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The Mandarin’s Aintree Racecard for Thursday 11th April 2024

The Mandarin’s Aintree Racecard for Thursday 11th April

Close Brothers Manifesto Novices’ Chase (Grade 1) 1.45
Grey Dawning
The Skelton brothers can get off to a winning start at Aintree with Grey Dawning, who lines up here on the hat-trick after wins at Warwick and Cheltenham. At Warwick, he demolished the field on soft ground, before stepping smoothly up to Grade 1 level in the Turners’ Novices’ Chase at Cheltenham where he proved just too strong for the re-opposing Ginny’s Destiny, again on deep going. Willie Mullins’s classy Il Etait Temps rates the main danger after a fine third in the Arkle, and might prefer this flatter track, while Ginny’s Destiny still needs to find a couple of lengths on the selection. Grey Dawning has only failed to complete once, which was here last year when falling in the Sefton, but is otherwise eight wins from twelve starts and hard to oppose for the in-form Skelton team

Boodles Anniversary 4-Y-O Juvenile Hurdle (Grade 1) 2.20
Kargese should find track and conditions ideal for her second stab at Grade 1 honours. A close second to stablemate Majborough in the Triumph at the Cheltenham Festival, this French import won’t be minding the cut in the ground here, and with Nicky Henderson’s Seven Barrows yard trying to sail free from The Doldrums, Sir Gino has to raise the foremast to lead the revival of fortunes. Meanwhile, Willie Mullins can put more pressure on Paul Nicholls and Dan Skelton in the race for the British Trainers’ Championship, if scoring here with Kargese. Kalif Du Berlais lines up for Paul Nicholls, while Dan Skelton sits this one out. Kargese to score for Ireland and Willie Mullins

William Hill Bowl Chase (Grade 1) 2.55
Gerri Colombe (nap)
The Aintree Bowl can go to Irish raider Gerri Colombe, winner of the Mildmay at last year’s meeting. This time he takes on defending champion Shiskin, though his season has been a bit up and down with a refusal to race and an unseat spoiling the formbook, until some redemption at Newbury Park when landing the Denman Chase in February. No appearance at Cheltenham for Shiskin, and with the ground sure to remain pretty deep, Ahoy Senor looks a bigger threat for the home side, while Corbetts Cross showed at Cheltenham that there’s plenty of stamina in his young legs. Gerri Colombe can go one better than in the Gold Cup at Cheltenham, with fellow Irish raider Corbetts Cross chasing him home

William Hill Aintree Hurdle (Grade 1) 3.30
Bob Olinger (nb)
Brilliant at Cheltenham, where he is three from three on Prestbury Park, he didn’t quite have to pace to take on State Man in the Irish Champion Hurdle at Leopardstown in February. However, back up in trip to two and a half miles, Bob Olinger looks sure to start favourite for Grade 1 glory at Aintree, and should be sharper on this flatter track for the last run at Leopardstown. Home hopes lie with Dan Skelton’s Langer Dan, so impressive when taking the Coral Cup for the second time at the Cheltenham Festival, but this is a Grade 1 so needs more, while Nicky Henderson’s progressive mare, Luccia, also finds herself in deeper waters despite receiving plenty of weight. Bob Olinger to score with fellow Irish raider, Impaire Et Passe to give him the most bother

Randox Foxhunters’ Open Hunters Chase 4.05
Its On The Line
Unlucky not to win the Challenge Cup Hunters Chase at Cheltenham when the line couldn’t come soon enough, Its On The Line can go one better here. He got as as far as the tenth fence, Bechers Brook, in this race last year, so with a better bit of luck over these particular fences should be right there at the business end of things. With last years’ winner, Famous Clermont not in the line-up, Willie Mullins’s Annamix could give the selection the most to think about, but the grey is prone to the odd error so comes with risks attached, while home hopes lie with Dan Skelton’s Bennys King. Its On The Line to be first through the line this time for Emmet Mullins, in another Irish rout

Close Brothers Red Rum Handicap Chase (Premier Handicap) 4.40
One of the best improvers this season, Dan Skelton’s Heltenham can cope with this sharper trip and bring up the hat-trick for his in-form trainer. Unbeaten at Newbury Park in three visits, this Masked Marvel gelding acts on all ground, and if anything the amount of rain over the early part of this week that has fallen on this Merseyside track will bring the emphasis on stamina, so Heltenham looks to be ahead of the Handicapper still. That said, Harry Skelton takes the ride on Unexpected Party, who was bang back in form when scoring at the Cheltenham Festival in the Grand Annual, but has an 8lb hit for that win so things are just a bit harder this time. Heltenham to go forward once more

Goffs Nickel Coin Mares’ Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race (Grade 2) 5.15
Baby Kate
Willie Mullins can round off a good day for the raiding Irish Party with Baby Kate. She was impressive enough at Cheltenham when scoring by more than 4 lengths in the Listed Mares’ Bumper last month, and wouldn’t have to improve much from there to figure here. Honky Tonk Highway might have something to say about that though, judged on her performance in a Listed Bumper at Sandown Park for the girls, and with the Alcester yard of Dan Skelton riding high waves this season, has to be noted. Ben Pauling is another trainer in a purple patch, so Diva Luna completes the shortlist, but Baby Kate gets the nudge for the closer

The Mandarin

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