Aintree 2015: One Stop Energy Handicap Hurdle preview (17:10)
Baltimore Rock caught the eye last time out, and looks decent each-way value in a competitive and wide open renewal of the One Stop Energy Handicap Hurdle at Aintree (17:10).
The six-year-old has only had eight starts over the obstacles, winning twice and finishing placed on two occasions.
In the last of those successes, the David Pipe trained gelding looked one to keep onside when landing the 2014 running of the Imperial Cup at Sandown off a mark of 125.
Baltimore Rock travelled ominously well in what is traditionally an ultra-competitive 2m 1f handicap, and found plenty for Tom Scudamore’s urgings to beat Gassin Golf by more in hand than the one length winning margin suggests.
The runner-up is a fair sort who has gone on to finish third in this year’s renewal of the Imperial Cup, and the pair finished 4 1/2 lengths in front of the highly talented Vibrato Valtat.
That form is strong in the context of this contest, and Baltimore Rock rounded off last season with a highly creditable fourth to Josses Hill in a Grade 2 affair over course and distance.
Although now 12lb higher than when winning the Imperial Cup, Baltimore Rock is the type who should have more to offer and shaped as if coming to hand last time out in the County Handicap Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival when keeping on nicely to finish seventh of 24 to Wicklow Brave.
That run, just his second of the season, should have put Baltimore Rock spot on for this and, with the highly talented claimer Kieron Edgar in the saddle taking 5lb off his back, everything looks in place for a huge run.
There are plenty of dangers, including The Game Changer who represents in-form Irish trainer Gordon Elliott.
This gelding has some solid form to his name in big field handicaps, and didn’t finish far behind Baltimore Rock when ninth in the County Hurdle.
The six-year-old was heavily backed for that contest and his cause was not helped by a mistake at the second which left him playing catch-up.
Prior to that, The Game Changer had ran well when third to Rebel Fitz in a Grade 2 contest at Tipperarry, and he is just 7lb higher in the weights than when posting a cracking effort to finsih third of 20 to Thomas Edison in last year’s valuable Galway Hurdle.
In a race which should be run to suit, The Game Changer looks a big player based on the latter.