Grand National Festival: The favourites for the Marsh Chase

While most of the attention at Aintree’s Grand National Festival later this month is on the showpiece race itself, there is plenty more to look forward to over the course of the top-class meeting. In total, there will 11 Grade 1s across the course of the three-day meeting (13-15 April) and there will be some big names in attendance — including Constitution Hill, Shishkin and Jonbon. 

The feature race on day two, also known as Ladies’ Day at Aintree, is the Marsh Chase. Still a relatively new race having been only been formed in 1991, the Marsh Chase is open to horses five years or older and is contested over two miles and four furlongs with a winning prize purse of £250,000. 

There are some big names on the roll of honour, including dual Champion Chase winners Moscow Flyer and Sprinter Sacre as well as 2016 Gold Cup champion Don Cossack. The 2023 renewal looks like it’s between two horses, with very little to separate them in the Marsh Chase betting odds. So, read on as we take a look at the favourites. 

Pic D’Orhy – 13/8

As is the case with most British National Hunt races, Paul Nicholls and Nicky Henderson have their fair share of winners in the Marsh Chase with three apiece. However, the Ditcheat trainer will be hoping to get one over on his old rival Henderson and pull clear of the Seven Barrows handler with a fourth win as Pic D’Orhy is this year’s favourite. 

The eight-year-old has had a fantastic season for Nicholls and jockey Harry Cobden, winning on reappearance at Newton Abbot in October before following that up with two Grade 2 wins in the Peterborough Chase at Huntingdon and the Silviniaco Conti Chase at Kempton.

Shishkin proved far too strong an opponent in the Ascot Chase last time out, as Pic D’Orhy was merely the best of the rest when home 16 lengths behind the Henderson-trained horse. But he has every chance of bouncing back here. 

Fakir D’oudairies – 5/2

Not many trainers try their hand at both jumps and flat racing in the United Kingdom and Ireland, and while he might have more success in the latter, Irish handler Joseph O’Brien is giving it a good go and is starting to really make a good impression in both spheres.

The son of the legendary trainer Aidan O’Brien, Fakir D’oudairies is arguably the 29-year-old’s most successful runner over obstacles to this point. The JP McManus-owned horse has won O’Brien numerousGrade 1 titles — two of which have come in this very race. 

The eight-year-old’s first win came at the behind-closed-doors meeting in 2021 when he set off as the 2/1 favourite and romped home by a comfortable 11 lengths from Nuts Well. Fakir D’ourdairies was odds-on for his defence last year and beat Hitman by over five lengths. 

He’s won just once in three attempts this year, which came in a Grade 2 at Thurles. But second behind Gold Cup winner Galopin Des Champs on reappearance is still respectable. What could give Pic D’Orhy the edge however, is the fact seven lengths separated them at Ascot.

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