Aintree Selections (Thursday)

1pt win Clondaw Castle in the 2.50 Aintree at 9/1

1pt win Mister Fisher in the 2.50 Aintree at 17/2

1pt win Abacadabras in the 3.25 Aintree at 7/2

1.5pts each-way Dashing Perk in the 4.05 Aintree at 12/1 (5 Places)

1.5pts each-way Sully DOc AA in the 4.40 Aintree at 16/1 (4 Places)

1pt each-way Moon Over Germany in the 4.40 Aintree at 10/1 (4 Places)

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CLONDAW CASTLE seemingly relished the step-up to 3 miles when landing the traditionally competitive Close Brothers Handicap Chase at Kempton (under 11-8) in February and Tom George was quick to nominate this race as a future target in the immediate aftermath of that success.

Interestingly, this isn’t the first time that Tom George has saddled a horse in that Kempton contest prior to lining-up in this Grade 1 heat, as he saddled his galant grey Nacarat to place third in that same Kempton contest prior to plundering this Grade 1 prize in 2011.

It’s fair to say that Clondaw Castle appears to be improving with age and seven of his nine victories – including his second point-to-point – have come on decent ground, including his success at Kempton in February.

That was Clondaw Castle’s first outing over 3 miles under rules (also won a good ground 3 mile point-to-point) and he remains completely unexposed over staying trips, which renders him a fascinating contender given the exposed status of those towards the head of the betting.

An official rating of 160 puts him firmly in the mix and he demonstrated his liking for the track when placing second in the Grade 2 Old Roan Chase (2m4f) on soft ground in October. He is therefore a very lively contender.

MISTER FISHER ran far better than the bare form would suggest when pulling-up in the Ryanair Chase at Cheltenham last month, and both and trainer, Nicky Henderson, and jockey, Nico De Boinville, were quick to suggest that 3 miles may see him to better effect.

Indeed, De Boinville remarked that Mister Fisher was on his limit throughout – which may explain a few sketchy jumps – given the ferocious pace set by Rachael Blackmore on the hugely impressive victor Allaho, and Mister Fisher briefly looked as though he may give the eventual winner some level of competition prior to a significant mistake at three from home.

It was a wise move to pull-up when his chance was gone as he was spared a slog up the gruelling Cheltenham hill which may well pay dividends tomorrow, especially as he will have ideal ground conditions on his first foray over 3 miles.

Thirteenth in the Grade 2 bumper at this meeting in 2018 on his only previous visit to Aintree, Mister Fisher will have the tactical speed to lay up in the early exchanges and could easily be ready to pounce if those in front go to hard, and his Grade 2 success in the rescheduled Peterborough Chase in December suggested that he was just beginning to fulfil the potential that he has always hinted at.

Indeed, it’s entirely possible that he is just beginning to hit the peak of his powers at the age of seven, and it’s worth nothing that he gave the aforementioned Clondaw Castle 3lbs and a 7 lengths beating on at Cheltenham in December, and that form is obviously solid given what Tom George’s charge has achieved subsequently.

There a plenty of positives regarding the Seven Barrows inmate.

ABACADABRAS was spared a hard race when falling at the third in last month’s Champion Hurdle and he looks a fascinating contender over two-and-a-half-miles.

The decent ground will be to his liking and he is one of just two contenders whom have triumphed in Grade 1 company this season – the other being Silver Streak, whom was beaten 43 lengths in this race in 2019.

The strong travelling seven-year-old bumped into Shishkin and Envoi Allen as a novice last season and was no match for Honeysuckle in the Irish Champion Hurdle. However, he is clearly a very talented horse and he may find this trip to his liking on a flat track.

DASHING PERK could only place third on his Hunter Chase debut at Wincanton last month month, however, that was his first start of the calendar year and I suspect that this race was very much at the forefront of connections minds.

Lightly raced for his age, Dashing Perk ran respectably over two-and-a-half-miles at Aintree in both November and December before being pulled-up over 3 miles at Doncaster. Intermediate trips on decent ground clearly suit, and he should be cherry ripe for this contest.

Dr Richard Newland expertly prepared Pineau De Re to land the 2014 Grand National, and jockey Sam Whaley-Cohen has a fine record over Aintree’s famous spruce fences, including three previous victories in this race courtesy of Katarino in 2005 and 2006, and Warne in 2014.

Dashing Perk remains open to improvement after just 8 starts in this sphere, which isn’t necessarily the case for many of his exposed rivals, and his official rating doesn’t leave him with too much to find with those ahead of him in the betting.

SULLY D’OC AA made a successful seasonal reappearance at Ascot in October beating no fewer than 6 subsequent scorers, and he may have followed-up at Newbury in November had he not made a momentum checking mistake at the final fence.

That too looked a decent contest given that the winner, Clondaw Castle, has since defied a mark of 154, and Anthony Honeyball’s seven-year-old looks fairly treated off a 1lb higher mark.

Both of those efforts, and his subsequent eighth placed finish at the Cheltenham Festival last month, came on decent ground over trips in the region of two-and-a-half-miles, and this drop back to 2 miles could suit him well given the likely string gallop.

The fact that connections elected to save him for Cheltenham post Newbury perhaps indicates that they felt that he was well handicapped, and he remains open to further progress on just his eighth start in this sphere.

MOON OVER GERMANY ran out a 10 lengths winner of this race in 2019 and the booking of Cheltenham Festival winning 7lbs cleaner Jordan Gainford suggests the hat connections are taking aim once more.

Henry De Bromhead’s ten-year-old has mixed fences and hurdles in recent times, and he ran a screamer to place sixth in the County Hurdle last year.

The son of Germany got his eye in over fences when placing fourth behind Any Second Now in Grade 2 company at Navan last month, and he should appreciate the decent ground that he will encounter tomorrow.

Jordan Gainford’s claim puts him firmly in the mix and a clearly relishes a strongly run, competitive handicap. Therefore he is another big player.

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Image supplied by JTW Equine Images (JTWEquineImag).

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