On what is the best opening day of the Grand National Meeting in years The New One takes on the old order in the John Smith’s Aintree Hurdle
An impressive Festival winner The New One will leave his novice rivals behind him and take on the established hurdling old guard in the 2m4f Aintree Hurdle this afternoon. His trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies has also claimed that he is one of (if not the) best he has trained; this afternoon he will get his chance to prove it with the two-time Aintree Hurdle winner Oscar Whisky, the Champion Hurdle third Countrywide Flame and the classy Grandouet in opposition. The New One showed an impressive turn of foot up the Cheltenham Hill and has winning form at the meeting when winning from last year in the Bumper. It certainly a big ask from the trainer but Nigel Twiston-Davies is confident that his horse can perform at this level. Crockford believes that his main danger will come from the unlucky Grandouet who was travelling well when falling in the Champion Hurdle.
The Betfred Bowl has also attracted a quality field with Silviniaco Conti looking to make amends for his fall in the Gold Cup. Favourites have had a difficult time over recent years in this race and Crockford is more tempted by the value on offer for the Ryanair Chase second First Lieutenant and the Gold Cup fifth Cape Tribulation. The Irish will look to have a good meeting and First Lieutenant has the ability to provide an upset, whilst Cape Tribulation has a liking for the track.
The story of the first race over the National obstacles this year could be that of a Mother-in-law and Son-in-law contest with Paul Nicholls training the likely favourite Gwanako whilst owning a share in the second favourite Bold Addition who is trained by his Mother-in-law (Mrs F J Browne).
Beyond the four other excellent races at Aintree today, mention has to be made of the outstanding card put on by the officials at Taunton who have attracted quality fields for their seven races. Hunt Ball runs at (3.20) and useful novice Aaim To Prosper in the (3.55)
Crockford’s Dead Cert – Captain Conan (Aintree 4.50)
Fifth when not lasting home on soft ground at the Festival, the track and the ground will better suit today. Henderson and the team have always held this horse in the utmost regard and are convinced that he has improved again this year. With his tougher Cheltenham rivals missing today he is certain to return to the Winners Enclosure.
Crockford’s Whisper – Cape Tribulation e/w (Aintree 2.30)
Running on when fifth in the Gold Cup and a game winner of the Argento Chase earlier in the season, this horse will be better suited by the conditions and course today. Denis O’Regan told ATR he was confident of a big run and Crockford is too. At around 14/1 it is worth following the each way whispers. Outsiders have a good record in the Bowl.
Crockford’s other gambles on Grand National Meeting Day One and at Taunton:
Juvenile Hurdle (2.00) – Flaxen Flare and Ruacana e/w
Bowl Chase (2.30) – First Lieutenant and Cape Tribulation e/w
Aintree Hurdle (3.05) – Grandouet
Fox Hunters Chase (3.40) – Gwanako
Red Rum Chase (4.15) – Rebel Rebellion, Pires e/w and Donna’s Palm e/w
Manifesto Novices Chase (4.50) – Captain Conan
Silver Cross Handicap Hurdle (5.25) – Jetson e/w and Easter Day e/w
Taunton – Bathwick Junior (2.10), Fox Run (2.45), Hunt Ball and Woolcombe Folly e/w (3.20), Aaim To Prosper (3.55), Violin Davis (4.20), Coombe Hill (5.05) and Thundering Home (5.35)
(Featured Photograph – The New One after his Festival win by Stuart Rice)
(Photograph – Captain Conan at the Cheltenham Festival 2013 by Stuart Rice)