13:45 Aintree: Distance experience points towards Utopie Des Bordes
A race which originally boasted entries from the likes of The New One, Broadway Buffalo and Melodic Rendezvous may have lost something of it’s lustre with their interests elsewhere, but their withdrawals have created yet another Henderson v Nicholls duel.
Just as at the Cheltenham Festival, it could be Nicky Henderson who ends up having the better of the contest thanks to his mare Utopie Des Bordes, who can be backed at 4/1.
Three of the five-year-old’s last four wins have come at this distance of 2m4f or over, and with all of those victories – plus a 2m½f success – coming by almost two lengths or more, Henderson’s charge looks as though she has plenty in the tank.
Having Barry Geraghty on board is sure to help matters too.
The two-time Cheltenham Gold Cup winner guided Utopie Des Bordes to her last two victories, and although the pair were down the field in fifth in the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle at the Festival, there has been enough promise shown elsewhere to hint that they can deal with this competition.
The key exception is the Paul Nicholls gelding Dodging Bullets, a winner over shorter distances who comes here with heavy backing due to Nicholls’ union with jockey Ruby Walsh.
Available at 11/4, the five-year-old found himself out of the picture in ninth as the focus was on the battle at the front between Champagne Fever and My Tent Or Yours in the Supreme Novives’ Hurdle at the Festival.
That took his record to just two wins in seven races over 2m, and although Nicholls will be looking towards Walsh to pilot the gelding successfully here – just as he did in those two wins – it could be that he finds himself losing out to arch-rival Henderson once again.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing