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The Loader Look: Jonbon Is No Shishkin

The last few days have seen some great action, and I have to say I definitely preferred the Grand National meeting compared to Cheltenham. There was less buildup, and the racing itself was far more competitive and enjoyable.

With the Grand National, it’s fair to say there has been a mixed reaction to the race on social media, with some people saying it’s not the race it once was. I completely disagree with that opinion. I thought the race was one of the best renewals I have seen for a long time, as so many were in with a chance of winning just two fences from home. The changes seemed to work well, and it was great to see that all the horses returned home safely.

From a punting perspective, I Am Maximus was a good result for me, as I put him on my Grand National shortlist at 8/1. He was an impressive winner of the race, and he had a lot of things in his favour with him having his first spin around the National Fences and having a touch of class. I am not sure if he’d step up and run well in a Cheltenham Gold Cup next season, but he’d probably be competitive in a lot of the Graded races either side of the Irish Sea.

I also put up Kitty’s Light for Christian Williams, who ran a cracking race to finish fifth, rewarding each-way backers. It looks like he’ll be heading to Sandown to defend his title in the Bet365 Gold Cup on Jumps Finale Day, where he’ll have a strong chance..

Other talking points from Aintree were Jonbon returning to form. He put up a good fight to get the better of Conflated in the Melling Chase as he stepped up in trip to 2m4f for the first time. After the race, there was some talk of him possibly going for the King George at Kempton next season. 

For me, I am not sure he’d stay the trip; I don’t think he’s like Shishkin, who you could see needed a test of stamina for a long time. It will be interesting to see what connections do with him next season, but I’d be aiming for races like the Ryanair and Ascot Chase.

If I were looking for an ante-post bet for Cheltenham next year that came out of Aintree, I’d be interested in Firefox for the Turners Novice Chase. He’s run well, placing in both the Grade 1 Novice Hurdles at Cheltenham and Aintree over 2m. 

I think he’s possibly found the trip to be on the sharp side, and stepping him up in trip would see significant improvement as on both occasions he has been staying on well at the finish. Furthermore, if you look at his pedigree, he’s from the family of the Bosses Oscar, who has won over 3m, so it makes sense to try it. If you shop around, there is 25/1 out there, and he’s very much one I’d be keeping an eye on if Gordon Elliott decides to go novice chasing with him next season.

Elsewhere, one horse that went into my notebook was Insurrection for Paul Nicholls after he won at Hereford on Sunday. At first glance, you might say he’s been disappointing this season after he bolted up at Exeter back in November, as he’s not really kicked on. 

However, I feel the ground has been against him for much of the season and that he prefers good ground. If you look at the ground when he won at Exeter, it was good-to-soft, and it was even better at Hereford yesterday. Wherever he’s come unstuck this season, it has mostly been on heavy ground, so I think you can forgive him some of those runs.

Moreover, in the midst of the winter, he did finish third at Taunton in a hot novice hurdle hurdle where he had to give a stone to the subsequent Mares’ Novice Hurdle winner, Golden Ace, so that wasn’t a bad run. There is a good two-mile novices handicap hurdle at Sandown on Jumps Finale Day that Paul Nicholls might decide to run him in. If he did turn up there, he would be very much on my radar.

Moving on to this week, the Flat is about to go up another gear as Newmarket returns to the scene. One horse I am particularly interested in seeing there is Mill Stream for Jane Chapple-Hyam. He progressed well last season, running well, which included a Group 3 success in France, and he seemed to go in any ground. 

At the time of writing this, he is in the Abernant Stakes on Thursday, which looks like a good starting point for him. It looks competitive, but I think he’ll have a nice chance of running well, provided he’s fit and ready to go.

Elsewhere, Cheltenham and the Scottish National at Ayr are on the horizon this week, so you’ll be hearing more from me again soon.

Horses To Note 

Firefox (Gordon Elliott)

Insurrection (Paul Nicholls)

Mill Stream (Jane Chapple-Hyam)

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