Wednesday 22 November 2017

Geraghty can get off to Aintree flyer with double for JP

'Barry Geraghty (pictured) is reunited with the Henderson-trained steed' Photo: Sportsfile
'Barry Geraghty (pictured) is reunited with the Henderson-trained steed' Photo: Sportsfile

Johnny Ward

Buveur D'Air gets the chance to show he is every bit as good over two-and-a-half miles as over two when he tackles today's Betway Aintree Hurdle.

A superb winner of the Champion Hurdle, albeit while Yanworth underwhelmed, Barry Geraghty is reunited with the Nicky Henderson-trained steed, available at 4/9. Aintree's two-and-a-half miles are not too testing; there is no major worry on that score.

Perhaps The New One can make the pace but when he won this in 2014 he scrambled in. Henderson stablemate My Tent Or Yours, second in the Champion Hurdle again and second in this race 12 months ago, can finish second again behind Buveur D'Air.

Rashaan could run a nice race for Bagenalstown trainer Colin Kidd, who said: "Obviously it will be a very tough race but he'll love the ground. It is his first try at the trip, I think it will suit."

The second Grade One is the Bowl, Cue Card attempting to emulate 2014 and 2015 hero Silviniaco Conti, which takes him on, in winning it back to back. Likely he would have struggled to score even had he not fallen in the Gold Cup but Colin Tizzard's charge was mesmeric in this 12 months ago. It is a winnable race.

Empire Of Dirt must be rated a threat on a favourable reading of his narrow Irish Gold Cup defeat to Sizing John but Gordon Elliott's inmate laboured in the Ryanair Chase, never really travelling. Victory for Silviniaco Conti would be a massive boost for Paul Nicholls' title challenge but it is hard to have much faith in the 11-year-old at this stage.

Day one of the National Festival commences with the Grade One Manifesto Novices' Chase in which Henderson's Top Notch makes plenty of appeal.

Only the highly-talented Yorkhill prevented his winning run continuing at Cheltenham and the way he rallied gamely from the last was taking. There's always a concern at this festival that one which had a gruelling test at Cheltenham will pay for its exertions only three weeks later but he is a reliable sort.

Another Grade One, the Doom Bar Anniversary 4-Y-O Juvenile Hurdle, can see Geraghty complete a double for McManus aboard Defi Du Seuil. Notably the Irish stay at home, reflecting that he looks pretty unbeatable on his Cheltenham running, when he proved that he can mix it regarding ground conditions.

The Foxhunters' Chase can go to Ireland. The McManus-owned On The Fringe, clearly below his best at Cheltenham, may be worth taking on as Balnaslow - trained in Co Antrim by Graham McKeever -is much better over today's trip and also has the considerable assistance of the experienced Derek O'Connor.

A chance is taken on the Robert Walford-trained Astre De La Cour in the Red Rum Handicap Chase. He won at this meeting over hurdles two years ago when beating The Game Changer .

Martello Park, which went too fast at Sandown, is interesting in the finale for Mags Mullins.

Irish Independent

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