Five Horses That Skipped The Festival For Aintree

1. La Bague Au Roi

La Bague Au Roi has proved herself a quality mare over hurdles in the past and now over fences this season, winning four races in all including two Grade One's - one at Kempton in the Kauto Star, and one in Ireland at the Dublin Racing Festival.

Her trainer Warren Greatex made the sensible decision to skip the Festival last week, as there is just something between the mare and Cheltenham that does not agree or correlate.

With Topofthegame and Santini finishing one and two in the RSA Novices Chase at the Cheltenham Festival last week and Lostintranslation finishing second in the JLT, the form looks strong for the classy 8yo mare, having beaten them all at different points in the season.

Time for her to shine once again.

Credit - Racing TV

2. Emitom

Warren Greatrex did not have many runners at Cheltenham, and has another fine young individual to look forward to in the shape of The Spero Parternship-owned Emitom.

A flashy five-year-old who is unbeaten in two bumpers and three runs over hurdles, had to opt out of his Cheltenham entries after the equine flu saga resulted in his trainer being unable to give him sufficient experience on the track.

Instead he was sent to Newbury to make it five from five in a Class Four Novice Hurdle, and has options now to participate in the Mersey Novices’ Hurdle at Aintree, or a step up to three-miles for the Sefton Novices’ Hurdle at the same meeting to further enhance his profile.

Greatrex has valued this horse as one of those right up there with the best he has ever trained.

Credit - Racing TV

3. Rathvinden

Last year's winner of the four-mile National Hunt Challenge Cup chose to sidestep the Festival this time around, after his win at Fairyhouse in the Bobbyjo Chase demanded a bit of extra rest at home.

Five of the top six currently in the Grand National betting did take the chance to advance their claims for the world's greatest steeplechase at Cheltenham last week, with Tiger Roll and Anibale Fly most notably doing those no harm.

Bristol De Mai and Vintage Clouds also performed well, but opinions remain divided on whether going to Cheltenham is the best preparation before heading to Merseyside three weeks later.

Five of the last ten National winners did including Gordon Elliott's Tiger twelve months ago, whereas five did not.

Mullins is optimistic however with his chances having broke his Gold Cup duck last week, and has chosen to go down the same route he took with 2005 National hero Hedgehunter with this 11yo, who looks a big player.

Credit - Racing TV

4. Cyrname

Paul Nicholls has been in the form of his life of late, and that all started with Cyrname being named the best horse in National Hunt training, after his seventeen length romp of the Ascot Chase field back in February.

The dynamics of Cheltenham did not appear to suit for connections, who believe they will get the best out of him when back on a flatter and tighter track around the May course on Merseyside.

He could meet his future rival Altior in the Melling Chase over 2m4f should the latter step up to further than two miles for the first time.

Otherwise it could be the Betway Bowl Chase for Cyrname, if bidding to tackle three miles with one eye on the Gold Cup division next term.

Credit - Racing TV

5. Waiting Patiently

Waiting Patiently - one of the many horses well behind Cyrname in Berkshire, looks to have plenty to prove with Aintree possibly in mind.

He skipped Cheltenham after a dissatisfactory performance in the Ascot Chase almost six weeks ago, his first start since his unbeaten record was brought to an end when unshipping Brian Hughes at Kempton in the King George.

Does have plenty of ability, and is another who will favour the conditions in Liverpool.

A win may be much to ask if coming up against the best around again, but a better display will be expected if getting career back on track with next season in mind.