An iconic National Hunt racecourse will play host to a style show like you’d rarely see at Aintree on Friday, as Ladies Day is set to attract another stellar crowd on day two of the annual three day spectacle. With four Grade 1 races on the seven-race card, top class action is very much the order of the afternoon when we set aside the fashion stakes, but the first race is a Grade 3 Handicap Hurdle, kicking off Ladies Day at 1.45pm.
Likely favourite in the opender is Joseph O’Brien’s Early Doors, who was well backed in the Martin Pipe at Cheltenham and justified the support with an excellent run in 3rd. A 1lb rise is fair, but this is arguably a trickier assignment and the form of that race has taken a knock with Blow By Blow well beaten at Fairyhouse. Nicky Henderson is sure to have a runner or two here and STOWAWAY MAGIC is one to note if taking his chance. This 7yo ran a blinder in the Coral Cup at Cheltenham and could go very well again off the same mark. One more to note is Oliver Sherwood’s progressive EUXTON LANE.
This 6yo by Getaway followed up a 17 length maiden hurdle win at Fontwell in early March, with another handsome victory over De Rasher Counter & Molineaux – two useful sorts – at Newbury a couple of weeks later. He is clearly going the right way and will handle testing ground better than most, like many of Sherwood’s string.
At 2.20pm, the £100,000 Grade 1 Top Novices’ Hurdle looks to be at the mercy of Ben Pauling’s very exciting GLOBAL CITIZEN. Two out of four over hurdles thus far, this well-related (bro to A Hare’s Breath, half-bro De Plotting Shed) has picked up his game to a high quality level of late, particularly when slamming his rivals in a good time in the Grade 2 Dovecote at Kempton at the end of February. Connections have seen fit to avoid the Cheltenham Festival in favour of Aintree and that has to be respected. He’d probably prefer better ground than is likely on Friday, but there’s little getting away from his credentials.
The 2.50pm Mildmay Novices’ Chase over 3m1f is going to be a real test of stamina for these novices and several here would prefer spring ground, including Mia’s Storm and Black Corton from toward the top of the market. Terrefort will be hard to beat if he takes his chance here instead of Thursday’s race over shorter, but will he stay? National Hunt Chase runner-up MS PARFOIS is a staying chaser going places and she could easily make her presence felt. To mention one outsider, Jamie Snowdon’s Hogan’s Height has run to a fair level this season and soft ground is important to him, so connections might be tempted to let him take him chance and if he does, the in-form 7yo comes here on a four-timer and is not to be underestimated.
Doom Bar sponsor the final Grade 1 race on Ladies Day in the Sefton Novices’ Hurdle over an extended three miles. The race always throws up some very smart staying chasers of the future and this year, SANTINI stands out for Nicky Henderson if coming out of Cheltenham in good form. He was given a lot to do on very deep ground and although never looking like the winner, he certainly left the impression there will be other big days in him and plenty of them if he keeps progressing. Indeed, Santini got going late this season and comes here on only his four career start, so it isn’t unreasonable to expect some further improvement. The 6yo son of Milan will make a smashing chaser come the fall of the year, but the Sefton looks an ideal race to close out his novice hurdling campaign.
You can read more from Kevin O’Malley and find the latest form, racecards, free tips, news on GG.CO.UK.
Odds are provided at time of writing, please check your betslip to confirm they have not changed before betting.