Today is the start of the Aintree Grand National meeting, 3 cracking days of racing at a fantastic venue.
The meeting kicks off with the Manifesto Grade 1 Chase. Despite just the 6 runners taking their chance, it’s a good line up and one that Top Notch can win. Not an original selection but he should go very close. Top Notch was unlucky not to get closer to Yorkhill at the Cheltenham Festival, a mistake at a vital stage did for him but he rallied well and finished strongly.
Cloudy Dream looks the danger after his fine 2nd in the Arkle Chase, It’s Top Notch for me though and the price of 5-4 looks fair.
I can’t wait to see Defi Du Seuil run again in the Doom Bar Juvenile Hurdle. This horse looks a monster and he reminds me of the brilliant Istabraq. If I knew connections would keep him over hurdles and aim for the Champion Hurdle next year, I’ll be all over the 10-1 that’s available. I personally think he’ll go down the Arkle route. Defi Du Seuil can’t be opposed in this race, if he runs to 85% of his Cheltenham form he’ll win pulling double.
The Betway Bowl Chase at 2:50 is a decent renewal. It would be fantastic if Cue Card could win for the 2nd successive year but I think his best days could be behind him.
Empire Of Dirt was a horse I was all over at the Cheltenham Festival. It’s fair to say he was in the wrong race and found the trip of the Ryanair Chase on the sharp side. A step up to three miles is ideal and there isn’t a Un De Sceaux in the race that will set a crazy pace. Empire Of Dirt was only beaten ¾ of a length behind Gold Cup winner Sizing John over three miles, he can make amends and land this.
I snapped up the 7-2 that was on offer earlier in the week, 5-2 is the best price you can get now. I’m surprised Empire Of Dirt isn't the clear the favourite.
The Betway Hurdle is the big race of the day. Buveur D’Air, the Champion Hurdle winner should have no problem with the step up in trip and get the job done. The New One can follow him home.
Foxhunters Chase at 4:05 will take some winning, 29 runners and a competitive line-up. On The Fringe was given a hold up ride at Cheltenham and couldn't win from his position turning in. I’m sure he’ll be ridden differently today and could bounce back.
However, I like Balnaslow EW at 9-1. Balnaslow has plenty of speed and would have gone close at Cheltenham if not for hitting the last and losing a shoe. Jockey Derek O’Connor will likely bid to make all, the partnerhsip could take some pegging back around Aintree.