My idea of the best bet on Saturday is Riders Onthe Storm in the 2.05 at Aintree. Admittedly things didn’t go to plan for Riders Onthe Storm towards the end of last season, but the form he’d shown prior to that (for Tom Taaffe) suggests he’ll be capable of doing plenty of damage off a BHA mark of just 140. Throw in the fact that this physically-imposing six-year-old has been snapped up for £50,000 by Nigel Twiston-Davies since last seen and, all in all, he very much looks one to follow this autumn.
Current odds of around 6/1 look generous given the current form of his new yard.
This two-and-a-half-mile conditions hurdle has attracted a field of five but, in truth, it looks a two-horse race on paper. In theory, Top Notch is weighted to win but he ended last season under a cloud with two dismal displays (over both hurdles and fences), which is worrying for one with such an admirably consistent record otherwise.
As a result, Roksana looks by far the most solid option. She’s run two of her best races at the Merseyside track and, with further improvement not out of the question, represents reasonable value if any odds against are available.
Paul Nicholls has a strong hand with Present Man (bidding for hat-trick of Badger Beer wins) and the highly-regarded Give Me A Copper, but it may pay to side instead with another local trainer doubly-represented in this prestigious autumn prize. Colin Tizzard saddles the giant grey White Moon, who would have won at Wincanton on his reappearance but for a final-fence tumble, with the manner in which he went through that race suggesting he’ll be well ahead of his revised BHA mark.
However, current odds of around 3/1 are pretty skinny about a horse with a history of training problems (he’d undergone another breathing operation prior to that comeback), so the percentage call may be to side with his stable-companion Royal Vacation instead. Paddy Brennan’s mount has got plenty of experience in valuable staying handicaps and, in a race short on unexposed runners, looks a good each-way option at 16/1 with a recent run under his belt.