It is meant to be one of the trickiest doubles in horse racing. However, a number of horses will attempt to back up their Cheltenham form with success at Aintree later this week. We have assessed their chances below, with a number competing against one another.
Jonbon (2.20 Friday)
No horse would have lived with Constitution Hill in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle last month, so Jonbon’s effort in the race can almost certainly be upgraded.
The primary reason is that he attacked the brutal pace set by Dysart Dynamo and, as a result, was towing his stablemate into the race behind him. That he did not completely weaken off what ended up being a record-setting gallop is to his credit and he held off some useful horses in behind as well.
The big question he has to answer here is how much that might have taken out of him. He would have expended maximum effort at Cheltenham, and there are some fresh horses against him, namely El Fabiolo of Willie Mullins’.
Nevertheless, Jonbon is setting a very high standard at the top of the market here and could easily be versatile in terms of how he is ridden too.
L’Homme Presse (2.55 Friday)
An emphatic winner of the Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase, L’Homme Presse did not initially look like arriving at Aintree.
However, Venetia Williams has recently voiced that particular possibility after rain began to fall in Liverpool over the weekend. Her charge has gone from strength to strength this season, stepping up in both class and trip, but handling each with aplomb.
There appeared to be a lot left in the tank when he scooted up the hill at Cheltenham and he certainly possesses the ability to follow up here. The ground did get very soft that day though and he may have had a tougher race than it visually seemed.
Moreover, he may have to contend with Paul Nicholls’ Bravemansgame here, who skipped Cheltenham after being pulled out on the day. Similarly, L’Homme Presse has raced five times already this season. Burnout will have to be pushed back an extra moth if he is to succeed here.
Edwardstone (3.00 Saturday)
Edwardstone was the second rampant British-trained winner in a row to kick off the Cheltenham Festival last month.
A phenomenal season for Alan King’s eight-year-old has seen him win five on the bounce, taking to jumping at the second attempt better than could ever have been wished for. He was a very useful hurdler, but he has now won two Grade 1s over the larger obstacles.
His Arkle success was facile, as despite suffering early interference from Brave Seasca’s fall, his relentless galloping continued thoroughly up the hill, as he defeated Gabynako by 4¼ lengths.
A flat or undulating 2m trip are equally within his range and it will take a very good one to challenge him even after a relatively short absence.
Flooring Porter/Thyme Hill (3.35 Saturday)
The Stayers’ Hurdle 1-2 are both currently engaged (as is fourth-placed Champ) in the Liverpool Hurdle on Saturday.
This is the Grade 1 feature of the day and was won by Thyme Hill last year. A mistake at the second last almost gave away too much momentum in favour of Roksana, but Tom O’Brien galvanised him back up the running to defeat Dan Skelton’s mare.
That was his second Grade 1 success, but despite being quietly fancied, he could not add a third at Cheltenham. Flooring Porter was simply too strong from the front under a perfectly judged ride from Danny Mullins.
Gavin Cromwell’s seven-year-old was securing back-to-back renewals of the Cheltenham showpiece, ultimately dispatching his rivals quite cosily. Mullins judged a similarly brilliant race from the front, though incredibly it was his first victory since triumphing in 2021.
The left-handed track would have been key, as well as getting off on level terms with Klassical Dream, and he should have few issues coping with Aintree.