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Grand National Festival Preview - Day 1

Grand National Festival Preview - Day 1

The second of Britain's marquee spring jumps festivals gets underway on Thursday as Aintree begin their three-day Grand National Meeting. The Merseyside venue welcomes back full crowds for this meeting for the first time since 2019 and it's eagerly anticipated. They kick off with four Grade 1 races, including the Betway Bowl and Aintree Hurdle, with racing at Aintree from 1.45pm-5.15pm. The Racing Post previews all the action on day one.


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1.45pm - SSS Super Alloys Manifesto Novices' Chase (Grade 1, 2m4f)

Perhaps not the strongest Grade 1 to kick things off. Paul Nicholls has kept a fresh team for this meeting as he looks to make a key burst in his quest to retain champion trainer status in Britain. It could be a pivotal three days for the Ditcheat supremo.

Pic D'Orhy has won 3-5 over fences this season and it might have been more had he not fallen at Ascot at Newbury in December with a Grade 2 at his mercy.

His Scilly Isles disappointment when distant third to L'homme Presse can be viewed in a different light now, given how well Venetia Williams' charge won at the Cheltenham Festival since, and Harry Cobden's mount is the one to beat here.

Pic D'orhy holds the likes of Millers Bank on Kempton form recently, while Jacamar came up shy at Ayr in a Grade 2 last Saturday and has more on his plate now. War Lord was fourth in the Arkle at Cheltenham and could do better, he looks best-placed of Colin Tizzard's pair ahead of The Widdow Maker.

Erne River is 2-2 over fences and has won his last four starts, but this is a tougher assignment moving in graded company for the first time.

GIN ON LIME has been off since a memorable Cheltenham match with My Drogo in November. She was certainly going to come off second-best there until the Dan Skelton inmate crumpled late on. That would have been no shame against a classy rival and this mare should have more to offer, so she is taken to make the most of her allowance.

Selection: Gin On Lime

Next Best: Pic D'orhy

 

2.20pm - Jewson Anniversary 4-Y-O Juvenile Hurdle (Grade 1, 2m1f)

Pied Piper was third in last month's Triumph Hurdle at Cheltenham, no match for mighty Vauban but edged out for second by stablemate Fil D'or - the Gordon Elliott pair clear of the remainder. That form sets the standard now and Davy Russell's mount deserves to head the betting as such. His claims are obvious.

Brazil won the Fred Winter in game fashion from plot-horse Gaelic Warrior at Cheltenham, despite little going right for him in running. Padraig Roche's charge is highly-respected as such. Too Friendly was fifth behind him in the Cotswolds and may do well to reverse the form for the Skelton team.

The likes of Fautinette and Inca Prince are rising in grade but look talented, while KNIGHT SALUTE is better than he ultimately showed in the Triumph Hurdle and will likely prefer this track to Cheltenham. He's perhaps got an each-way chance in his quest to rebound for in-form trainer Milton Harris.

Petit Tonnerre won with something in hand on British bow at Market Rasen (heavy) in February and Jonjo O'Neill's charge is 3-3 over timber now, though he'll want to hurdle a bit more fluently in this company to stand any chance of remaining unbeaten.

Selection: Knight Salute

Next Best: Petit Tonnerre

Grand National Festival Preview - Day 2

Grand National Festival Preview - Day 2

2.55pm - Betway Bowl Chase (Grade 1, 3m1f)

Kemboy (2019) and Clan Des Obeaux (2021) are the two most recent winners of this race and they return for more now.

Despite winning an Irish Gold Cup last season, Willie Mullins' Kemboy has not quite matched the impressive spring 2019 form of his successes here and at Punchestown, latterly when downing Al Boum Photo in Ruby Walsh's farewell.

He went close behind Galvin and A Plus Tard at Christmas in the Savills Chase but was a well-held fifth in the Irish Gold Cup since. He has been kept fresh for this but perhaps doesn't have the ability to dominate a race like he did earlier his career.

Clan Des Obeaux won this by a wide margin last year, though on reflection that was a well below-par renewal. He's been well held in both runs this season and Nicholls now reaches for a pair of blinkers in attempts to sharpen him up. He's opposable.

Little split Protektorat and Royal Pagaille in the Gold Cup at Cheltenham last month as they finished third and fifth respectively. The latter won the Many Clouds Chase over C&D in December and remains with more to offer in this sphere, though he did have a tough race at Cheltenham three weeks ago.

Royal Pagaille could be suited ideally by this test, though Venetia Williams' inmate could do with more rain, with similar comments attributed to now-veteran Bristol De Mai, who is already 0-3 in this very race and not quite the force of old.

CONFLATED, winner of that Irish Gold Cup in February, might well have finished a good second to Allaho in the Ryanair at Cheltenham had he cleared the second-last fence. Going back up in trip on this flat track should suit him perfectly well and the Gigginstown runner looks a major threat to all for Elliott and Russell, given the way he went about things at the Dublin Racing Festival earlier this spring.

