The Grand National may not be until Saturday, but with the likes of Big Buck’s and Riverside Theatre in action, there is plenty to look forward to on day one at Aintree.
14:00 – Big Buck’s @ 1/5
Big Buck’s is on course to make history with a 17th straight victory and he should have little problem winning the Liverpool Hurdle.
Smad Place finished third behind Big Buck’s at the Cheltenham Festival and is capable of filling the minor places again.
However Paul Nicholls could conceivably fill the first three places as Poungach should appreciate the step up to 3m, while Tidal Bay may rediscover some form back over hurdles.
14:30 – Pearl Swan @ 9/2
Five of the contenders in the Triumph Hurdle at Cheltenham re-oppose.
Countrywide Flame is looking to follow the likes of Katchit and Zarkandar in completing the double, but his undoubted stamina will not be such an asset this time.
Grumeti and Dodging Bullets should gain revenge, but Pearl Swan was arguably finishing best of all at Cheltenham when falling at the last and can make amends.
Sadlers Risk may be the value call each-way if he reproduces his best form from earlier in the season after looking a bit one-paced in the Triumph.
15:05 – Burton Port @ 4/1
Hunt Ball has improved beyond all recognition this season and it would be no surprise if he put up yet another career best effort.
However, he is in with the big boys now, including Ryanair Chase winner Riverside Theatre and Burton Port.
Barry Geraghty may have picked the former, but preference is for the latter who will get a good toe into the race from front-running duo Nacarat and Carruthers.
His big challenge may come from What A Friend, who is one from two at Aintree and may benefit from having Ruby Walsh back on board.