14.25 Aintree 

The Tom George-trained BLACK OP (best price 15-8) was unable to make an impact in graded events last season but, having shown up well for a long way when seventh in the Cheltenham Gold Cup on his penultimate start, this former Grade 1 winner at this track could have too much class for this field. 

The ten-year-old is undoubtedly better than these at his best and was even good enough to win a Grade 1 over hurdles here in 2018, as well as finishing runner-up in the Grade 1 Kauto Star Novices' Chase over Christmas. He even got to within a length of Champ at Newbury in a Grade 2 and finished a creditable sixth in last year’s Grade 1 King George so his form, without question, is head and shoulders above what this field has achieved combined. Even though he hasn’t tasted success since 2019, the price tag about him is inflated and he gets the vote to make his first go in a veterans' chase a winning one on return to a course that plays to his strengths. 

I am also going to nominate WISHING AND HOPING (best price 15-2) as an each-way alternative, who’s a very capable horse on his day and his form figures in this sphere when completing reads an excellent 212121. He goes well for Alex Edwards, too, and has likely been targeted at this event. He showed great tenacity to give weight and a beating to the 145-rated Jatiluwih at Worcester when last spotted and that form is strong given the runner-up looks destined for big things in the hunter chase division. This eleven-year-old is often seen to best effect when allowed to dominate and, although this demands a career-best, this classy hunter chaser should be primed to run a big race. 

Black Op  - 2pts @ 15/8
Wishing and Hoping - 1pt e/w @ 15/2

15.00 Aintree 

The Jewson Monet's Garden Old Roan Limited Handicap Chase has attracted a good field as Aintree returns on Sunday including last year’s winner Nuts Well but trainer Dan Skelton has long had this race in mind for ALLMANKIND (best price 5-2) and his Grade 1 winner is taken to put these to the sword from the offset and continue his fine strike-rate over fences. 

He will probably set out to dominate this from the front and I believe he can do just that with even more to come in this sphere this term for connections. He took very well to this discipline last term, winning four of his five starts with his only defeat coming at the Cheltenham Festival. He produced a solid effort off top-weight to finish third over hurdles on his return and that should have put him spot on ahead of today’s assignment. This left-handed venue should, indeed, suit him very nicely and he’s already proven he stays this far having won a Grade 2 by nineteen-lengths over 2m4f at Ayr in April. He’ll have to shoulder 11-10Ib but he’s open to more improvement than most of these being only a five-year-old and this confirmed front-runner should make a bold bid. 

Allmankind - 2pts @ 5/2

15.20 Wincanton 

The very capable NEVERBEEN TO PARIS (best price 10-1) offered more encouragement when third under a big weight nineteen days ago and, now reunited with Bryony Frost, who was the last jockey to get a win out of this horse, he might be worth chancing at the prices, each-way, in the modest affair here. 

There’s a few in with chances, of course, but Pat Murphy’s charge has become very well-handicapped at present and it’s possible that the presence of Bryony Frost will reignite the fire in his belly. He bolted up in a chase last year off a mark of 122 and ran well in a pair of highly-competitive handicap hurdle events at Newbury, finishing third in a class-two in November before sixth back in March earlier this year. He’s sixteen-pounds lower now and a reproduction of that sort of form would bring him into the reckoning so he makes a bit of each-way appeal here.

Neverbeen To Paris - 1pt e/w @ 10/1

16.10 Aintree 

RIGGS (NAP) (best price 4-1) proved consistent since winning in November last year and looked set to collect until falling two out in April but has been given a break since and he may gain compensation from a mark that looks within his capabilities for the Skelton combination. 

The six-year-old has taken some time to get the hang of things over timber but opened his account impressively in November and went on to place in his next three outings including when second in the Grade 3 Novices' Handicap Hurdle Final. He looked set to get the better of the 131-rated Ask A Honey Bee until falling two out last time and a good break should have freshened him up, too. His mark of 128 looks extremely lenient and, providing he’s ready to roll, he must have strong claims with even more to offer this campaign.

Riggs - 2pts @ 4/1