Selection: Conflated

Next Best: Royale Pagaille

 

3.30pm - Betway Aintree Hurdle (Grade 1, 2m4f)

Epatante is the one to beat on her Champion Hurdle second behind the irrepressible Honeysuckle last month. Nicky Henderson's mare will have to prove her stamina at this increased trip, however, and there are reasons to be wary given she's always been speedy and her finishing efforts in the Fighting Fifth and Christmas Hurdles this season didn't scream that she was looking for a longer trip.

Therefore ZANAHIYR might be able to reverse Cheltenham placings. He was very impressive over 2m1f on soft ground at Down Royal earlier in the season and there could be more to come from him tackling this distance. His Cheltenham third in first-time cheekpieces (retained) was a personal-best for him and he is fancied to build on that now.

McFabulous has something to prove after disappointing in this race last season, with cheekpieces also reached for now, while his Paul Nicholls-trained stablemate Monmiral could be one to improve back here, despite a couple of disappointments this season so far.

The likeable Brewin'upastorm should run his race for Olly Murphy and Sean Bowen. He's a C&D winner this season, though is another that was well fended off 12 months ago when Abacadabras won this contest.

Selection: Zanahiyr

Next Best: Epatante

Europa League quarters Preview - Quarterfinals 1st Leg

Europa League quarters Preview - Quarterfinals 1st Leg

4.05pm - Randox Foxhunters' Open Hunters' Chase (2m5f)

A real puzzle here with 24 runners declared for the Foxhunters. There's no real argument that Jett is the standout, quality-wise, in this field for the Waley-Cohen team. An easy winner at Kelso in February, he was second since to Shantou Flyer at Fontwell and comes here with fine claims.

Cat Tiger ran out of puff at Cheltenham last month for owner/rider David Maxwell following a mistake, but his earlier work this season certainly puts him in the picture if recovered three weeks on.

Cousin Pascal won this last year but was pulled up at Cheltenham and must rebound. Porlock Bay, Latenightpass and Drumconnor Lad are worth considering but the booking of Patrick Mullins on MYTH BUSTER stands out for the Bradstock team. He's only nine and was a good winner of a hunter chase in Scotland in early February. On that evidence, he's worth a shot in this competitive contest and an early price of 18/1 look generous for each-way money.

Selection: Myth Buster

Next Best: Jett

 

4.40pm - Close Brothers Red Rum Handicap Chase (Grade 3, 2m)

Dolos got back on track at Sandown in February after some laboured efforts, Paul Nicholls' charge is 5lb higher now in a deeper contest in looking to confirm form with the likes of Gunsight Ridge and Bun Doran from that afternoon.

The latter had King D'argent behind in second at Doncaster last month and Dan Skelton will be hoping his charge can now build on that run.

The ground went against Sky Pirate in last month's defence of the Grand Annual at Cheltenham. Conditions should be fine now, but once more he's got a hefty burden to carry.

Before Midnight flopped in a Kempton Grade 2 at Christmas, won by Shishkin, but has since run a fine second to Funambule Sivola at Doncaster in January, form advertised by the winner bagging a Newbury Grade 2 and then finishing second to Energumene in the Champion Chase since. Sam Thomas's charge remains on a mark of 148 and is a key player.

THYME WHITE skipped Cheltenham and was second at Ascot (when favourite) 11 days ago, unable to concede 11lb to Gary Moore's improving Golden Boy Grey. That was his first start in three months and he should be sharper for it now. If Bryony Frost can get him in a good rhythm, he's an unexposed sort that could have more to come and he should be well-suited on this track.

Selection: Thyme White

Next Best: Before Midnight

Premier League Darts Preview – Night 9

Premier League Darts Preview – Night 9

5.15pm - Goffs UK Nickel Coin Mares' Standard Open NH Flat Race (Grade 2, 2m1f)

Ashroe Diamond represents Willie and Patrick Mullins, a fearsome combination in bumpers, and was beaten less than a length in a quality Grade 2 Mares event at the Dublin Racing Festival in February on her third start. That's probably the best form on offer, though a few of these have scope for improvement.

Leading Theatre lost nothing in defeat in a Listed Cheltenham contest in November for Fergal O'Brien, while ROSY REDRUM was second-best in a Listed event at Newbury in February and swerved Cheltenham last month in favour of this contest. This galloping track ought to favour her in a first-time hood for in-form Milton Harris.

Kateira's debut win at Huntingdon was impressive on soft ground in February and Dan Skelton's inmate can confirm superiority over a few of these rivals, while Naughtinesse won well at Fairyhouse on New Year's Day and is a player for Lorna Fowler.

Selection: Rosy Redrum

Next Best: Ashroe Diamond

 

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