A top week for horse racing fans as the three-day Aintree Grand National Meeting kicks-off on Thursday 4th April 2019 with the ITV cameras showing five races LIVE each day.
We get started on DAY ONE with the Betway Bowl, Aintree Hurdle and the Randox Health Foxhunters’ Chase are some of the key highlights so there is plenty to look forward to.
As always with the big meetings here at JuiceStorm we’ve all the key stats for the main LIVE ITV races – these will help build-up a better profile of horses that have done well in each race over the years.
Let’s get cracking…………………….
THURSDAY, 4th April 2019 (ITV/RacingTV)
2.20pm – Doombar Anniversary 4yo Juvenile Hurdle 4yo Grade 1 (Class 1) (4yo) 2m1f ITV
2018 Winner: WE HAVE A DREAM (2/1 odds)
Trainer: Nicky Henderson
Jockey: Daryl Jacob
14/16 – Ran at the Cheltenham Festival last time out
13/16 – Placed in the top three last time out
11/16 – Raced in the Triumph Hurdle (Cheltenham) last time out
10/16 – Returned 3/1 or shorter in the betting
7/16 – Winning favourites
5/16 – Won by trainer Alan King (4 of the last 12)
5/16 – Won last time out
3/16 – Won by trainer Paul Nicholls
2/16 – Ridden by Ruby Walsh
2/16 – Irish-trained winners
11/14 winners were placed at worst at the Cheltenham Festival
French-bred horses have won 11 of the last 20 (55%) runnings – including the last four.
13/19 winners raced in the Triumph Hurdle earlier that season
Just 5/29 winners hadn’t won at least twice over hurdles before
JUICESTORM VERDICT: Nine runners here, but it will be a shock if the winner isn’t coming from the top four in the market. The Paul Nicholls camp have a fine recent record in the race, with wins in 2011 and 2015 so their Christopher Wood is interesting. He looks the value call of the four at the top of the market and has been kept fresh for Aintree after bypassing Cheltenham. He’s won his two starts over hurdles so could be anything and connections must feel he’s up to this big rise in grade. Fakir D’oudairies was a fair fourth in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle last time at the Festival and should be better over this slightly longer trip. This Joseph O’Brien runner has a bit to find based on the ratings but still looks a big player – it will be a shock if he’s not involved. Band Of Outlaws also represents the O’Brien camp and the way be disposed of 20 others in the Fred Winter last time suggests he’s up to this rise in grade too. He’s a horse with a decent turn-of-foot and looks sure to be well-suited by the flat Aintree track – I wouldn’t put anyone off him. However, it’s horses that have run well in the Triumph Hurdle that season that have done well here, so, with that in mind, the winner of that Festival race – PENTLAND HILLS – gets the call. This Henderson-trained 4 year-old travelled well for much of that race and stayed on really well to win by 3 lengths. Yes, with the sad breakdown of Sir Erec in that race, the jury is still out on just how strong a renewal it was, but with 11 of the last 16 winners of this contest having run in the Triumph then Pentland Hills, who is also the top-rated in this field, gets a big thumbs-up on that front.
