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Saturday 4 February 2023 Dublin: 9°C
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# Ladies Day
Mark Your Card: Aintree Day 2
It’s Ladies Day in Liverpool, so Mark Hobbs has slapped on the fake tan and slipped into a pair of high heels.

THE MELLING CHASE is a worthy headlining race in Aintree this afternoon, and promises to be an incredibly competitive affair.

Six of the 10 runners can be backed at single-figure prices which really points to the openness of the contest.

Last year’s victor Alberta’s Run comes here off the back of a second victory in the Ryanair Chase at the Cheltenham Festival. The 10-year-old endured a poor start to the season when clearly not enjoying the winter ground, but he really comes into his own at this time of year and he has shown over the past few seasons what an excellent performer he is on a decent surface. Two-and-a-half miles appears to be his ideal trip, and it’s difficult to imagine Tony McCoy’s mount not being involved at the business end.

Kalahari King was a close second at Cheltenham after sprouting wings late on to narrow the gap with the eventual winner. While the manner in which he came home was visually impressive, he didn’t appear to suffer a hard-luck story and there’s no obvious reason why he should reverse that form.

Somersby and Master Minded come here from the Champion Chase, and both could well benefit from the step up in trip. Somersby appeared to lack the gears for the minimum distance on spring ground, and while he is entitled to improve it is also a worry that he failed to sparkle at this meeting last year after a tough race at Cheltenham.

Master Minded finished at a crawl last time out, but he may well have placed if it hadn’t been for a dreadful mistake late on. Paul Nicholls has been talking of aiming the seven-time Grade One winner at the King George next season, so he must feel that today’s extra distance will be within the horse’s range. He may not be as awesome as in his early days in England, but he is still one of the best chasers around and must be a threat.

The Irish raider Tranquil Sea is the only one of the line-up that didn’t compete at Cheltenham, so he may well be keeping an eye on if his freshness brings about some improvement.

On the supporting card, the Mildmay Novice’s Chase will be the first opportunity to test the form of the RSA, where Wayward Prince was a very close third. He’s of considerable interest in this contest where some of the beaten horses re-oppose, especially considering he took the novices’ three mile race here last year. That feat was achieved after bypassing Cheltenham, so it remains to be seen whether he can handle Aintree after a busy season.

The Sefton Novice’s Hurdle looks a relatively weak affair, and Back in Focus is intriguing after taking a Grade Two from Champion Court on debut. He should find plenty of improvement.

Nap of the Day

At 4/1 Alberta’s Run has a lot in his favour. He won the race last year, has beaten most of the horses already, and will love the conditions. It’s a very competitive race, and he is by no means a certainty; but at the prices he has to be backed.

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Each Way

It’s quite a tricky card and in every race it’s possible to make claims for many runners at fancy prices. In the Topham Chase Scotsirish has been very much over-priced at 20/1. He now races off a pound lower than last year when he came second, and there’s no reason to be believe that he has regressed. His last two performances have been a little underwhelming, but he finished within three lengths of Big Zeb at Leopardstown at Christmas and is undoubtedly the class horse of the race. It won’t be easy carrying a mammoth weight, but if he jumps like he did last year he will have every chance.

Thoughts For the Day

It was a pity to see Denman perform so poorly yesterday, but I don’t think that it has diminished his reputation. It was sporting of his owner to run him at a track that wasn’t sure to suit, and it was probably at least partially motivated by the tide of goodwill that went the horse’s way after Cheltenham. Horses can’t run under their ideal conditions all the time, and usually racing fans complain that we don’t get to see the sport’s leading stars often enough. Connections were brave but weren’t rewarded. It doesn’t change what the horse has already achieved.