Rejuvenated Queen Catrine can reign supreme at Kempton
THE Aintree Festival begins next Thursday and culminates, of course, with the Grand National on the Saturday.
A couple of years ago, I mentioned a betting strategy on these pages which revolves around the old idea that Cheltenham form at Aintree can't be trusted.
The conventional wisdom goes that if a horse won at Cheltenham, it probably had a hard race and is unlikely to be in peak condition going to Aintree.
But quite often in this game, it makes sense to oppose the conventional wisdom and you are actually far better off keeping such horses on your side.
As I've often mentioned, training methods have changed down through the years and it's now possible to keep a horse fit and well over a couple of festivals.
Thankfully, this strategy has continued to earn its keep since I mentioned it, and I hope it produces a number of winners next week to help build up a good betting pot for Saturday's big race.
Basically, you should consider backing any horse at Aintree which came first or second at the Cheltenham Festival.
Blindly backed, this approach churned a profit in six of the last twelve years and had you stuck €10 on each, you'd be €430 better off today.
Those punters which like to be a bit more cautious would have earned €265 to a fiver each way and collected a return on over half of their 236 bets since 2003.
Last year was particularly profitable with six winners from 14 runners including Whisper (4/1), Lac Fontana (9/2) and Ma Filleule (9/1).
I know a lot of people are uncomfortable betting on horses based on a 'system' or a set of rules but it's a good starting point at the very least, and is certainly food for thought before Thursday.
But back to matters at hand where the Listed Betfred Mobile Snowdrop Fillies' Stakes (2.50 Kempton) is probably the most interesting race of the day from a betting perspective.
I was initially keen on Marco Botti's Lady Dutch, and that filly had some good Italian form under the belt before coming to Britain to win a minor event here back in February.
She definitely has potential but I was hoping to get a good deal higher than 4/1 so on this occasion, she's swerved purely on price.
A daughter of Mastercraftsman, Victoria Regina is also entitled to go close at 5/1 but I reckon the solid option is the Charles Hills trained Queen Catrine, which should go off in the region of 5/2.
It was a considerable achievement to come second under a very big weight in the Sandringham Handicap at Royal Ascot and the winner of that race, Muteela, has since gone on to win at Pattern level.
While it's fair to say that Queen Catrine has been disappointing in her three races since Ascot, she's still the one to beat on form and she's reported to be fresh and well at home following a break of six months.
Shortly before at Haydock, Hindon Road is overpriced at 16/1 for the Connolly's Red Mills 'Precision Nutrition' Series Handicap Hurdle Final (2.35). His stamina was stretched when second last time over 3m1f but a step down in trip can keep him in the frame.
TRAINED by Richard Woollacott, Silvergrove makes plenty of appeal each-way at 14/1 in this afternoon's 888sport Handicap Chase at Haydock (3.45), although it must be noted that he's sometimes prone to jumping mistakes.
The seven-year-old remains on a mark of 116 having been pulled up at Exeter last time following an error, and is best judged on his previous outing at Ffos Las in which he traded at 1/4 in-running before getting collared on the run-in.
2.25 Newton Abbot: Monsieur Gibraltar
2.35 Haydock: Hindon Road
2.50 Kempton: Queen Catrine
3.45 Haydock: Silvergrove (e/w)
4.35 Kempton: Peacock