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2018 Aintree Hurdle - Moore's 33/1 outsider can produce shock Aintree success

Brian Healy gives his runner-by-runner verdict on the big-race field for this afternoon's Aintree Hurdle, one of four Grade One contests on a cracking opening day racecard.

The fourth and final Grade One contest of the opening day of the 2018 Aintree Grand National meeting, the Aintree Hurdle goes to post at 3.25pm where a field of nine declared runners go to post to compete over a trip of 2m 4f for a winners’ prize in excess of £140,000.

Some top-class winners of this race in recent years feature on the roll-of-honour, including reigning champion and dual-Cheltenham Champion Hurdle winner Buveur D’air, as well as the likes of Annie Power, Jezki, Zarkandar and dual-winner Oscar Whisky.

Nigel Twiston-Davies’ The New One (9/2, William Hill) has also won this contest, taking the spoils in 2014, and the King’s Theatre gelding returns in a bid to regain his crown.

He has been in good fettle since returning to action this term, winning the West Wales Champion Hurdle prior to a trio of in-the-frame efforts at Cheltenham twice and Kempton where he finished adrift of Buveur D’air.

The ten-year old resumed winning ways when out-pointing Ch’tibello at Haydock back in January, digging deep to win having looked likely to lose out; but he shaped like a non-stayer over three miles of the Stayers’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival last month.

Back down in trip, he ought to prove more of a threat at this distance; although drying ground won’t be in his favour. Similarly, Clyne (33/1, Paddy Power) will want softer conditions than might be the case at Aintree on Thursday, but Evan Williams’ charge has a bit to find on form with Twiston-Davies’ charge having twice found that one too good this term already.

The Hernando gelding was progressive last term, well-suited by a softer surface, and he posted a solid third on his final start last term in the Betfair Hurdle having won four times on the spin previously.

However, he has come up short this term behind both The New One and  Old Guard; while he did win at Uttoxeter last time, that was at a lower level than this contest, and he will need to find considerable improvement.

The New One bids to win a second Aintree Hurdle.
Air Horse One (22/1, William Hill) was another progressive one last term, winning three times, and Harry Fry’s charge returned to action with a solid fourth behind Elgin at Ascot back in November.

The Mountain High gelding has subsequently made the frame in three of his four starts since, disappointing only in the Grade Three Racing Welfare Hurdle at Ascot behind Hunters’ Call; but he most recently chased home the resurgent Old Guard at  Fontwell in the National Spirit Hurdle, to confirm himself in good heart.

This is much tougher however, and he is likely to struggle at this level to get competitive.

DIAKALI (33/1, Boylesport) was smart for Willie Mullins, winning his share of races and performing with credit in Graded company during his time at Closutton, including finishing third behind The New One in this race when the latter took the prize in 2014.

He hasn’t been seen since scoring over Stars Over The Sea at Fairyhouse last April, and he has subsequently joined Gary Moore. A dual-Grade One winner in his younger days, he has gone well fresh in the past, and the Sinndar gelding could prove a lively outsider if able to show his best.

Cyrus Darius (33/1, Ladbrokes) has proven smart over both hurdles and fences, and the Overbury gelding returns here having won at Kelso in February  when beating Better Getalong by twelve lengths over the smaller obstacles; Ruth Jefferson’s charge had scored over fences at Ayr earlier in the season.

A progressive hurdler a couple of seasons back, winning five of his first six starts, his sole defeat came at the hooves of The New One at Haydock; subsequently he failed to fire in the Champion Hurdle when Buveur D’air won the first of his two Champion Hurdle titles.

He impressed with the way he went about his business to win the Morebattle Hurdle last time out, and he has won over this trip over fences; with ground unlikely to pose an issue, he can run well, although he is another who will need to find some improvement if he’s to score.

Ruth Jefferson sends Cyrus Darius in pursuit of Grade One glory at Aintree.
French raider Izzo (40/1, Ladbrokes) looks outclassed at this level, and despite winning at Listed level in his native land, the Tertullian gelding was disappointing last time in lesser company than this.

He will need a herculean effort to land this prize; Supasundae (11/10, William Hill) however ought to go close, and Jessica Harrington’s charge has shown himself this term to be a high-class performer, beating Faugheen to win the Irish Champion Hurdle at Leopardstown back in February, having made the classy Apple’s Jade pull out all the stops in the Christmas Hurdle previously.

The Galileo gelding found only Penhill too strong in the Stayers’ Hurdle last month, just outstayed by that rival up the hill; and he went close at this meeting twelve months ago when finding only Yanworth too strong in the Ryanair Stayers’ Hurdle, beaten one length. The drop back in distance will suit him, and he’ll go on any ground; he is a serious player in this contest, and he ought to prove hard to beat if running to a similar level as in recent outings.

My Tent Or Yours (6/1, William Hill) has shown he retains all his ability, and Nicky Henderson’s charge snapped a losing streak of eleven defeats when getting the better of The New One to win the International Hurdle at Cheltenham back in December.

The Desert Prince gelding has shown himself to be a fragile sort who doesn’t stand a lot of racing, and he missed Cheltenham with a niggle; but he will arrive here fresh, and with ground unlikely to pose an issue then he can post another big run.

He is yet to win at this trip however, and he has looked as if this trip stretched him twelve months ago behind Buveur D’air; while sure to run his race again, others may just prove stronger at the finish.

My Tent Or Yours can run a big race for Nicky Henderson.
Completing the line-up, L’ami Serge (7/1, Paddy Power) is a talented yet frustrating customer who often finds little for pressure despite usually travelling strongly into his races.

The second of Nicky Henderson’s runners in the race, his last win came when beating Alex De Larredya at Auteuil last June over three miles; this term has seen him make the frame twice over hurdles at Ascot which includes behind Sam Spinner in the Long Walk Hurdle, and at Doncaster when sent back over fences in the Sky Bet Chase where he was beaten less than one length into third behind Wakanda.

He ran better than the bare result in the Stayers’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival last month, eventually finishing eighth having been hampered; but he needs things to drop right for him, and he has shown himself not to be the heartiest of battlers. 


Supasundae ought to be hard to beat given his form this term behind Apple’s Jade and Penhill, and his defeat of Faugheen; while veterans The New One and My Tent Or Yours are both entitled to be in the mix.

However, a chance is taken on the returning DIAKALI (33/1, Boylesport, each-way) to post a big run on his debut for Gary Moore, with the classy Sinndar gelding having changed hands out of the Willie Mullins yard.

A dual-Grade One winner in his prime for the Closutton handler, he was beaten only a neck behind The New One in this race back in 2014; he has been lightly raced since, but clearly he has had troubles, and he made the track only twice last term, winning at Fairyhouse on his second start of the campaign.

All ground comes alike to the son of Sinndar who has won on both good and heavy ground, and his record when fresh is strong with wins first time up in three of his five seasons as a hurdler.

He’s not been seen since posting that latest win over Stars Over The Sea at Fairyhouse twelve months ago, where he won easily; if he retains his ability returning from another absence then he could out-run big odds on his debut for Gary Moore, and he is chanced as a lively outsider.

2018 AINTREE HURDLE SELECTION - DIAKALI (33/1, Boylesport, each-way

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2018 Aintree Hurdle - Moore's 33/1 outsider can produce shock Aintree success

Brian Healy gives his runner-by-runner verdict on the big-race field for this afternoon's Aintree Hurdle, one of four Grade One contests on a cracking opening day racecard.

Read more »

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