Lion can help Twiston-Davies roar again


Nigel Twiston-Davies has been firing in the big-race Saturday afternoon winners this season and the Naunton handler looks primed again with Blaklion in the Becher Chase at Aintree.

Last season it was Colin Tizzard that enjoyed a run of Saturday afternoon success and now it seems the affable Twiston-Davies is the man in the spotlight.

Two of his big wins have come via the grey Bristol De Mai in the Charlie Hall at Wetherby and then, by a record-breaking margin, in the Grade 1 Betfair Chase at Haydock.

While it would be folly to treat that form literally, it does still bear consideration that Blaklion was the horse giving his stablemate most to do at Wetherby when finishing second in the Charlie Hall.

That form now reads rather well and last season’s Grand National fourth, Blaklion, is tipped at 5/2 to win over the National fences in the Becher Chase.

Blaklion kept some really good company throughout last season, running gallantly in defeat behind the likes of Native River, Definitly Red and Vieux Lion Rouge, and this race is right up his street, with stamina set to be tested.

There’s also Grade 2 action on the Aintree card in the form of the Many Clouds Chase, named after Oliver Sherwood’s much-loved and ill-fated former Grand National hero.

It would be poignant should Many Clouds’ owner Trevor Hemmings see Cloudy Dream (4/1) oblige, but the trip in excess of three miles doesn’t appear to be something he’s crying out for.

The claims of Brian Ellison’s Definitly Red (6/4 favourite) are much tougher to ignore although the nod goes to Irish raider Alpha Des Obeaux who is 7/2 to win for Mouse Morris.

He scored in Grade 2 company last time out and his runner-up finish behind Total Recall at Limerick in October also has a more appealing look to it after that rival swooped to win the Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury a week ago.

He’s just shy of top class but his form this season looks good and, despite conceding weight all round, Alpha Des Obeaux is fancied to score for Gigginstown House Stud.

The Tingle Creek takes centre stage on a promising card at Sandown and, with some high-profile absentees, 8/13 favourite Fox Norton is fully expected to take his chance for trainer Colin Tizzard and returning rider Robbie Power.

Power will then be in action on Sunday in Ireland where the John Durkan Memorial Chase offers a thrilling clash between reigning Cheltenham Gold Cup hero Sizing John and Djakadam.

Not much split the pair at Punchestown in April and while Willie Mullins’ charge is chasing a hat-trick in this race and Sizing John is coming right back in trip, Jessica Harrington’s charge was regularly second best to Douvan over two miles and looks the one to be on here at 11/8 in what should be a cracking renewal.

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