It's turned out to be a small field, but we could just be seeing a superstar in action. Time will tell. James Jack, @materialista27, previews the race.
The Maghull Novices' Chase is a Grade 1 Chase which is open to horses aged five years old and up. It is run at over two miles and there are twelve fences to be jumped. The event was established in 1954, and it has been known by various titles. It is currently named after Maghull, a town located to the north of Aintree. For a period the race was classed at Grade 2 level, and it was promoted to Grade 1 status in 1995. Previous winners include Flagship Uberalles, Well Chief, Twist Magic and Finian's Rainbow. Paul Nicholls has won the race five times and Ruby Walsh has ridden three winners in the event. The prize fund is £100,000 of which £56,270 goes to the winner. Due to the fact that the race is synonymous with the two mile novice division, traditionally runner from the Arkle Chase at Cheltenham usually line up. When I picked this race to preview, there were eleven entries, but for various reasons, which will become apparent, there are only four runners tomorrow. All horses carry eleven stone four pounds.
Denis O'Regan for Paul Webber
Form figures look good, won his last two in Novice events at Huntingdon and Kempton and is used to these small field races having been first of three and first of four. However he hasn't run since November, and the Nosecondchance who he beat that day has been worse than rubbish on his subsequent re-appearances. In fact, even the horse that last beat him, Ultimate has been mince since then. It would appear that he'll only finish in the first four by default.
Best Odds: 14/1 (Paddy Power)
James Reveley for Tom Tate
Well at least this one has more recent form, albeit a defeat of Nosecondchance at Southwell last time out, but he only beat him sixteen lengths in a three runner race for £3,250. That just isn't going to cut it in this event. The second that day finished a mere thirty two lengths behind what would generously be considered one of Paul Nicholls' shire horses. Still, he's in with a chance as this is such a small field, but he's thirty five pounds behind the favourite, so it'd be an achievement to even finish.
Best Odds: 40/1 (Sportingbet)
Barry Geraghty for Nicky Henderson
A penalty kick, a sure thing, a mortgage job, one for your wonga and any other phrase that annoying cockney Gary Wiltshire wishes to call it, seriously, isn't he as bad as McCririck as a caricature of bookies....? [edited]
Won the Arkle whilst still asleep destroying Cue Card, Al Ferof and Menorah. Beat Peddlers Cross (Who?) by a distance at Kempton. Beat Zaynar and French Opera while setting a new course record on the bridle at Newbury. If you don't get the drift by now, I'll spell it out:
S-P-R-I-N-T-E-R S-A-C-R-E W-I-L-L W-I-N T-H-I-S R-A-C-E
Which means what? Well nothing much, the absence of any older horses means we won't be able to read much into this for next season as in avoiding older horses at this meeting means we might get a slightly better price if he re-appears in the Tingle Creek or the Amlin Chase next season. In all honesty, we're looking for a second placed horse for the forecast.
Best Odds: 1/6 (Paddy Power)
Ruby Walsh for Paul Nicholls
I was quite right to discount this one in the Grand Annual preview at Cheltenham, and guess what, I'm gonna do it again. He won't win, but if Nicholls and Walsh are as smart and shrewd as me, they'll realise that this is a race for second and the £21,200 that comes with. Toubab should have enough to beat the other two easily, he beat Zaynar by nine lengths at Cheltenham in October and was nice enough to fall when in contention next time out at Haydock, he bounced back at Sandown to beat Falcon Island in a second rate Novices' Chase. He should have enough to beat the other two if Ruby lets him switch off and forget about trying to chase Sprinter Sacre. If they do get silly and try to go with Sprinter Sacre, there's a chance there could only be one finisher. Fingers crossed they all stay on their feet.
Best Odds: 10/1 (William Hill)
Sprinter Sacre's race to lose, men braver than I will try to get him beat, but that's not the way I play and they'll deserve whatever they get.
10pt Sprinter Sacre to beat Toubab