Le Prezien has improved all season and was 3l too strong for The Dutchman at Kelso last time, while the tough and genuine Flying Angel should also have a shot at the forecast berth after performing with credit in two tough handicaps recently.
Different Gravey proved just that on his return at Ascot where he sauntered to victory but he is as yet unproven at the trip and could be vulnerable if the rains arrive over today’s distance so Shaneshill, who returns to hurdles, maybe a better value price to follow home the favourite.
5.15 Aintree - Grand National
Trainer Tony Martin has deservedly earned a reputation for bringing horses to the boil for big festival handicaps and, although he has endured a quieter season than normal to date, there have been signs of a renaissance in recent days.
Martin’s son of Oscar appeared on the radar for this race 12 months ago when an eye-catching performance in a Cheltenham festival handicap preceded a sparkling Punchestown success.
It could be said that the selection has undergone a ‘typical’ Martin preparation in that he hasn’t been seen over fences that often this season in a bid to protect his handicap mark. There were flashes that he was returning to something like his best form at Naas last time when he travelled nicely into the race before fading and he should be cherry ripe this afternoon.
McManus also boasts excellent claims with SHUTTHEFRONTDOOR ((Best price 18-1) as he bids to add the National to victories for On The Fringe in the Fox Hunters’ Chase and Eastlake (Topham Chase) this week. Fifth in the race last year when not seeming to quite see out the four-and-a-half miles, Shutthefrontdoor has recovered from the abscess that was found to be troubling him at Newbury last time and is reported in great form at home.
A slight negative to his chance would be the possibility of an overnight deluge, but his experience of the track should stand him in good stead and it is perhaps interesting that Barry Geraghty, on board Eastlake for Jonjo O’Neill, prefers his chance to the other three McManus runners.