Day two of the Grand National Meeting sees Sprinter Sacre, Flemenstar and Cue Card clash in the Melling Chase. Crockford considers if the awesome Sprinter Sacre can be beaten?
The way in which Sprinter Sacre made the former champion Sizing Europe look ordinary in the Queen Mother Champion Chase at the Festival must send a shiver down the spine of any potential rival. Today the awesome two miler tries a new distance in the Melling Chase and takes on a new set of challengers to his title of the best horse in training. At two and a half miles he takes on two horses which are masters of the trip in Cue Card and Flemenstar. Cue Card was an impressive winner of the Ryanair Chase last month beating yesterday’s winner of the Betfred Bowl First Lieutenant. Flemenstar returns to his favoured distance today after being tried over three miles in his last two runs and will certainly benefit from being fresh after not taking his chances at Cheltenham. The front running style of both horses means that Henderson’s Sprinter Sacre will certainly be tested for stamina over the extended trip and may have to work harder to dominate the field. That said neither Flemenstar or Cue Card have ever had to serve it up to a horse of his class and natural ability over fences. Quoted at 1/3 and shorter Sprinter Sacre is not value even if he is the likely winner. Crockford prefers to look at the each way value available on Flemenstar at 7/1. Perhaps punters should save their wagers and just sit back and enjoy what is the best two and half mile contest that they are likely to witness for many years to come. The depth of the race is shown by the fact that no pundits are even mentioning the winner from last year Finians Rainbow who is currently priced at 20/1 for a repeat win.
My Tent Or Yours and At Fishers Cross will start as short priced favourites for their respective novice hurdles. Crockford fears the hype around My Tent Or Yours and believes him to be vulnerable. Rocky Creek missed Cheltenham and has been aimed at Aintree since his last win and should see of the challenge from the improved Vino Griego and soft ground loving Dynaste.
Always Waining has dominated the Topham Chase for the last few years and misses today’s renewal to head for the Grand National instead. In his absence another Welsh trained horse Tartak looks well placed to take the prize back to Wales. The dangers to him look to come from the classy Walkon and Little Josh.
Crockford’s Dead Cert – Molly’s A Diva (Aintree 5.25)
Having won three on the trot with many of her rivals behind her last time in a listed contest at Sandown, Crockford believes that she can go on again today to make it four straight wins in a row. There is nothing to suggest that she will not handle the change in the ground conditions and looks to be a Dead Cert.
Crockford’s Whisper – Tartak e/w (Aintree 3.40)
His encouraging third in a hot handicap at the Cheltenham Festival and his liking of the faster ground conditions make Tartak an interesting each way proposition. This once classy performer can return again to the frame on a low weight.
Crockford’s Gambles on Day Two of the Grand National Meeting:
Top Novice Hurdle (2.00) – Art Of Logistics e/w
Mildmay Novice Chase (2.30) – Rocky Creek
Melling Chase (3.05) – Flemenstar e/w
Topham Chase (3.40) – Tartak e/w, Walkon e/w and Little Josh e/w
Sefton Hurdle (4.15) – At Fishers Cross
Handicap Hurdle (4.50) – Meister Eckhart e/w and Punjabi e/w
NH Flat (5.25) – Molly’s A Diva
(Featured Photograph – Cue Card at Cheltenham by Stuart Rice)
(Photograph – Tartak after his third at the Cheltenham Festival by Stuart Rice)