National is anybody’s guess but they do, and it will certainly take some solving. Our starting point is simple enough – we really like the each way chances of Tom George’s Cernunnos (8/1) sits nicely nearer to the bottom than the top of the weights for trainer Tom George and has the assistance of Mark Walsh in the saddle. A real baby in chasing terms at the tender age of six, he has form against his elders and betters at Kempton as well as a win at Leicester and being ex French he has plenty of experience with ten races over the larger obstacles in total for two wins four seconds and a third. He has been put up three pounds for his last run when he finished runner up to Portway Flyer who was receiving seventeen pounds, running on strongly over the two and a half miles plus. That run gives us every hope that he will improve again for the step up in trip this afternoon  which he has yet to even attempt, and with his admirable consistency and the probability of more to come, we are more than happy to nominate him as our each way option here.

Coologue (9/1) looked likely to be nearer to the head the market and is also admirably consistent – but then again that has seen his weight rise six pounds since his last victory which won’t make life that easy for him. Last time out he was runner up to Presenting Arms on his fourth consecutive visit to Doncaster, only beaten half a length over two miles three furlongs, but back up in trip he seems sure to go well, though whether he is good value is a different question for a yard with a lot more places than victories in recent weeks and away from what appears to be his favourite track.

There is every possibility that the value may yet lay with top weight Virak (16/1), trained by current Champion trainer Paul Nicholls and to be ridden by Harry Cobden who is good value for his five-pound claim. Admittedly he has failed to win a race in five runs since April last year, but he has finished second on three occasions and with the handicapper finally relenting, all be it only a couple of pounds, he may well run in to a place at a big price, and at least arrives here nice and fresh having not run in public since late February, avoiding the hurly burly of Cheltenham.

Looking for horses of each way interest and Mick Channon has his horses firing on all cylinders leaving Knock House (9/1) with a pretty solid chance.  As we write Nina Carberry has been booked to ride the seven-year-old who has been in pretty consistent form this season with wins and places at Fakenham and Cheltenham and was a superb fourth to Cause Of Causes in the Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Chase at the Festival (with Nina on board), only beaten eighteen lengths or so, yet put down a pound by a handicapper who must have been in a generous mood. He has won off a mark just three pounds lower which suggests he has chances today, and with the track quite likely to play to his strengths he looks pretty sensible early each value.

The Fergal O’Brien trained Mystifiable (6/1) gets in near the bottom of the weights, and he could run a big race here as he is another who just keeps in improving and staying one small step ahead of the handicapper. Just the three career starts over fences suggest he could still have a bit more to offer at the age of eight, and having won his last two at Leicester and Newbury he could hardly be in better form. He has been put up a stone for his last win which was with his head in his chest, but we think they are hoping the step up to three miles will negate that punishment and expect a decent run regardless.

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