17.25 Aintree: On The Bridge the one to be on
A real tough handicap for punters to solve, and On The Bridge could well be the answer following a solid run last time out at The Cheltenham Festival.
The nine-year-old has improved out of all recognition since joining the Jeremy Scott yard in 2012, winning seven times – five over hurdles and twice over fences.
He shaped with plenty of promise on his seasonal reappearance when running on strongly to finish a never nearer three length fourth of 20 to Trackmate at Cheltenham, and was then put away be his handler to be kept fresh for a crack at the Pertemps Final at the Cheltenham Festival.
The son of Milan ran with tremendous credit in the 23-runner contest, staying on from well off the pace to finish a 3 3/4 lengths sixth to Fingal Bay in a driving finish.
He finished just one place and 1 3/4 lengths behind Jetson, and now meets that rival on 6lb better terms.
That could well be enough to see him reverse the placings, especially with Matt Griffiths in the saddle taking a further 3lb off his back.
The way he was finishing off in the Pertemps also suggests that the extra furlong in this 3m 1f contest should not be a problem, and the fact that he has been very lightly raced this season is another plus.
There are dangers aplenty in an ultra-competive 22-runner contest, and two others that look to hold leading claims are Doctor Harper and Two Rockers.
The former is trained by David Pipe and won three of his four starts over hurdles before posting a career-best effort last time out when third of 16 to Brave Vic in a valuable handicap final at Sandown.
He raced up with the pace that day, and a return to a less testing track which is more suited to speed could well see him in a far better light and improve again.
The Alan King trained Two Rockers got no further than the first last time out at Ascot but had previously shaped as if he had a race like this in him when an eye-catching ninth of 17 to Gevrey Chambertin in a hot handicap at Haydock.
The lightly seven-year-old won his first three starts over hurdles in 2012, with the last of those coming in a Grade 2 contest at Haydock, remains unexposed and clearly has a touch of class.