Kemboy can bounce back from his Cheltenham Festival disappointment with victory at Aintree on the opening day of the Grand National meeting today.
Willie Mullins’ runner looked primed for a big showing in last month’s Gold Cup, but his challenge came to a rather unceremonious end as he landed awkwardly after jumping the first and unshipped David Mullins.
The seven-year-old certainly picked his moment to have just the second mishap of his career, but he is much better judged on his previous two runs when winning the Clonmel Oil Chase and sluicing up in the Savills Chase at Leopardstown.
The form of that Christmas run looks decent – with the second and third, Monalee and Road To Respect, both turning in fair Festival efforts – but there could be no denying Kemboy had oodles in hand that day and could still rate a fair bit better than his current mark suggests.
He also arrives a fresh horse following his curtailed Gold Cup effort, and his fresh legs could well carry him to victory in the Betway Bowl.
Buveur D’Air also saw his Cheltenham dreams come crashing down, in the Champion Hurdle, but it would be no surprise if he too could right the record in the Betway Aintree Hurdle.
Seeking a third successive win in the Festival feature, Nicky Henderson’s charge got no further than the third flight – and he actually passed the post alongside winner Espoir D’Allen, albeit minus Barry Geraghty. That was not the first time he has made a jumping error this term. But Henderson will surely have got him back in the groove at home, and he can add another Aintree Hurdle to his record following his 2017 success.
Glen Forsa is another who can put a Cheltenham mishap behind him, in the Devenish Manifesto Novices’ Chase.
Mick Channon’s big Arkle hope got no farther than the fourth before unseating at the Festival.
His previous form entitled him to run very well there, however, and arguably even better over this extra half-mile here.
Joseph O’Brien can be on the mark with Band Of Outlaws in the Doom Bar Anniversary 4-Y-O Juvenile Hurdle.
Winner of the Fred Winter, he takes a steep jump up to Grade-One level – but his cosy Festival victory puts him right in the mix.
Road To Rome found three and a quarter miles around Cheltenham too big an ask, but dropping back in distance for the Randox Health Foxhunters’ Open Hunters’ Chase is a big plus.
He got a cracking ride from Sam Waley-Cohen in the Cheltenham amateurs’ event and will again have every assistance from the saddle, with his jockey one of the sharpest operators over the National fences.
Phil Kirby suffered a blow when Blaklion was ruled out of the National through injury. But Lady Buttons can provide a shred of compensation in the Close Brothers Red Rum Handicap Chase, while Miss Heritage is an intriguing contender for David Elsworth in the Goffs UK Nickel Coin Mares’ Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race.
Away from Aintree, one-time Classic hope Swiss Storm can continue on a upward curve in the Extra Places At totesport.com Handicap at Chelmsford.
Godolphin bought a share in this son of Frankel after he won one of his two juvenile starts, but a setback saw him miss the first part of the 2017 season – and he was then thoroughly found out when tried in the Dante that year.
Transferred to Michael Bell last term, Swiss Storm has taken a while to find his feet. But a gelding operation over the winter has seemingly worked the oracle, because he struck gold last time and can now kick on to live up to a little of his early promise.
TURF TALK TIPS
AINTREE: 1.45 Glen Forsa, 2.20 Band Of Outlaws, 2.50 KEMBOY (NAP), 3.25 Buveur D’Air, 4.05 Road To Rome (next best), 4.40 Lady Buttons, 5.15 Miss Heritage.
CHELMSFORD: 6.00 Yimkin, 6.30 Arabian Jazz, 7.00 Swiss Storm (treble), 7.30 Castle Talbot, 8.00 Drakefell, 8.30 Apex Predator.
SOUTHWELL: 1.55 Hua Hin, 2.30 Ifreet, 3.00 Mininggold, 3.35 Crosse Fire, 4.15 Dream Ally, 4.50 Poppy Jag, 5.30 Bonneville.
TAUNTON: 2.05 Micras, 2.40 Birds Of Prey, 3.10 Kootenay River, 3.50 Capitaine, 4.25 Come On Charlie, 5.00 Coco Live, 5.35 Starsky.