QUEEN Mother Champion Chase winner Finian’s Rainbow will step up to 2m4f for tomorrow’s Melling Chase at Aintree where he will face seven rivals.
The nine-year-old won a dramatic renewal of the Queen Mother Champion Chase at Cheltenham last month when he denied Henry de Bromhead’s Sizing Europe in a race that was marred by the confusion of the final fence.
The horse, who was a faller at the final fence with a circuit to go and who was the reason for the bypassing, Wishfull Thinking, also lines up in the feature race of the Grand National meeting.
A faller at the first fence in the Champion Chase was Kauto Stone and he is one of two Paul Nicholls runners in the mix with Ruby Walsh aboard Poquelin. Paul Carberry renews his partnership with Kauto Stone who he won on at Down Royal earlier this season.
More at home over the 2m4f trip will be Jonjo O’Neill’s Alberta’s Run whose connections opted against running him in the Betfred Bowl today in favour of looking for a second win in this race.
Alberta’s Run was second \[Ian Winterton\]in the race last year behind Master Minded, and he won it the previous year beating Forpadydeplasterer, who will be the only Irish representative in tomorrow afternoon’s big race.
Alberta’s Run’s bold showing behind Riverside Theatre at Cheltenham on the back of a win around Aintree before that means that the battle with Finian’s Rainbow is sure to be an intriguing one, but a tentative vote is given to the youth of Finian’s Rainbow to oblige.
In the John Smith’s Mildmay Novices Chase, Champion Court heads a field of just five for the 3m1f contest.
Champion Court was desperately unlucky not to triumph in Cheltenham when just getting done in the closing stages and as his jockey Alain Cawley told the Herald that day in Cheltenham: “What can you do when you are beat by a Gold Cup horse?” referring to bumping into Sir Des Champs on that occasion.
Champion Court should be able to bounce back to winning ways and he takes on the Paul Nicholls pair of Join Together and Silviniaco Conti as well as Solix for Nicky Henderson and Roy Wilson’s Yes Tom.
Philip Hobbs’ Fingal Bay will make his first start of the year when putting his unbeaten record on the line in the John Smith’s Sefton Novices’ Hurdle.
The six-year-old son of King’s Theatre was forced to miss Cheltenham with a setback and faces his toughest task yet. He meets\[Ian Winterton\]ing Cotton Mill who was going to run a massive race before parting company with Denis O’Regan in the Neptune Investments Novices Hurdle at Cheltenham and a tentative vote is given to Cotton Mill.
Supreme Novices’ Hurdle runner-up Darlan will likely be hard to beat in the opening Tangle Teezer Top Novices’ Hurdle, while in the Topham over the National \[Ian Winterton\]Ffences, Frankie Figg is a good each way bet for Nicholls and Walsh.