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Dublin: 14 °C Monday 3 August, 2020

Five horses to light up the Aintree Festival

There’s plenty to look forward to, away from the National, over the next few days.

Horses on the gallops at Aintree Racecourse today.
Horses on the gallops at Aintree Racecourse today.
Image: Paul Harding

Glen Forsa

Thursday 1.45, Manifesto Novices’ Chase

Glen Forsa is normally an assured jumper and Johnny Burke would certainly love another go at the Arkle. His unseat at the fourth looked soft, the upside is that Glen Forsa arrives at Aintree fresh given that early exit at Cheltenham. The opposition is strong in the shape of La Bague Au Roi who won a grade one at the Dublin Racing Festival and skipped Cheltenham.

The mare will ensure it is a true test as she likes to front run. Glen Forsa can race prominently too but was covered up in the Arkle so could might get a tow into the race from La Bague a Roi. It will be tactically fascinating and if Burke plays a waiting game with Glen Forsa he can beat the mare for speed rather than get dragged into a slog.

Band of Outlaws

Thursday 2.20, Doom Bar Anniversary juvenile hurdle

The Fred Winter winner is stepping into graded company from a handicap for the first time, but it’s not before time. Band of Outlaws got a 10-pound penalty for winning at the festival. That was far from an overreaction by the assessor, given the horse won more easily than the winning distance suggests.

He faces the Triumph winner here, but given the way that race turned out with Sir Erec exiting early, the form may not be that strong. Band of Outlaws is a quality flat horse and could have more ability than the rest of this field over obstacles too. Joseph O’Brien’s talented and versatile juvenile can continue his ascent in the jumping ranks here.


Thursday 2.50, Betway Bowl

Willie Mullins ran four horses in the Gold Cup, three failed to complete and the other won. Kemboy was the earliest to exit, unseating at the opening obstacle. The son of Voix du Nord also came down in the Irish National but in the four runs in between all he did was win.

The manner of victory at Leopardstown over Christmas could not have been any more impressive and if anything the flatter Aintree track should suit better than Cheltenham. Ruby Walsh taking the ride for only the second time in Kemboy’s 14 runs is another positive. Kemboy arrives here fresh and this looks an ideal opportunity to get back in the winning groove.


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Friday 2.50, Betway Mildmay Novices’ Chase

2019 Cheltenham Festival - Ladies Day - Cheltenham Racecourse Topofthegame ridden by jockey Harry Cobden (centre) wins the RSA Insurance Novices' Chase during Ladies Day of the 2019 Cheltenham Festival at Cheltenham. Source: Paul Harding

The RSA at Cheltenham looked to be a very strong renewal with the trainers of the top three in the market all being bullish about their chances pre race. Topofthegame will not face opposition quite as stiff as Santini and Delta Work on Friday although stepping Lostintranslation up to three miles will be fascinating.

Topofthegame showed stamina in abundance at Cheltenham prompting comparisons with former Dicheat inmate Denman. Paul Nicholls charge announced himself as a 2020 Gold Cup contender in the RSA, he can confirm that promise with a win in the Betway Milmay chase on Friday.


Saturday Betway Mersey Novices’ Hurdle or the Sefton on Friday at 4.40

In a relatively short training career so far Warren Greatrex has sourced some very good animals and more importantly won races with them. Unlike so many of his peers, he is not a slave to Cheltenham.

Emitom is unbeaten so far and is an exciting potential future star, most likely as a chaser. He missed his intended prep due to the flu suspension, so not an ideal preparation. Aintree will be his first step into graded company but he has carried penalties to win lesser events, suggesting he is well up to graded class whether he runs in the Sefton or the Mersey hurdle will depend on the ground. Three miles on decent ground at this flat track looks ideal.

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