New Sefton Favourite After Minella Rocco Withdrawal

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Published: 10/04/2015
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The late withdrawal of long time favourite Minella Rocco means that Vyta Du Roc heads the market in the Grade One Sefton Novices` Hurdle this afternoon. A victory for the six-year-old would be Lambourn handler Nicky Henderson`s second straight win in the race after Beat That triumphed by four lengths to this season`s World Hurdle winner Cole Harden in the 2014 renewal. bet365 have 10/3 on the Simon Munir-owned charge taking home the 3m event.

Whilst this will be the horse`s first run at such a distance, the outstanding class of his previous races means that he should not find it too difficult to compete here. Vyta Du Roc is a two-time Grade Two winner, once over 16f and once over 20f, and was just a neck away from claiming a Grade One 21f novices hurdle title at Newbury in December. Last time out the son of Lion Noir put in a good enough performance to secure a close fourth place in the Cheltenham Festival`s Grade One Neptune Investment Management Novices` Hurdle and connections will be hoping that the young novice will have soaked up this experience and be ready to go again just a month later.

One major setback is that the horse`s regular rider, Barry Geraghty, is absent through injury and so he will be in the hands of Daryl Jacob. Whilst Jacob is obviously a prolific and talent rider himself, it will be the first time he will have handled Vyta Du Roc in a race.

Despite this, the Aintree conditions should be perfect for this horse and will be ready to give sealing his first ever Grade One victory his best shot.

Both bet365 and boylesports have the best price on new second-favourite Roi Des Francs, this price being 9/2. Mullins is another who is coming into this race off the back of a Cheltenham Festival appearance, he was placed in the Martin Pipe Conditional Hurdle and should be well placed to take on Vyta Du Roc in conditions that should suit.

Like the Henderson horse, this is also Roi Des Francs first attempt at a 24f distance. This horse will, however, be attempting a Grade One event for the first time, his classiest ever finish being when first in a Grade Three at 22f at Clonmel. Whether or not he can win at his first Grade One attempt is up for debate though owners Gigginstown are in good form at the minute and if there`s any group of owners to get behind, it`s them!

Ordo Ab Chao, a 10/1 shout with bet365 and a number of other bookmakers, has Aintree experience over all of his key rivals after finishing fourth in last season`s flat race. This season he has already picked up a Grade Two in the shape of a Cheltenham trial for the Neptune Investment Management Novices Hurdle but could only manage to finish outside the places in that event.

That almost three length completion behind Vyta Du Roc franked the form of a previous December race at Sandown though this Alan King charge was a full 18 lengths shy of the Henderson raider. Whilst this is a demonstration of how much this horse has already improved, another step up to reverse the Festival form seems unlikely.

Despite this Aintree looks to be a preferable course to Cheltenham and Heron Island sired mount should be looking to get on the premises in the closing stages.

Of the remainder, there could be value in Mouse Morris` Alpha Des Obeaux at 11/1 (Skybet) whilst bet365 have the best price of 16/1 on Nigel Twiston-Davies` Blaklion.

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