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  • Aintree Best Bets: Jonbon To Edge Showdown With Pic D’Orhy, Easy Game Looks Overpriced

Aintree best bets: Jonbon to edge showdown with Pic D’Orhy, Easy Game looks overpriced

Marking the midpoint of the Aintree Festival, this Grade 1 race should prove that quality beats quantity every time as just seven high-class chasers line up for the biggest prize on Friday's card.

15:30 - My Expert Pension Melling Chase (2 miles 4 furlongs)
The three market leaders are expected to dominate, although such is the quality of this field that none of the seven starters should be discounted.

PlanetSportBet ambassador and aspiring champion jockey Harry Cobden has been singing the praises of Pic D’Orhy, whom Paul Nicholls has targeted for a defence of the race he won last year after swerving a tilt at last month’s Cheltenham Festival.

Only Shishkin was too good for the nine-year-old in five outings last season, albeit by 16 lengths in the Ascot Chase, a race Pic D’Orhy won himself this season last time out after suffering his only defeat behind Banbridge at Kempton.

WATCH: Harry Cobden assesses his day two Aintree rides in his PlanetSportBet blog


The in-form Skelton yard’s Protektorat makes up the trio of most likely contenders, and if he is sufficiently recovered from his four-length triumph in the Ryanair Chase at Cheltenham, then he should have every chance of adding another Grade 1 to his impressive CV

Both of those hold serious claims, but they might have to give second (and third) best to early favourite Jonbon, who has won 12 and been runner-up three times in 15 career outings, including the Maghull Chase at the corresponding meeting here a year ago.

Nicky Henderson’s eight-year-old star kicked off the current campaign with a Grade 2 win at Cheltenham before landing the Tingle Creek at Sandown by almost three lengths.

Planet Sport Bet: Bet £20+ cash on any runner in the race and if Jonbon wins by over 3 lengths, get a £5 Free Bet!

An awful blunder four out cost him dear in January’s rearranged Clarence House Chase at Cheltenham, but even then he showed his class to rally strongly to finish within a neck of grateful outsider Elixir De Nutz.

Henderson’s runners appear to be in good shape after the yard’s recent troubles, and if the same applies to Jonbon, then he will be tough to beat here over the longer trip that racing pundits have been clamouring for.

Suggested best bet: Jonbon in the 15:30 at Aintree


With several bookmakers offering three places in this seven-runner race, there could be room in the frame for an outsider, should any of the market principals falter.

It is interesting to see that Gordon Elliott’s Conflated has been pulled out of the Grand National in favour of this, and the accomplished 10-year-old was far from disgraced when finishing third behind Protektorat in the Ryanair.

Even more fascinating is the sight of Willie Mullins-trained Easy Game languishing at the bottom of the betting at a tidy outsider price.

His last 11 runs have produced nine wins interrupted by a couple of uncharacteristic blots on the formbook, and while he is clearly in esteemed company here, it's hard to imagine the Master of Closutton and Paul Townend teaming up if didn’t think his 10-year-old had a realistic chance, making Easy Game worthy of a cautious each-way flutter.


Each-way punt: Easy Game each-way in the 15:30 at Aintree



Melling Chase last 5 winners

  • 2023 Pic D’Orhy 4/1
  • 2022 Fakir D’oudairies 10/11F
  • 2021 Fakir D’oudairies 2/1F
  • 2019 Min 2/1F
  • 2018 Politologue 11/1

READ MORE: Friday ITV racing tips: Best Bets for Aintree on April 12

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