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Doom Bar Aintree Hurdle preview

The three-day Grand National Festival gets underway tomorrow with a mix of high quality small fields and lower quality large fields, with no middle ground. The richest race of the day is the Grade 1 Aintree Hurdle, sponsored by the magnificent Doom Bar ale from Sharp's Brewery in Cornwall #mmmbeer! Unfortunately they were bought out by that multinational brewer known for pumping out tasteless crap, Molson Coors, three years ago. May they never be allowed to tinker with one of the finest drops you'll ever taste.

Anyhow, back to the racing. Can anyone beat The New One after all and sundry thought he was robbed in the Champion Hurdle? Let's read what blog regular Jon da Silva, @CreamOnTop, has to say about it...

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Aintree Hurdle

The New One 4/9
The New One (TNO) was unlucky to an extent at Cheltenham and is the best horse in this race. Indeed prior to Cheltenham I rated him clear of My Tent, The Fly, Jezki, Annie Get Your Gun, Un Der Trois and Uncle Tom Cobley and all. In the Champion he suffered a serious interference having just lost his position on the far side. The slow pace allowed him to be right there at the top of the hill and from there they kicked away from him. He then finished with a rattle albeit his hurdling looked rushed and was further behind My Tent Or Yours than at the top of the hill. How much effect that bad luck had, how much of the decision to let them kick away was directed by a rational decision for a breather for a horse who had had just made up ground, jockey brain atrophy or being outpaced was not asked of a visibly rattled Sam Twiston-Davies afterwards. Point is the race was not run to make his loss of ground by the fall of a rival necessarily fatal to his chances - it is a matter of guessing frankly not if he was unlucky but by how much. It's still form that has him well in over these.

In terms of the distance and this race well The New One has been beaten two out of three times at 2.5 miles - easily excused but still beaten nonetheless. His defeat in this race to Zarkandar looks less good in light of that one's form since and indeed the blowing away of previous year's form by TNO, My Tent and Jezki this year. He's also been beaten every time he has made a swift reappearance as a hurdler albeit running to form on the last occasion at Kempton that is good enough here.

Rock On Ruby 10/1
At peak was a 170 3 above TNO's current mark. Thrown into the Arkle after effectively beating 1 rival each in 2 races and looking as natural a chaser as a 300 pound man with a side strain. 2nd in Champion just over a year ago. Twice beaten over course and distance. Can see why people are making a case but seems the wrong trip, track, prep and on the decline to boot. I can see why many will EW him I just feel that this is not ideal and he is not as good as he was.

Diakali 10/1
Up to 158 after a fourth in the County. Has won over the trip in a Grade 1 in France beating Ptit Zig. Having led all his races was held up in the County and arguably ran a career best. Further progress gives him a chance to beat the rest if TNO is not at or near his best. It will be interesting if they front run here. Mullins' English raids often seem half-hearted but similar sort Thousand Stars went close in this three times.

Ptit Zig 14/1
Improved from loss to Diakali to win a French Grade 1. You could make an argument he is marginally better than Diakali and is OR 159. His win was in much slower ground in France than loss to Diakali -> 17 secs slower over the same course and distance. Has progressed via handicaps and a Grade 2 this year but out of his depth in the Champion.

Grandouet 12/1
Another returning from not being quite as good over fences. Well beaten in this last year and brought down in contention the year before. My feeling his time is past and again not sure in retrospect what his form is truly worth. Was 166 at peak, just 1lb off TNO.

Irish Saint 25/1
Progressive handicapper but still only 151. Has been kept fresh but was well beaten at Aintree last year and one who would likely need a deluge to be competitive. He needs all the above to run below form and to improve for me whatever the conditions.

Grumeti 40/1
Best novice form at Aintree when he reversed placings with Triumph winner Countrywide Flame two years ago. I have him as a pure two miler. 153 at best. I don't think he is quite good enough nor progressive before we get to trip questions.

Conclusion

Most likely result is a win for The New One and maybe an easy win. Nonetheless his erratic hurdling, having been beaten here last year, any trauma he suffered being balked at Cheltenham, the quick turnaround (which trainers of Annie Power, Jezki and My Tent Or Yours are not attempting it) makes me think at 4/9 he can be taken on. I'll probably not lay TNO as I don't have an overwhelming negative just a series of quibbles and questions.

If he is beaten I quite like Diakali and prefer 10s to 5/2 w/o TNO. Still progressing and feel his County was against well handicapped rivals and was his first start for 3 months not to mention he may have been unlucky not to be closer taking a bump before the last.

1pt Win Diakali at 10s.

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