2.50pm – Betway Bowl Chase Grade 1 (Class 1) (5yo+) 3m1f ITV
2018 Winner: MIGHT BITE (4/5 fav odds)
Trainer: Nicky Henderson
Jockey: Barry Geraghty
14/16 – Didn’t win last time out
13/16 – Ran at the Cheltenham Festival last time out
10/16 – Ran in the Gold Cup (Cheltenham) last time out
9/16 – Placed in the top 4 last time out
6/16 – Aged in double-figures
4/16 – Won by the Pipe stable
4/16 – Winning favourites
4/5 – Won that season’s King George
15/35 (43%) winners were aged 10 or older
24/35 (69%) winners ran in that season’s Cheltenham Gold Cup
13/22 (59%) winners were placed fourth or better in that season’s King George VI Chase
2nd or 3rd favourites have won 13 of the last 26 (50%) renewals and 6 of the last 9 (67%)
4 of the last 8 winners had run in this race before
3 of the last 10 winners finished in the top 3 in that season’s Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury
JUICESTORM VERDICT: A small but select field for the Bowl this year, but still a fascinating contest with several chances. I feel that last season’s Ryanair winner – Balko Des Flos – has plenty to prove at the moment and that Gold Cup sixth – Elegant Escape – might just find things happening a bit too quick on this flatter track and shorter trip. Road To Respect can go well though after a fine third in the Ryanair last time. The longer trip will be fine and of the Gigginstown pair he’s got the better chance – with just one win from his last six though – he seems to be placed for often than winning. Kemboy unseated in the Gold Cup but with that tumble coming at the first fence then we wouldn’t have known if he’d have impacted that result. Prior to that he’s caught the eye with top wins at Clonmel and Leopardstown so if his jumping holds-up looks a big player for the Mullins/Walsh combination. King George winner – Clan Des Obeaux – will be popular too after just getting tired over the Gold Cup trip last time to be fifth. The flatter Aintree track and shorter trip look huge pluses and providing that last effort hasn’t left it’s mark then he’s another that can have a big say. However, the one that ticks more of the stats (all the top four above) is BRISTOL DE MAI. Yes, we all know this horse is better at Haydock, but he showed last time in the Gold Cup, when third, that he can perform away from that track. He was also second in this 12 months ago and is the joint top-rated in the field (with Clan Des Obeaux). From 22 starts over fences, this 8 year-old, has finished in the top three 18 times (8 wins) and with that last effort showing he’s just as good away from his beloved Haydock then the stats suggest he might be worth sticking with. Clan Des Obeaux, is the big danger though, in my book.
3.25pm – Betway Aintree Hurdle Grade 1 (Class 1) (4yo+) 2m4f ITV
2018 Winner: L’AMI SERGE (5/1 odds)
Trainer: Nicky Henderson
Jockey: Daryl Jacob
16/16 – Aged 8 or younger
13/16 – Returned 6/1 or shorter in the betting
12/16 – Ran at the Cheltenham Festival last time out
11/16 – Placed in the top 4 last time out
9/16 – Ran in the Champion Hurdle last time out
8/16 – Irish-trained winners, plus 18 of the last 42
5/16 – Winning favourites (2 joint)
4/16 – Ridden by Ruby Walsh
4/16 – Won last time out
4/16 – Won by trainer Nicky Henderson (4 of the last 8)
3/16 – Ridden by Barry Geraghty
10 of the last 13 winners (including last 7) had won a Grade 1 before
9 of the last 18 (50%) winners had won at this meeting before
Only 5 Champion Hurdle winners since 1999 have run – but 3 won
Every British-trained winner had raced at the Cheltenham Festival that season
Just 1 of the last 18 Champion Hurdle runner-ups to race have won
JUICESTORM VERDICT: Another great race in prospect. Faugheen, who was third in the Sun Racing Stayers’ Hurdle at Cheltenham, continues to run well into his twilight years and can go well, while Champion Hurdle runner-up – Melon – will like this longer trip and is another that can’t be dismissed. Melon has, however, won just one of his last 10 and that would be a worry. County Hurdle winner – Ch’tibello is another to consider but I’m not sure the step up to 2m4f in this company will suit. Cases at bigger prices can be made for the likes of Verdana Blue, Summerville Boy and Brain Power, while the normally-consistent Supasundae, who was second in this race last year, can be expected to run better than last time when flopping at Cheltenham. However, it’s hard to get away from the 2017 winner of this race – BUVEUR D’AIR. We last saw him taking a tumble in the Champion Hurdle after just getting to low at the third hurdle. He’s a slick jumper but because of that he can sometimes not leave much air between getting over the hurdles. He’s clearly none-the-worse for it though and the Henderson team are sure to have done plenty with him since. He’s the clear top-rated in the field (172) and has 8lbs in-hand on his nearest rival – Faugheen – so barring any accidents the two-time former Champion Hurdler can get back to winning ways here.
