In the 3m Grade 3 Gaskells Handicap Hurdle that gets proceedings underway on Grand National day at Aintree on Saturday (13:45), Sire Du Berlais looks a worthy favourite at 9/2 with William Hill to defy top weight and land the spoils.
This Gordon Elliott tained seven-year-old, who carries the famous green and gold hooped colours of leading Irish owner JP McManus, landed a gamble at last month’s Cheltenham Festival when showing a game attitude to get up close home and beat Tobefair by a neck in the 24-runner Pertemps Network Final.
Sire Du Berlais was short of room three from home when the pace quickened, but then dug deep under Barry Geraghty and found plenty when asked on the run-in to hit the front 75 yards from home to win a shade cosily.
A 5lb rise for that success looks more than fair, especially as it is partly offset by the 3lb claim of the talented Jonjo O’Neill Jr.
Ground conditions also hold no fears and Sire Du Berlais and he looks the type that should have more to offer for a yard that has already tasted success at this prestigious three-day meeting.
Burrows Park each-way value
Of those at bigger odds, the Venetia Williams trained Burrows Park appeals each-way at 14/1 with BetVictor, who are paying a fifth of the outright odds for five places. This seven-year-old has enjoyed a productive season, winning three times and posting some fine efforts in defeat.
They include when a 17 1/2 lengths ninth of 24 to Early Doors in the ultra-competitive 2m 4f Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival, where he got outpaced two from home before sticking to the task well without quite ever threatening to get back on terms.
Burrows Park has since won in commanding fashion at Kelso and, although this is tougher, he is clearly in tip top shape and out to be up to making his presence felt despite being hit by an 8lb rise in the weights.
Mister Malarky holds major claims
A case can made for most in the 3m Grade 3 Betway Handicap Chase prior to the Grand National itself (16:20), but Mister Malarky looks sure to go well now eased in grade.
This Colin Tizzard trained six-year-old has progressed well and won three of his five starts this season. In the last of those at Ascot, he stayed on dourly to beat Now McGinty by 1 1/2 lengths in a Grade 2.
Connections then pitched Mister Malarky into the Grade 1 RSA at last month’s Cheltenham Festival, and he was far from disgraced in finishing an 18 1/4 lengths fourth of 12 to Topofthegame off an official rating of 148.
Mister Malarky now switches back to handicap company off 1lb lower, so that gives him leading claims from a handicapping perspective on ground which is ideal. He also looks the type to go on improving and has a touch of quality about him.
At 6/1 with the race sponsors betway, he looks a worthy market leader – ahead of top weight Kildisart and the hat-trick seeking Debece, who are both priced up at 7/1.
Oldgrangewood weighted to go well
Oldgrangewood has been given a real chance by the assessor, so looks a lively outsider and well worth considering each-way at the 12/1 on offer with William Hill.
Trained by Dan Skelton, this eight-year-old was last successful at Newbury back in December 2017 when beating Jameson by half-a-length off a mark of 145.
Prior to that, he had run really well over 2m 4f on the Mildmay course at this venue when third of 12 to Smad Place in the Grade 2 Old Roan Chase off an official rating of 147.
Oldgrangewood is now able to race off a reduced of just 137, having shaped quite well at last month’s Cheltenham Festival when ninth of 24 to Beware The Bear in the Grade 3 Ultima Handicap Chase.
That was a big step back in the right direction and, if building on it, Oldgrangewood looks too well-treated to ignore in this slightly less competitive contest.
The fact that he has run well here in the past is a plus and he is undoubtedly weighted to go well on the pick of his form.
Scheu Time fancied in finale
Irish raider Scheu Time had the Pinsent Masons Handicap Hurdle at his mercy 12 months ago when coming to grief at the last, and looks worth a bet to gain compensation in this year’s running of the 2m contest (18:20).
This John Nash trained six-year-old has only had 11 starts over the obstacles – winning twice He was sent off a well-backed 9/2 favourite before disaster struck and appeared, if anything, to jump the final obstacle too well and slither on landing as a result.
Scheu Time looked a desperately unlucky loser and is able to race in this year’s renewal off off the same mark of 124.
That is the same as when last successful at Ayr back in October when making all an winning easily by three lengths from Stoney River. It gives his a big shout at the weights and Scheu Time is versatile as regards ground.
He also has the services of the aforementioned Jonjo O’Neill Jr in the saddle, so looks to hold leading claims at 6/1 with betway of giving the talented youngster a first and last race big double.
Chief Justice and Lords Yeats worth considering
Lords Yeats, who heads the betting at 11/2 with Betfred, is an unexposed and improving sort who has won two of his four starts over the obstacles, so looks sure to go well for trainer Jedd O’Keeffe.
This by far the stiffest task he has faced to date, however, and his lack of experience could prove costly in this big field against battle-hardened rivals.
The Gordon Elliott trained Chief Justice is another with claims at an 8/1 price with Ladbrokes now eased in grade.
He wasn’t disgraced when 12th of 20 to Band Of Outlaws in the Grade 3 Fred Winter at the Cheltenham Festival and is now able to race off 2lb lower.
A revised rating of 137 looks exploitable given that he was in fine form at the start of the season when winning three of his four starts, including when battling to a short-head success over Coeur Sublime in a Grade 3 juvenile contest at Fairyhouse.