Racing Expert & Columnist
Alex Hammond Blog: Good Friday Preview and Tips
Last Updated: 12/04/17 4:22pm
Alex Hammond reflects on Aintree and looks ahead to the Good Friday action at Lingfield, where Tomily is tipped to go well.
What did you make of One For Arthur's win in the Randox Health Grand National?
Well, it's been said many times over the past few days, but wasn't it great to see all the horses and jockeys come back safe? That's not to say the great race wasn't without drama. Especially if you backed Definitly Red or Ucello Conti (the latter is starting to owe me a few quid!).
I managed to have a few bets in the race and the only one that gave me a return was Blaklion who ran a cracker to finish fourth. He travelled into it looking like the winner, but like so many before him, ran out of steam.
One For Arthur wasn't one that I had money on, although my Dad tells me he backed the horse as his father was called Arthur; all those hours of studying wasted, I should have taken the same view!
It was a magnificent result, even though I failed to find the winner. Lucinda Russell flew the flag for trainers not just in the North, but north of the border.
Northern jump racing has been spoken of in the past few years as though the sword of Damocles were hanging over it, so this was a great result for anyone that trains north of the Trent.
Russell has quite rightly had praise heaped upon her and has been described as one of the greatest trainers of a staying chaser. Well, no one could argue with that after Saturday's result.
The addition of the Two Golf Widows as 'Arthur's' owners added to a memorable story and buying this horse was more than adequate compensation for two ladies whose husbands spend plenty of time on the greens.
Who else caught your eye at Aintree?
I was particularly impressed by Defi Du Seuil who was one of a handful of horses to achieve the Cheltenham/Aintree double by winning the 4yo Juvenile Hurdle. He's 7-7 over hurdles and unbeaten since joining Philip Hobbs from France.
Buveur D'Air also achieved the famous Cheltenham/Aintree double by adding to his Champion Hurdle victory in the Aintree Hurdle and in the process emulating the mighty Istabraq and Annie Power in winning both.
I fancy this horse to win at Prestbury Park and again in Liverpool and once he got his head in front he asserted to beat stablemate My Tent Or Yours once more. As JP McManus owns both it will be interesting to see if Defi Du Seuil stays over hurdles and takes on the current champion next March, or sent over fences by Hobbs to go down the Arkle route. I'd be keen to see him kept over hurdles, if you're listening JP.
It looks like Nicky Henderson's trainers' title now - how much have you enjoyed the duel with Paul Nicholls?
Who doesn't love a real tussle? Nicholls held off a strong challenge from Willie Mullins last season, but says he has conceded defeat to Nicky Henderson with just over £300,000 between them.
Nicholls is a winner, a 10-time champion in fact, and I bet your bottom dollar that it isn't over in his mind until the final day at Sandown at the end of this month.
It looks a tough task to reel in the only trainer to break his run of championship titles, but not impossible. I suppose there are two ways of looking at it; I haven't backed either to win the championship, so I'm happy for it to run to the bitter end, the closer the better.
On the other hand, I backed Chelsea to win the Premier League at the beginning of the season and the further clear they are in the table, the better! So, if you have backed a Henderson win, good luck, but I hope you have no fingernails left by April 29.
All-weather championship finals at Lingfield on Good Friday - what are your fancies?
This day has really evolved and with £1m in prize money we can look forward to some top class racing.
I've started to have a good look at the fields in preparation for a trip to the Surrey track to present the coverage for At The Races alongside fellow columnist Mike Cattermole and this is a day not to be missed.
In fact, the meetings at Newcastle and Bath are also excellent and all three are live on Sky channel 415, so hopefully Mike and I can bring you plenty of winners throughout the afternoon.
The horses that leap out at me at the moment and who will be burdened with the weight of my cash are Ennaadd in the Mile, who looks to all intents and purposes to be a banker on the day for Roger Varian and Andrea Atzeni.
At the moment I can't split Second Thought and Tomily in the 3yo Sprint, but hopefully the chat on track will help me make up my mind.
The William Haggas-trained Second Thought should suit the strongly run six furlongs he'll get on Friday and Richard Hannon's Tomily has been in good form and ran a decent race under top weight in a Newcastle handicap last time out.
I think if you're quick then Tomily still looks to offer some each-way value (7/1 with Sky Bet).
Then in the big finale, the Easter Classic, this looks a fascinating clash between the quirky, but talented Convey for Sir Michael Stoute and Archie Watson's mare Absolute Blast. My heart would love to see the mare win it, but Convey will be a tough nut to crack.
There are some really smart horses declared at Newcastle too and it should be a brilliant afternoon's sport.
Give us a horse to follow this Flat season…
Well, I've had a scout round and think the Godolphin recruit Barney Roy is one to follow this season for Richard Hannon.
He has only run once before, when winning at Haydock back in September, but he made a good impression that day. He quickened nicely in that one mile maiden, pulling away from the rest at the end and that experience will have stood him in good stead going into this campaign.
He has been snapped up by the 'Boys in Blue' and is held in high regard by his trainer. He still holds entries in the 2000 Guineas and Dante and will begin his season in the Greenham on the 22nd of this month.
He's a colt I'm looking forward to seeing this season and is currently 25/1 with Sky Bet for the first classic in early May.