4.05pm – The Randox Health Fox Hunters´ Chase (Class 2) (6yo+) 2m5f ITV1
2018 Winner: BALNASLOW (11/2 odds)
Trainer: Graham John McKeever
Jockey: Derek O’Connor
16/16 – Aged 9 or older (Just 2 of the last 33 winners were younger than 9)
13/16 – Returned 13/2 or shorter in the betting
13/16 – Aged in double-figures
11/16 – Placed in the top 3 last time out
7/16 – Won last time out
6/16 – Ran in the Cheltenham Foxhunters’ last time out
5/16 – Winning favourites (1 joint)
2/16 – Ridden by Sam Waley-Cohen
Irish-trained runners have won 4 of the last 5 runnings
11 of the last 14 winners went off favourite or second favourite
22 of the last 26 winners had won a race earlier that season
Only 2 of the last 35 winners were aged younger than 9
22 of the last 26 (85%) winners came from the top 4 in the market
10 of the last 14 winners had run over these National-style fences before
Ex-handicap horses have won 11 of the last 17 (65%) renewals
JUICESTORM VERDICT: We are over the National-style fences for the first time at the meeting here in the Foxhunters. Road To Rome was a fine fourth in the Cheltenham Foxhunters and if taking to the fences can go well, but doesn’t look much value in a race like this – on a plus jockey Sam Waley-Cohen has won well in the race recently. Burning Ambition is another to note, but ALL of the last 16 winners were aged 9 or older – he’s still only 8. Top amateur jockey Jamie Codd will ride Ucello Conti so it’s easy to see why this one will be popular too. This shorter trip will help him after running fifth in the Cheltenham version and even though he’s experienced the fence before that did resulted in an unseat in the National last year – that would be a slight concern. Past winners – BALNASLOW (2018) and DINEUR (2017) look fair each-way options with proven form in the race and both are decent prices too. Recent Cheltenham third – Top Wood and Bear’s Affair, who was runner-up 12 months ago, are others with live chances too, while Greensalt (3rd), Distime (8th) and Sir Jack Yeats (9th) didn’t run too badly in last year’s renewal too. But the main call here is for the Gordon Elliott-trained KRUZHLININ (e/w) to go well. He gets a thumb-up for most of the main trends and heads here full of confidence after four straight wins in point-to-points. Yes, he was pulled up in the 2016 National but has completed when 10th in the 2014 National. This much shorter trip will help, so with plenty of experience of the fences and the fact he seems to have found a new lease of life in his older days, then he gets the nod.
4.40pm – Red Rum Handicap Chase Grade 3 (Class 1) (5yo+) 2m ITV
2018 Winner: Bentelimar (10/1 odds)
Trainer: Charlie Longsdon
Jockey: Jonathan Burke
15/16 – Aged 9 or younger
14/16 – Carried 11-1 or less
11/16 – Carried 10-13 or less
11/16 – Priced 10/1 or shorter in the betting
9/16 – Ran at the Cheltenham Festival last time out
9/16 – Aged 7 or younger
10/16 – Unplaced last time out
4/16 – Winning favourites (1 co)
3/16 – Won last time out
1/16 – Irish-trained winner
10 of the last 18 winners were Novices
15 of the last 19 winners were rated 139 or lower
Only 2 winners older than 9 years-old since 1988
4 of the last 11 winners were ridden by conditional jockeys
The top 5 in the betting have won 14 of the last 21 (67%) runnings
17 of the last 19 (89%) winners carried 11-2 or less
3 of the last 12 winners raced in the previous year’s race
7 of the last 20 (35%) winners ran in that season’s Johnny Henderson Grand Annual (Cheltenham)
JUICESTORM VERDICT: Eamon An Cnoic ran a cracker at Cheltenham in the Brown Advisory and won’t be bothered by dropping back to 2m here after winning well over this trip at Chepstow the time before. Brelan D’As ran a fine third in the Grand Annual last time and certainly has more trends on his side than most, while course winners Theinval and Diego Du Charmil (won at this meeting last year) have gone well here in the past, it’s just if they’ve got too much weight. I expect better from Whatswrongwithyou after running below-par last time in the Grand Annual – the slight worry is that be looks as if he might want a bit further. The two of interest though are LADY BUTTONS (e/w) and AZZURI (e/w). The former is back over fences after running fourth in the Mares’ Hurdle at the Festival but is just as good over the bigger obstacles. He says further than this 2m trip but is a strong-traveller that ran well at this meeting last season. Tommy Dowson can also claim a handy 3lbs. The other pick – Azzuri – has been well-supported in the week and with a lot of the main trends on his side then it’s easy to see why. This 7 year-old has had wind surgery since running in the Greatwood Gold Cup, but is also 5lbs lower and gets in with just 10-3 in weight. The better ground will suit and the midweek support suggest his recent wind-op might have brought some improvement at home.
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