15.05 Aintree: Get ready for an Express delivery
Rajdhani Express is hitting form at the right time and looks to hold leading claims of providing trainer Nicky Henderson with his third successive winner in this 2m 4f contest.
The seven-year-old has won three of his 13 starts over fences, and looked a chaser to keep on the right side when winning the Rewards4Racing Novices’ Chase at last year’s Cheltenham Festival.
He followed up that success with a facile 15 length victory in a Grade 2 contest at Ayr, and has run well on both his starts this season.
In the first of those he finished fifth of 20 to John’s Spirit in the Paddy Power Gold Cup at Cheltenham, where he kept on to be beaten 8 1/2 lengths.
It was a highly promising comeback run, and he duly built on it last time out when a cracking third of 11 to Dynaste in the Ryanair Chase the the Cheltenham Festival.
The son of Presenting stayed on well after being slightly impeded at the last to be beaten just 4 1/2 lengths, and the form looks strong in the context of this contest following the winner’s excellent second in yesterday’s Betfred Bowl.
He is also entitled to improve again for that run, and with the trip and ground ideal a huge run looks assured.
His biggest dangers would appear to be Module and Wishfull Thinking.
The former ran very well at the Cheltenham Festival to finish a staying on third to Sire De Grugy in the 2m Queen Mother Champion Chase, leaving the impression that the step up to today’s trip would suit.
Before that he had shown good battling qualities to beat Dodging Bullets by a neck in the Game Spirit Chase at Newbury, and he is offically rated 168 and – 6lb and upwards clear of his rivals.
That suggests he is going to take all the beating, but the big worry is that he has had two very hard races which may well take their toll.
For that reason I think he is worth taking on with the lightly raced Rajdhani Express, and a bigger danger to the selection may well be Wishfull Thinking.
Philip Hobbs’ gelding has been a grand servant over the years and has a good record at Aintree.
He won the Manifesto Novices’ Chase in 2011 by 10 lengths from Medermit and also finished runner-up to Finian’s Rainbow in this contest in 2012.
The 11-year-old also ran well last time out when staying on to finish fifth in the Queen Mother Champion Chase over an inadequate 2m, and the extra four furlongs he tackles here is likely to see him in a far better light.