The jumps season is now in that lull between the Cheltenham Festival and Grand National and the Flat has not begun in earnest. The racing on Saturday is ordinary but it would be good to win a few bob to bolster your betting bank ahead of Aintree’s biggest meeting of the season. Naas stages a decent Flat card on Sunday which features two Group 3 contests and the best horse in action is Capri in the Alleged Stakes. The horse is trained by Aidan O’Brien and has in impeccable pedigree.
Britain’s Flat season begins like a damp squib. The Lincoln at Doncaster is a lucrative mile handicap and the first leg of the Spring Double. Only one jockey has won the Lincoln and the second leg, the National. One race is run over eight furlongs on the level while the other is the longest race in the calendar. Without researching both races I think it’s safe to assume no horse has run in both races. Graham Lee won the Grand National in 2004 and he now rides on the Flat so he could win both races.
There is a four week gap between Cheltenham and Aintree this year which means more horses can take up engagements at both meetings. Gold Cup winner Native River won’t run until next season but Buveur D’Air, Altior and Might Bite appear in ante post betting for Grade 1 races at Aintree. Total Recall is vying for favouritism with Blaklion in National betting. The horse ran well in the Cheltenham Gold Cup for most of the race before falling at the third last. There was no chance of beating the first two but Total Recall could have made the frame.
In the past Cheltenham form did not always translate to similar races at Aintree. The tracks are like chalk and cheese, with Cheltenham undulating and galloping and Aintree flat and tight. Many horses who have run well at the festival have run below their true form less than a month later at Aintree. Due to the date of Easter the National meeting is later in April than usual but more Cheltenham horses could run.
The Flat season in Ireland starts with more meaningful races than in Britain. Ireland’s major National Hunt meeting is at Punchestown at the end of the month but there are Group races on the Flat in the meantime. It’s rare for horses to run at three major spring jumps festivals so it was a huge achievement for On The Fringe to win at all three in two consecutive years, in 2015 and 2016. Sprinter Sacre did the treble in 2013. Potentially, Buveur D’Air and Altior could do same this season.
Capri is the standout horse at Naas on Sunday and should win the Alleged Stakes (4.20). The race is run over 10 furlongs, horses aged four and older are eligible and Group winners have a penalty. Capri won the St Leger at Doncaster last September and that race is a Group 1 so the horse carries the maximum penalty. Capri ran poorly in the Arc but is back in his comfort zone at Naas where a win is on the cards ahead of a potentially lucrative remainder of the season.