17:25 Aintree: Wilton Milan can concoct a surprise Nicholls’ victory
Paul Nicholls is double-handed in an attempt to land the Silver Cross Handicap Hurdle and although his first string, Easter Day (7/1), makes plenty of appeal, the value could be found in the Daryl Jacob-ridden Wilton Milan at 12/1.
Bigger-priced horses have an excellent record in the race with only two winners of the last 11 renewals starting at single-figure odds, something that Ditcheat’s lesser light is unlikely to go off at.
The five-year-old has done very little wrong since making a winning British debut at Worcester last October and in his two runs since he has only been found out once in a hot race won by another French import, David Pipe’s Gevrey Chambertin.
The fact that Ruby Walsh has made the decision to ride Easter Day will be discouraging for many, but will be certain to guarantee an attractive price. Having Jacob doing the steering is a more than an adequate replacement regardless, with the talented pilot more than capable when an opportunity presents itself.
There is no doubt that the son of Milan requires improvement but the same can be said for almost all in opposition and at the odds he looks the value from the Somerset stable.
Another likely to break the tape at a bigger price of 16/1 is Double Ross from Nigel Twiston-Davies’ yard.
An impressive victory earlier on in the campaign in an equally competitive race at Cheltenham holds up well against a lot of the form on offer and despite being unable to finish better than third on four subsequent starts, that should not be reason to be deterred.
In each of those races there were at least a dozen runners, with two of them containing more than 21 and that experience in big fields could be pivotal in a race that is likely to be decided by small margins.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.