The Aintree Mares' Bumper has been the target all winter for Le Bague Au Roi (Thursday, 5.15) and we couldn’t be happier with the shape she’s in. It looks like the ground won’t be any worse than good to soft on the opening day and that will be perfect for our mare – I would have been a little concerned if it had come up very soft. She’s unbeaten in three starts and they didn’t see which way she went at Huntingdon last time, so she’s clearly got an engine and she’s got experience of this track, so everything is in place for her. There are a few in there that deserve respect but we have always thought the world of this horse and I wouldn’t swap her for anything.

Out Sam (Friday, 2.50) was never in the race at Cheltenham but I was really encouraged by the way he stuck to his task and finished. He was never able to lay up with those more experienced handicappers on ground that was no worse than good, but he’s come out of the race really well – I don’t actually think he had that hard a race, funnily enough. He’s back in novice company at Aintree and the ground will be a bit softer so I think they will go that half a yard slower and that will really help him. He’s got a bit of work on strictly on the ratings but you never know how some horses will run after having hard races at Cheltenham, so it’s well worth a shot.

We purposely avoided Cheltenham with Ma Du Fou (Friday, 1.40) so that we could come here with a fresh horse and I’m quite hopeful about this fellow. He’s been trained for this race and he won’t mind at all whichever way the ground goes. He’s straightforward so Gavin [Sheehan] won’t have to go forward with him if he feels the pace is too strong, he can do whatever he wants with him. He won’t have as much experience as some of his rivals but he showed at Huntingdon that he knows how to battle and dig in when he has to, and he’s definitely improved again since then. He should run very well.

Boite (Saturday, 6.05) runs in the last race on Saturday, a 2m handicap hurdle for amateur riders, and he will be ridden by Harry Bannister. It’s a competitive race but he ran a cracker at Newbury on his first run back, on ground that wouldn’t have been ideal for him, and he is going to have improved from that. The ground could be quite testing by then if they get the rain that is forecast, which is a slight concern, but this is a horse with more to offer over hurdles and he has the advantage of coming into this completely fresh, unlike so many of his rivals. We have kept him back for a spring campaign and he is likely to run on the Flat again this summer.
Le Bague Au Roi - 1pt @ 2/1