HAVE a San-tastic bet in the Topham Chase over Aintree’s big fences at 4.05.
SAN BENEDETO ran close to his personal best when winning the red-hot Greatwood Gold Cup at Newbury last time out.
He kept up a good gallop over the 2m4f trip there and wasn’t stopping as he fought off his rivals on the run-in. That was a real return to form for a chaser who looked destined for the very top earlier in his career.
And one of his finest hours came on the Mildmay course at Aintree when he took the Grade 1 Maghull Novices’ Chase before holding his own in plenty of top chases over the next 18 months.
His jumping is usually good and he’s yet to fall over fences or hurdles, which is a bonus taking on this unique challenge.
The handicapper has nudged him up the weights for that Newbury win but he’s still well short of his highest mark and stepping up to this sort of distance has given him a new lease of life.
Janika will be popular thanks to a pair of excellent seconds at Cheltenham heading here. His better effort came when second in the Festival Plate last time where he finished strongly up the hill.
That was just his third run since moving over from France and there should be a lot more to come. He is carrying more weight than most Topham winners but could be a Graded performer in waiting.
Flying Angel is a quirky type but this challenge brought out the best in him when he was 10th in this last year. He’s 6lb lower in the weights today and could run into a place at rewarding odds.
POLITOLOGUE can retain his Melling Chase crown at 3.25.
He comes here on the back of an excellent second in the Queen Mother Champion Chase at Cheltenham last time out.
Despite being relatively unfancied by punters he gave Altior something to think about before filling the runner-up spot. That was a big improvement on his distant fourth in the same race before coming here to win 12 months ago.
He beat Min there — like he did at the Festival latest — and the Willie Mullins runner should put in another good effort.
A bigger danger though could be Waiting Patiently. He hasn’t hit last season’s heights yet and was below his best at Ascot last time before swerving Cheltenham.
This flat track should be right up his street and this trip brings out the best in him. He looks a short price on his recent form but the talent is there.
SOUTHFIELD STONE can blow away his rivals in the Top Novices’ Hurdle (2.20).
He swerved Cheltenham after running away with the Grade 2 Dovecote at Kempton in February. That was the sort of effort that would have put him right in the picture for the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle but connections feel a flat track like Aintree suits him best.
He gets the chance to show that today and he put a useful yardstick like Angels Dream in his place last time.
Precious Cargo looks a big threat after taking a big step forward to win at Sandown last time out. That was just his second run over hurdles so there should be a lot more to come.
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CHAMP had to settle for second in the Ballymore at the Cheltenham Festival but looks hard to beat in the 4.40.
It was still an excellent effort to be runner-up and this step up in distance looks a wise move. He looks made for 3m and he enjoyed himself with a couple of wins around Newbury so should relish this speed track.
Emitom is the rising star who is taking a big step up in class today. He made it five wins from five starts when winning at Newbury last time and is another who could find more over this longer trip.
Richard Johnson shares his Grand National memories after riding for over two decades without ever getting his hands on the trophy