Aintree equips for Gold Cup repeat as Nicholls prepares Denman

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The Grand National may attract all of the media coverage over the next 12 days, but the opening day of the Grand National meeting at Aintree will take all of the beating.

The Liverpool Hurdle will open the meeting and punters will see Big Buck’s and Grands Crus renew their rivalry after a compelling World Hurdle.

But the race of the day sees Denman out for revenge on the new star of chasing and Gold Cup winner Long Run in the Totesport Bowl.

It’s a cracking line-up to open Britain’s last major National Hunt meeting of the season – the Punchestown Festival will see many of the Cheltenham Festival winners run for the final time this season – and punters looking for a Grand National bet should look forward to the other two days racing.

According to trainer Paul Nicholls, Denman has come out of his Gold Cup run in great condition and a little rain would suit the horse on only his third start of the season.

The bad news for Denman punters is that his only run at Aintree was the scene of his only fall.

Denman has seven lengths to make up on Long Run according to Gold Cup form and Long Run is sure to be a short favourite in the Totesport Bowl betting.

Long Run has already been installed as the 5/2 favourite to win the 2012 Cheltenham Gold Cup with Denman available at a distant 16/1.

The Totesport Bowl will be an intriguing race should Denman manage the ground and while Long Run never jumped fluently around Cheltenham, the way he took the final fence has to be respected and it’s hard to oppose the six-year-old at Aintree.

Long Run is yet to be tested at Aintree but he has always coped well over the flatter courses and with the racecourse more suited to his style, Long Run is a frightening prospect.

A £20 stake on Long Run winning the 2012 Gold Cup would return £70. New customers can sign up here to get £60 in free bets.

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Robbie Morris

Robbie studied sports journalism at the University of Gloucestershire, an establishment chosen for its proximity to Cheltenham racecourse, where he was a season ticket holder. Upon graduation, Robbie was a contributor to GolfPunk, a national magazine aimed at ridding golf of its traditionalist image, before joining the news.ladbrokes team.