James Jack landed Krypton Factor in the Golden Shaheen in Dubai at his latest appearance on my blog. What is in store for him at Aintree? Follow him @Materialista27
The Melling is a steeplechase for five year olds and up and is run over two and a half miles at Aintree. The runners, mostly from the fields of the Queen Mother Champion Chase and the Ryanair Chase at the Cheltenham festival will tackle sixteen fences. It was first run in 1991 and is a Grade 1 with a total purse of £175,000. Voy Por Ustedes, Moscow Flyer and Viking Flagship have all won the race twice in the past. All horses carry eleven stone ten pounds.
1. Albertas Run
AP McCoy for Jonjo O'Neill
Aintree seems to be his track, second in the race last year, won it in 2010 and after a good tune-up at Cheltenham, all would seem right for another tilt at this. The extra week between the festival and this meeting is a good thing for most horses, but I don't think it really affects Albertas Run. He's well used to this trip and unlike most of his rivals, namely the favourite, he's won over course and distance which to me is just as important in these races as it is at Cheltenham or at any other undulating course. The only slight concern is he's now 11 and one of the oldest in the field, so maybe one of the younger horses could do him for pace on the run-in.
Best Odds: 3/1 (William Hill)
2. Finian's Rainbow
Barry Geraghty for Nicky Henderson
Winner of the Queen Mother Chase in somewhat farcical circumstances at the last fence, he comes to Aintree having won the Maghull Chase last year at the meeting, but my main concern is that he hasn't won over two and a half miles since February 2010 and although he's plenty quick enough over two miles, I'm not convince he'll keep that pace up over the extra half mile with some of these more experienced campaigners over this trip. He's rated five pounds ahead of Albertas Run, but I could see that easily being overturned.
Best Odds: 5/4 (William Hill)
Bryan Cooper for Thomas Cooper
Won the Arkle at Cheltenham in 2009, just nutting Kalahari King that day, went on a very consistent run, albeit seconds until he was pulled up in last season's King George. Since then he's struggled, finishing third to Big Zeb and Noble Prince twice in Ireland and was a disappointing sixth in the Ryanair to Riverside Theatre who was pulled up in the Betfred Bowl this afternoon. Backers of FPTP can only hope he wasn't trying at Cheltenham and that a return to a flatter track and drop back in trip will galvanize him and although I wouldn't rule anything out with this horse, I wouldn't be rushing to back him.
Best Odds: 20/1 (Ladbrokes)
4. Kalahari King
Noel Fehily for Ferdy Murphy
Winner of the Maghull Chase in 2009, this horse was behind FPTP in the Ryanair and looks even less of a prospect in this race. Looked a great prospect as a Novice, but has failed to fulfil that promise when he joined the older horses in saddling the extra weight. He was pulled up twice in defeats to Master Minded in the Amlin Chase and this event last year, and although he might finish the race this year, I wouldn't think he'll be in the front three and I'm happy to discount him as a betting prospect, as are most of the layers.
Best Odds: 25/1 (William Hill)
5. Kauto Stone
Paul Carberry for Paul Nicholls
Fell at the first in the Queen Mother, and only beat one home in the Ascot Chase in February, but Paul Nicholls horses weren't right at Cheltenham, and the trip at Ascot was just too far, so a drop back might suit him. His half brother was quite the racer and in time so might Kauto Stone. He's only six and three years younger than any of his rivals, so that freshness of youth and the ability to bounce back from a dodgy fall at Cheltenham is definitely in his favour. He has plenty of speed as shown by his second in the Tingle Creek this year, and he wouldn't mind any precipitation overnight. The booking of Paul Carberry also interests me and he did guide Kauto to his first win this side of the channel, at Down Royal and over two and a half miles in soft conditions. Looks a bit of value in this.
Best Odds: 12/1 (BetVictor)
Ruby Walsh for Paul Nicholls
The only main contender to miss the Cheltenham festival, he will be the freshest in the field after seventy six days off. He missed the Aintree festival last year in favour of the Silver Trophy Chase at Cheltenham, and Ruby takes the ride on this one instead of Kauto Stone. I'm not convinced however, and as he was second to Monet's Garden on his last visit to Aintree and threw Ruby off in this race two years ago, I can't get enthusiastic about his chances. Trip shouldn't be a problem as he's been running over two miles five and ground won't be an issue. I just feel he's peaked, not a very high peak, but peaked nonetheless.
Best Odds: 8/1 (Bet365)
7. Pure Faith
Tom O'Brien for Peter Bowen
Donkey, making up the numbers for three places.
Best Odds: 100/1 (William Hill)
8. Wishfull Thinking
Richard Johnson for Phillip Hobbs
Helped to cause all the commotion in the Queen Mother Chase when he fell and went under the rail. Did his bit for his country when he kicked the French photographer though. Go on my son. Remains to be seen how he has recovered from that fall, and although he won a Novice Chase here last season, I'm not convinced he's recovered enough. He did beat Medermit in that Novice's event last term, but that's one of his few wins away from Cheltenham, and I'm not sure he'll enjoy the pace that should come in this race over a flatter track. Wouldn't begrudge him a win, but won' be backing him either.
Best Odds: 12/1 (Stan James)
4pt win Albertas Run
2pt ew Kauto Stone
1pt reverse forecast Albertas Run with Kauto Stone