It’s the opening day of the Grand National and I’ll be travelling over to Liverpool but sadly with no booked rides for Thursday. The atmosphere at Aintree is phenomenal and everything starts to slowly build up towards the big one on Saturday where I’m looking forward to getting back aboard Tiger Roll.
His prep seems to have all gone to plan so far – touch wood!
Anyway, more about him later on in the week (and in my chat with Alastair Down below). Here are my thoughts on the main races on the opening day…
1.45pm Devenish Manifesto Novices’ Chase
Despite there only being the six runners, this looks a really good renewal. I suppose the mare LA BAGUE AU ROI will be pretty hard to pass. She has won all four over fences this season and I like the fact that she comes here fresh having swerved Cheltenham. Her Kauto Star Novices’ Chase win at Kempton looks pretty smart now when you consider that the two horses she beat went on to fill the first two places in the RSA Chase at Cheltenham. She has such a likeable attitude and will take all the beating here. The step up in trip is likely to help both Kalashnikov and Glen Forsa, while Mengli Khan seemed to enjoy this step up in distance at Cheltenham.
2.20pm Anniversary Juvenile Hurdle
Another terrific contest on paper with the Triumph Hurdle and Boodles Hurdle (Fred Winter) from Cheltenham going head to head. I was hugely impressed with the way Band Of Outlaws won the last day, but just feel that PENTLAND HILLS has the form in the book now. I finished second to him in the Triumph and he was mightily impressive for one so inexperienced. The recent rain will help him too and he could be hard to beat.
2.50pm Betway Bowl
Again, only the six runners, but what it lacks in quantity, it more than makes up for in quality. Any rain that falls will help the chances of Cheltenham Gold Cup third Bristol De Mai who may struggle to finish in front of Clan Des Obeaux this time. The King George winner will enjoy the drop back in trip and can go close. However, both may struggle to beat Willie Mullins’ KEMBOY who comes here fresh having crashed out of the Gold Cup so early.
He had previously looked very good and may just be a staying chaser going places. Road To Respect will need to jump better, but will enjoy stepping back up to three miles.
3.25pm Betway Aintree Hurdle
I suppose on paper Buveur D’Air will be pretty hard to beat if bouncing back from his fall in the Champion Hurdle. That was the first time he has fallen, and he has won twice at this meeting in the past. However, I’m going to stick with old boy FAUGHEEN as I reckon this 2m 4f trip is just spot on for him. He looks the value alternative against such a hot favourite.
4.05pm Randox Health Foxhunters’ Chase
A wide-open race as you might expect with 27 of them over the Grand National fences. Gordon (Elliott) saddles both Ucello Conti and KRUZHLININ with slight preference for the latter. He has plenty of experience around here having run in two Nationals and one Becher Chase. He caught my eye schooling the other day and I reckon he could go well here.
STAR SPORTS EXCLUSIVE: Our brand ambassador DAVY RUSSELL discusses all things TIGER ROLL with ALASTAIR DOWN from the Racing Post. Tiger Roll bids to become the first horse since Red Rum to win back to back Grand Nationals on Saturday and he’s a warm favourite to do so. Davy recalls how his association with the equine legend began – and of course the magical memories from 12 months ago.
If you have a question for Davy drop us a line at email@example.com and we’ll try and include in the next blog…