17:00 Aintree – Plan B to pay dividends for Plan A
Plan A may have been a beaten favourite at the Cheltenham Festival, but he should be more successive when tackling his Plan B, the John Smith’s Handicap Hurdle.
Trainer Gordon Elliott had a fine Festival, but could only watch Plan A finish fourth in the Fred Winter Hurdle, despite being sent off as the 4/1 favourite.
However, this can still be considered a solid performance as was conceding weight all round and the form of this race has been franked since.
Kumbeshwar finished second to Triumph Hurdle winner Zarkandar earlier at the Grand National meeting and earlier finished second at Cheltenham in the Fred Winter Hurdle, two lengths ahead of Plan A.
Now at Aintree, Plan A will be receiving weight from the majority of his rivals and has also shown good form this season when chasing home Sam Winner and Grandouet at Cheltenham in November.
He can be backed at 5/1.
Red Merlin is one to consider each-way at 7/1 and was the easiest of winners on his latest start when waltzing to victory at Hereford last month.
However, there is the argument that he has endured a tough season having raced eight times and this may take its toll at Aintree.
Nearby is another with a solid each-way chance at 10/1 as he should come on for his run at the Coral Cup at the Cheltenham Festival.
He also has course form after winning the toteplacepot Handicap Hurdle at Aintree in October.
But the fact he has to five over a stone in weight to the majority of his rivals may just be too much of an ask, particularly as he is giving close to two stone to Plan A.
A £20 stake on Tarablaze winning the John Smith’s Handicap Hurdle would return £160. New customers can sign up here.