18.40: Balder set for more Succes
British raider Balder Succes is on a serious upward curve and looks to hold major claims of rounding of his season in style be lowering the colours of the favourite Champagne Fever.
The Alan King trained six-year-old landed a brace of Grade 2 victories at Warwick and Kempton, after which his handler decided to sidestep the Arkle at the Cheltenham and wait for Aintree.
The decision paid off big time, with Balder Succes only having to be dirven out on the run-in to comfortably beat Simply Ned by four lengths in the Grade 1 Maghull Novices’ Chase.
The son of Goldneyev holds Trifolium and Moscow Mannon, who finished third and fourth respectively, on that running and there is no reason why those two rivals should turn the tables this afternoon.
The form looks rock solid, and King had considered running Balder Succes against his elders in the Champion Chase on the opening day of this meeting on the back of it.
However, he has decided to wisely to stick to novice company and if turning up in the same form as on Merseyside then Balder is going to be extremely tough to beat.
The Willie Mullins trained Champagne Fever is the obvious danger.
The grey is class act, as he showed when winning the Champion Bumper at the Cheltenham Festival in 2012 and followed up in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle a year later when out battling My Tent Or Yours.
The seven-year-old scored easily on his chasing debut in a modest contest at Thurles, but then got turned over at 8/15 when finishing just third to Defy Logic in the Grade 1 Racing Post Novice Chase at Leopardstown.
The gelding then got beat a head by Western Warhorse in the Arkle at the Cheltenham Festival in what didn’t look the strongest renewal.
The form of that race is not working out well, although there is not much to choose between Champagne Fever and Balder Succes on a line through the third home Trifolium.
The selection, however, comes into the contest with more experience under his belt and in top form and that may well be the deciding factor on this occasion.
For those looking to take on the “big two”, God’s Own could well be the answer.
Trainer Tom George has specifically saved the six-year-old for the race since being beaten just 1 1/4 lengths by Balder Succes at Kempton back in February.
The gelding is best going right-handed, and the with Barry Geraghty in the saddle for the first time would not have to improve much to play a major role in proceedings.