Finian’s Rainbow is the reigning Champion Chaser and, consequently, is likely to trade as the favourite for this contest.
This step up in trip appears to be more of an afterthought than any long-term plan. Nicky Henderson has often stated that he thinks his horse is a specialist two-miler and has supported that view by campaigning him over the minimum trip in all eight of his chases thus far.
Although he will have some sort of chance of winning this race he is, nevertheless, the ideal sort to oppose. He will be shorter in the market than he should be due to his two-mile form and this strong traveller will find it difficult to stay on the bridle all the way up the long Aintree straight.
Poquelin has an excellent record round Cheltenham and is one of the highest rated horses in the race at 168. However, his record at Aintree reads 3U7U2 and he would be rated well below his current mark if assessed purely on his form away from Prestbury Park.
It has been quite some time since we saw the best of Wishfull Thinking, who blotted his copy book once again with an early fall in the Champion Chase. If he returned to his best he would have every chance but, until he shows something on the racetrack, he is better off watched for the time being.
Likewise, Kauto Stone and Kalahari King are not without a chance at their best but could not be supported with confidence on the strength of their most recent efforts. However, any significant rain would certainly increase the chances of victory for the Paul Nicholls horse Kauto Stone who, despite his last time out fall, would be one of few serious contenders for the race given testing conditions.
Forpadydeplasterer should again run well for a long way without being good enough to win.
If the ground is officially good then Albertas Run holds very strong claims. His spring form on quicker ground since dropping back to this trip is of the highest order and, in my opinion, given his ground he would have a favourite’s chance. The downside with him is his poor record on ground officially described as good to soft and soft and it is possible that the going will be too testing for him; therefore, we need to make our decision on the day of the race with Albertas Run.
This could turn out to be the strongest betting race of the week for me. The outcome of this race will depend on the weather between now and Friday. If the ground is good Albertas Run will hold powerful claims and, with the presence of Finian’s Rainbow, he could even be an each-way price. In those circumstances he would be a very strong each-way bet.
In the event of plenty of rain hitting Liverpool, Kauto Stone would have to come into the equation. The softer the ground the stronger his chances and, although he has put in a couple of below-par runs lately, given his conditions he would be one of very few horses in the race certain to act on the ground and stay the trip.