Gallant Walkon set for deserved success in Old Roan Chase
The National Hunt season has sparked into life in the past couple of weeks with the first Cheltenham meeting and Tony McCoy’s sensational five-timer at Carlisle to take him past the 100-winner mark. Aintree now opens its doors with the Monet’s Garden Old Roan Chase being the feature event at 3.05.
The race is of course named in honour of the popular grey steeplechaser and there is a real possibility that another grey will walk off with the prize tomorrow. Alan King’s Walkon has been a favourite with Aintree fans since winning the novice hurdle back in 2009.
That victory followed a game second to Zaynar in the Triumph Hurdle and he has proved to be equally effective over the larger obstacles. Remarkably for a horse that so often features in the big handicap chases, he still only has one novice success to his credit.
He is known to run best when fresh and was last seen finishing a gallant second to Trio D’Alene in the Topham Trophy in April. The weights are headed by Wishfull Thinking who won the Game Spirit Chase at Newbury last season.
He is also without a recent run, as is 50-1 Cheltenham winner Carrickboy who stunned punters with victory in the Byrne Group Plate in March. Edgardo Sol bolted up here in 2012 and has to be respected whilst Astracad could be coming into form at the right time.
Channel 4 is televising the feature event along with the opening handicap hurdle at 1.55. Harry Fry’s useful Karinga Dancer steps up from novice company and bids to complete a four-timer under Nick Scholfield.
The Veterans Chase at 2.30 could go to Fruity O’Rooney who has had a pipe-opener at Fontwell this month to put him straight. The promising Shutthefrontdoor makes his chasing debut in the 4.50 and should provide yet another winner for Tony McCoy.
The Champ also has sound claims aboard Regal Encore in the closing event. He runs in the colours of JP McManus and finished second to the highly regarded Briar Hill in the Cheltenham Champion Bumper.
Selections: 1.55 Karinga Dancer, 2.30 Fruity O’Rooney, 3.05 Walkon (NAP), 3.40 Saved By John, 4.15 Cruising Bye, 4.50 Shutthefrontdoor, 5.20 Regal Encore (nb)