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Aintree Festival Tips – Day 1

Thursday is the opening day of the Grand National meeting at Aintree racecourse and below you can find all our Aintree Festival tips for ‘Grand Opening Day’.

One Magnificent City Manifesto Novices Chase

It has been a tough season so far for Nicky Henderson, but life looks likely to get a whole lot better for him at Aintree this week where he has a host of top chances on ground that has come right for the majority of his runners.

First up is JOSSES HILL, who looks hard to oppose in the Manifesto Novices Chase. His regular, but currently injured, pilot Barry Geraghty has always had more faith in the horse’s ability over fences than his form has possibly justified, but Geraghty’s view was partly endorsed by a decent effort from the horse in the Arkle Chase at the Festival, where he had today’s main market rival, Vibrato Valtat, 5 lengths behind him when they finished third and fourth.

Both should be suited by the additional half mile here, although Josses Hill may have underfoot conditions more in his favour.

If there is to be a shock, VAL DE LAW could provide it. He ran an absolute blinder on his first start in this country when looking likely to beat Southfield Theatre before tipping up at the last at Exeter. He was then ridden from the front on his next start at Leicester and was a sitting duck for Cash And Go (who renews rivalry today). A more patient approach with him over this longer trip could pay dividends.

Josses Hill (win)1.40 Aintree15/8Sky Bet
Val De Law (ew)1.40 Aintree16/1BetVictorSky Bet

Betfred Anniversary 4-Y-O Juvenile Hurdle

Henderson could make it a quick fire double in the Anniversary Juvenile Hurdle, courtesy of HARGAM. The Triumph Hurdle third will relish the return to better ground and a flat track, and looks banker material here.

Both HOSTILE FIRE and STARS OVER THE SEA are interesting at much bigger prices.

Again, track and going should see them both improve on what they have achieved over hurdles so far. The former was badly hampered in the Fred Winter last time out and so that effort can be ignored. This is the first time he has run on decent ground over hurdles and it looks sure to suit this strong travelling sort.

The rain that came the night before the Triumph certainly won’t have helped Stars Over The Sea and he travelled well for a long way in that race. Both his wins earlier in the season came on flat tracks and so although he has been well behind Hargam on his last two efforts, he should finisher closer to the favourite today.

Hargam (win)2.15 Aintree8/11Generally
Stars Over The Sea (ew)2.15 Aintree25/1Bet365, BetVictor, William Hill
Hostile Fire (ew)2.15 Aintree50/1Bet365

Betfred Bowl Chase

Another Henderson horse is top of our shortlist for the Betfred Bowl.

MA FILLEULE couldn’t quite peg Uxizandre back in the Ryanair last time out, but this mare comes alive in the spring and won the Topham under a big weight last season. The vibes are that she is in peak form ahead of this race and the extra trip shouldn’t prove a problem for her.

Holywell is another horse who shows his best at this time of year and he ran a blinder in the Gold Cup on ground that was probably on the soft side for him. It is hard to know how much of a mark that race may have left, but he has Tony McCoy back in the saddle and he was an impressive winner of the staying novices chase at this meeting last year. He looks sure to make our selection pull out all the stops.

If there is to be a shock (in a race that has thrown them up in the past) then BALLYNAGOUR may provide it. For each way punters, it is a shame there are 7, instead of 8, runners, but Ballynagour is a bit of a dark horse as when he is good he is very good. He wasn’t far behind Boston Bob in a Grade 1 over 2m 4f here last season and can hopefully last out this longer trip now he is a year older.

Ma Filleule (win)2.50 Aintree4/1Bet365
Ballynagour (ew)2.50 Aintree20/1Bet365

Doom Bar Aintree Hurdle

The Doom Bar Hurdle is the fourth Grade 1 in a row on a cracking opening day of this great meeting and the bookmakers see it as a match between two horses who were vanquished by Faugheen in the Champion Hurdle recently, ARCTIC FIRE and Jezki.

Of the two, we prefer the younger, less exposed, Arctic Fire, who looks to have been crying out for this step up in trip. He seems to be improving all the time and is taking his racing well.

Next in the betting is the evergreen performer, Rock On Ruby, who has looked as good as ever now switched back to hurdles and he was unlucky to be pipped by The New One in the dying strides of this contest last season.

However, at the prices, VONAY DE THAIX looks of more interest as he was only beaten just over 2 lengths by Rock On Ruby at Cheltenham in December and has run some crackers under big weights in handicaps this season. Trip and ground should be ideal.

Arctic Fire (win)3.25 Aintree7/4Generally
Volnay De Thaix (ew)3.25 Aintree11/1Bet365

Our tips for the later races are as follows:

Big Fella Thanks (ew)4.05 Aintree8/1Bet365, Titanbet
Shoreacres (ew)4.05 Aintree33/1Bet365, LadbrokesWilliam Hill
Quinz (ew)4.05 Aintree50/1Bet365, Coral
Karinga Dancer (ew)4.40 Aintree14/1Bet365LadbrokesWilliam Hill
Dresden (ew)4.40 Aintree12/1Bet365, Paddy Power
Katgary (ew)5.15 Aintree20/1Ladbrokes
Taglietelie (ew)5.15 Aintree8/1Ladbrokes