Aintree has now arrived. After all the hullabaloo of Cheltenham the national hunt season moves North to Liverpool.
Of course the pinnacle of this meeting arrives on Saturday in the shape of the Grand National. However before then we have nearly 3 days of top class jumps racing to enjoy betting on horse racing.
Aintree Day 1 kicks off with 4 Grade 1 races in succession.
The 1.45 race sees 6 runners currently going to post. The likely favourite is the Warren Greatrex trained La Bag Au Roi. This horse has the fantastic record of 14 wins from 19 appearances on a racecourse. However 2 of those defeats have come at Aintree.
The mare has won at Aintree back in November 2015 but that was a bumper (National Hunt flat race).
She is currently in red hot form having won her 4 appearances so far this season. She is also undefeated over the larger obstacles. I believe that it take all the beating here.
Add champion jockey Richard Johnson to the mix and you can see why he is likely to go off a warm favourite for the opener at Aintree 2019.
Amy Murphy has Kalashnikov aimed at this race. He has had a mixed bag over fences this season. In his last run he unseated his jockey very early on in the Arkle at Cheltenham in March.
Mick Channon appears to have high hopes for Glen Forsa. He suffered his first defeat over fences when he too unseated his jockey in the Arkle.
Prior to that he comprehensively defeated Kalashnikov (19 lengths) in a Grade 2 at Sandown. He will hope to put the Arkle behind him and get Aintree of to a flier for the much loved ex-footballer turned trainer.
Nicky Henderson has a well fancied horse going in the 2.20 at Aintree.
Pentland Hills won the Triumph Hurdle at Cheltenham last time out. He comes here with 2 wins from 2 appearances. However he is not guaranteed to go off as favourite for this Grade 1 race.
Currently favourite is 1 of 2 Joseph O’Brien runners. That horse is Band of Outlaws. He too won at the Cheltenham Festival last time out (Fred Winter). He has won 3 from 4 over hurdles and whilst this can be considered a step up in class he looks a very good hurdler in the making.
O’Brien also has Fakir D’Oudairies. Another good prospect who lost his 100% record when coming 4th in the Supreme Novices. He did have the Triumph Hurdle as an option but swerved that for the much tougher Supreme Novices. He gives O’Brien a great chance of defeating Henderson here and giving him a much sought after Aintree victory.
Aintree Bowl number 5 for Nicholls?
Paul Nicholls will be looking to win the Bowl at Aintree for the 5th time and has a great chance with Clan Des Obeaux.
He came 5th in the Cheltenham Gold Cup and was noticeably tiring having been at the sharp end for most of the race. This 3m race looks to be more to his liking as well as the easier nature of Aintree over Cheltenham at the finish. He had won his previous 2 races over 3m and 2m 7f respectively this season.
He did come 3rd in this race last year but this does not look as strong a field as last year.
Whilst only 6 runners go to post for this 3rd Grade 1 at Aintree on Day 1, 3 of them appear to have a great chance of lifting this famous prize.
Kemboy arrives here fresh having fallen at the 1st fence in the Cheltenham Gold Cup. Willie Mullins will be looking to add to his sole success in this race with Florida Pearl in 2002. He did comprehensively defeat Road To Respect at Leopardstown over the Christmas period (8 lengths).
When he completes the course he usually wins (5 wins from 9 runs) and of the other 4 runs he has UR and fallen.
The other horse I feel has a great chance is Bristol de Mai. He has finally put to bed I think that he can only run to his full potential at Haydock with a battling 3rd place at Cheltenham in the Gold Cup.
This is his 3rd attempt at the Aintree Bowl and for me this is his best opportunity to claim it.
The final Grade 1 race for day 1 at Aintree is the 3.25 Aintree Hurdle.
The classy Buveur D’Air is likely to go off a short priced favourite here. He won this race in 2017 and Nicky Henderson has claimed 4 of the past 10 renewals.
It could be said that he no longer has an air of invincibility around him having fallen at the 3rd hurdle in the Champion Hurdle and being defeated by stablemate Verdana Blue in the Christmas Hurdle.
However he still looks a cut above the remainder of this field. If Melon can adapt to the trip then he could possibly spring a shock but I cannot foresee anything but a routine Aintree victory for the favourite.
Aintree Tip of the Day
I am going to look for a double to kick Aintree off in style.
KEMBOY can claim success in the Aintree Bowl (generally available at 5/2) and this can be followed up with BUVEUR D’AIR in the Aintree Hurdle (generally available at 5/6).
The double pays out just under 11/2.