Turf Talk: Interesting steeplechasing in prospect at Aintree and Wincanton
The bad weather continues to affect British racing, with meetings up and down the country being abandoned. Wetherby lost the Friday of the Charlie Hall Chase meeting, but did at least see racing on Saturday.
Despite there being only four runners in the feature race, it was a great spectacle with Irish raider Gentlemansgame just getting the better of the favourite, Bravemansgame.
There are two more good steeplechases this Saturday at Aintree and Wincanton. The Grand National fences are in use for the Grand Sefton Chase at Aintree and with heavy going anticipated it is likely to be an attritional race.
Very few of the runners have had experience of these unique fences but one that does is Gesskille. He was beaten a nose in this race last year then again came second in the Becher Chase over course and distance. Last time out he won at Auteil on very soft going so ticks a lot of boxes.
Cooper’s Cross was going well when hampered four out in the Topham Chase over these fences and looks the main danger to my selection.
West Balboa holds engagements at both Aintree and Wincanton, though the race in Lancashire looks his best chance of victory, so hopefully he is sent north by Dan Skelton.
Champion trainer Paul Nicolls has won the Badger Beer Chase at Wincanton 11 times, most recently with Frodon last year. Bryony Frost is reunited with Frodon again this year but could find it tough giving weight to his stable companion Complete Unknown.
This seven-year-old was second as a novice to Gerri Colombe at Aintree and proved his ability to handle heavy going when winning at Newton Abbott.
Nicholls could also be in the winner’s enclosure with Rubaud in the Elite Hurdle. He has yet to race on ground as soft as he is likely to face on Saturday ,but should be able to outclass his rivals.
Garlick's Goodies: Saturday Aintree 2:45 - Gesskille; 3:20 – West Balboa; Wincanton 2:25 – Rubaud; 3:00 – Complete Unknown.