After the drama at Champions Day last week, the spotlight of this weekend’s racing turns from the flats of Ascot to the jumps of Aintree, with the Betfred Monet’s Garden Roan Chase taking centre stage.
The big race features a number of fine chasers with Paul Nicholls trained Pacha Du Polder (4/1) seemingly likely to head the betting.
The highly regarded 5-year-old scored on three of his five chasing starts over the bigger obstacles including an impressive victory in a grade 2 at Ayr and is likely to improve on his already solid form.
However, there is some serious opposition to Pacha Du Polder with seven of the 11 strong field, at odds of 12/1 or less.
Second favourite, For Non Stop (5/1), beat Pacha Du Polder at Newbury last year and looked like he had turned into a very impressive chaser by the end of the last season beaten only by Cue Card, Al Ferof and Sir Des Champs over fences.
Noel Fehily looks set to take the ride of the 7-year-old leaving behind a horse that he had previously rode to victory on seven occasions in Gauvain.
Gauvain, last year’s Peterborough Chase victor, moved stables over the off season from the yard of Nick Williams to Philip Hobbs. Hobbs stable jockey Richard Johnson will take the ride of top weight Wishful Thinking allowing Jason Maguire to take the Gauvain ride.
Wishful Thinking (7/1) was many punters one to follow last season after a very successful novice season, but nothing materialised from that form with the 9-year-old failing to score a victory.
However, apart from a bad fall in the Champion Chase, he has always seemed to jump with fluency last season like he has always done.
Should he rediscover any of the form from the 2010/11 season, he could be a serious contender despite him being top weight.
What will win this race will be who comes out the classiest out of a group of already classy chasers. And with other contenders including the return of Noble Prince (11/2), Nacarat (10/1) and Hector’s Choice (10/1), racing fans are in for a real treat in the 3.30 at Aintree this weekend.
Although the spotlight may have jumped ships, the flats are by no means forgotten this weekend with some seriously competitive racing at Doncaster and Newbury.
The Group 1 Racing Post Trophy is the 3.05 feature race at Doncaster and looks set to be a belter that sees Kingsbarns (2/1) and Van Der Neer (6/1) both put up their perfect records on the line.
But it is Steeler that looks to have the most promising form going into the race, already scoring in a Group 2 this year, and at 7/2 looks good value to continue that good form.