What's Up Boys is up for double.
No horse in history has landed the "brandy" double but Philip Hobbs' charge looks to have a real chance judging by his performance as a fastfinishing fifth in the Tote Cheltenham Gold Cup.
The grey - who is bidding to be the first of his hue since Nicholas Silver in 1961 to land the marathon event - is a bit of a quirky character but showed his positive side when landing the Hennessy in November.
Looking fully fit for his seasonal bow the Supreme Leader gelding was always handy in the extended threeand-a-quarter miles event and although headed for the lead, rallied in style on the run-in to deny Behrajan by a neck.
Since then he ran below that form when contesting the Coral Welsh National, lost his action in Newbury's Aon Chase, but showed improved form at Cheltenham and suggested he may well be coming back to his best.
He will have to be given the opposition on Saturday.
Nigel Twiston-Davies' Naunton yard has struggled to get into form since the start of the year, but the signs over Easter were that the gremlins were beginning to disappear and his representatives Beau, Bindaree and Frantic Tan - now the mount of Gold Cup winning jockey Jim Culloty - hold live chances.
Coral Welsh National third Bindaree is the pick of the trio.
Meanwhile, the best of the Ferdy Murphy quartet could prove to be Ackzo who will relish the drying conditions.
His third behind This Is Serious in the Newcastle's four miles, one furlong Eider Chase, was an excellent effort given that he was seriously hampered during the race.
Kingsmark is another high class chaser who has the ability to run into a minor place.
Martin Todhunter's charge produced a career-best effort when winning the Edward Hanmer Memorial Chase at Haydock and will want for nothing from the saddle with 2000 Grand National winning jockey Ruby Walsh in the plate.
Rooster Booster can make it a double day for Hobbs by landing the opening Cordon Bleu Handicap Hurdle. The eight-year-old produced a scintillating performance to land Cheltenham's County Hurdle and can defy a seven pounds penalty in the extended two miles event.
With Champion Hurdler Hors La Loi now an absentee, the Grade One Martell Aintree Hurdle could fall to Copeland.
Martin Pipe's charge finished a good second to Hors La Loi at Wincanton in February and a good case can be made out for this top handicapper.
Aidan O'Brien may not be sending Johannesburg over to contest Lingfield's Fosters-International Trial Stakes but the valuable prize should still be crossing the Irish Sea to Ballydoyle as Castle Gandolfo should be a cut above his rivals.
CHARGING HOME Polly Gundry on board Torduff Express jumps the last of Aintree's mighty fences to win the Martell Foxhunters Chase yesterday, only the second woman to win a race over the Grand National course. PICTURE: PA
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|Publication:||South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)|
|Date:||Apr 5, 2002|
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