Global Citizen was impressive last time in the Dovecote at Kempton and looks the one to beat here @ 2/1. His nine length defeat of Scarlet Dragon, himself not without a chance @ 8/1, was impressive and given improvement, should be thereabouts. Vision Des Flos ran well in the Ballymore, just finding the trip too far and this drop back to an extended two miles should suit and he is serious contender @ 6/1. Irish Roe had improved throughout the winter before finding the Betfair Hurdle one step too far last time but if returning to previous form she would have to be considered @ 20/1. No four year old has won this in recent times but Nicky Henderson enters Style De Garde who is improving and ran a cracker in the Fred Winter at Cheltenham. He can be involved @ 14/1.
Terrefort boasts the best level of form following his second to Shattered Love at Cheltenham but there is no guarantee that he will stay the three miles with this looking a fairly open race. Black Corton has had an amazing season but went a little too quick at Cheltenham paying the price up the hill, this track will suit and if all his excursions have not taken their toll, has to be a player @ 8/1. Elegant Escape has some close form linked to Black Corton and stayed on into third in the RSA and with no Presenting Percy or Monalee here, has to be considered @ 11/2. Ms Parfois produced a big effort when just missing out in the four miler at Cheltenham and if that has not left its mark, will be staying on strongly at the finish @ 6/1. Coo Star Sivola won well in the Ultima at Cheltenham and has an obvious chance here @ 7/1 if finding a little improvement while Testify is talented and can bounce back from his flop last time and go well @ 28/1.
This looks a match between Ryanair winner Balko Des Flos and Champion Chase second, Min. Balko Des Flos @ 9/4 is on an upward curve and will relish the trip and ground, similarly Min @ 6/4 can improve again but is slight unknown over this trip, at this level. Politologue has the ability to trouble the two principals but ran poorly at Cheltenham and now fitted with a hood and tongue-tie, has one or two questions to answer. The reliable Cloudy Dream will no doubt run his race again @ 12/1 but he will likely again be found wanting in this grade and place money is all he can hope for.
The first and fourth form last year, Ultragold and O O Seven line up again with Ultragold only five pounds higher and he can go well @ 18/1. O O Seven on the other hand has to shoulder a big weight which may just be his undoing, likewise Top Gamble looks the type to be suited by these fences but again the big weight may tell on him at the business end. The Waley-Cohen owner/jockey combination have fared well over the years at this course and in Theatre Territory they have another live contender. The worry is that she has only won one race in fourteen attempts and though she has some good form in behind the likes of Mr Whittaker and Ms Parfois, the win ratio casts doubt. Bouvreuil too has only won twice from twenty six starts but was tenth in this race last year and could improve on that while Willie Mullins’ Polidam is an intriguing runner @ 12/1 and will be relatively fresh having been off since February, now returning following a wind operation. At bigger prices Mystifiable and Midnight Shot are worth a second look in what is a bit of a minefield as far as betting goes.
Nicky Henderson has a very strong hand in this race with Santini, OK Corral and Chef Des Obeaux. Santini stets a very good standard on his defeat of Black Op in January but seemed to struggle with the three miles at Cheltenham and he may be worth taking on at a short 2/1. Ok Corral @ 11/4 has done nothing but improve and should be involved at the finish but cannot afford to hang like he did at Cheltenham especially with this wide open straight. The third representative from Seven Barrows is Chef Des Obeaux and if he can resume his upward curve following his disappointing effort at Cheltenham, he should be in with a shout. Tower Bridge ran well in the Albert Bartlett and should be on the shortlist as should improving mare Roksana @ 14/1 while Uppertown Prince, Sam’s Gunner and Point Of Principle can all go well at big prices.
Quickened Clear’s Best Bets:
Spiritofthegames – 1.45 Aintree – 1pt win @ 10/1
Spiritofthegames has been consistent in three top handicaps this season and produced his best performance over a similar trip to this in the Lanzarote at Kempton. He goes well at sharp tracks and this looks race does not look as strong as those he has previously contested and is worth a bet @ 10/1.
Vision Des Flos – 2.20 Aintree – 1pt win @ 5/1
The improving Vision Des Flos went for home two out in the Ballymore only to find the trip on the stiff side. Global Citizen will be all the rage but on Quickened Clear’s figures he still needs to improve to win this and with Vision Des Flos seemingly happiest around two miles, is a good bet @ 5/1 with the Tizzard and Power double act hard to ignore at Aintree.
Roksana – 4.40 Aintree – 1pt win @ 14/1
Nicky Henderson fires three big guns at this, not least Santini and OK Corral but the value lies with improving mare Roksana @ 14/1 having won well at Newbury last time in the grade two novice hurdle final. That looked to be it for the season for her but she is held in high regard and it is very intriguing that Dan Skelton opts for a tilt at this race.