The Grand National Festival gets underway with an action-packed seven-race card on Day One, where Buveur D’Air and La Bague Au Roi are among the star names on show.
Can the pair justify favouritism in the Betway Bowl and Manifesto Novices’ Chase respectively?
We’ve had our say on each and every race on Day One in our Grand National Festival Tips.
1:45 Manifesto Novices’ Chase – La Bague Au Roi (NAP)
It’s difficult to knock La Bague Au Roi this season. Warren Greatrex’s star is looking for the five-timer at Aintree after racking up four wins on the bounce, including a pair of Grade 1 successes.
His victory over subsequent RSA Chase winner Topofthegame at Kempton is a cracking bit of form, and after skipping Cheltenham to come here, the seven-year-old will go fresh for another big run.
2:20 Doom Bar Juvenile Hurdle – Fakir D’oudairies
Fakir D’oudairies ran well to finish fourth in the Supreme at Cheltenham. He’s our tip to upset Band Of Outlaws and Pentland Hills, the latter of whom won a below-par Triumph Hurdle.
The foremost of the pair provides the main danger. But we think Joseph O’Brien’s charge still has plenty of scope for improvement and can outrun his more than enticing odds under Mark Walsh.
2:50 Betway Bowl – Kemboy (NB)
Six will line up for the Betway Bowl, and it’s possible to put a line through five of them. Balko Des Flos and Elegant Escape simply lack the class to be able to get on terms with the frontunners.
Road To Respect had a tough race in the Ryanair, while Bristol De Mai does his best work after a break and heads into this less than two weeks after his Cheltenham Gold Cup heroics.
That leaves Clan Des Obeaux and Kemboy. We’re still not sure over the form of Clan’s King George win, which points us towards with Kemboy, who impressed to win the Grade 1 Savills Chase.
On top of that he’ll go relatively fresh after unseating in the Gold Cup, which makes him a nice play at the prices for Willie Mullins and Ruby Walsh.
3:25 Aintree Hurdle – Buveur D’Air
Buveur D’Air probably would’ve wrapped up a hat-trick of Champion Hurdle victories had he not fallen at the third fence at Cheltenham last month.
He arrives here pretty fresh after that mishap and can reclaim the crown he last won in 2017 against a field which lacks the eight-year-old’s class and ability to jump cleanly.
4:05 Foxhunters Chase – Mr Mix (Lively Longshot)
A chance is taken on Mr Mix for Stuart Robinson, who finished runner-up behind subsequent Cheltenham winner Hazel Hill in his only hunter chase start this year.
Improvement is required from the Al Namix gelding to get in the mix here, but after winning a point-to-point since, we reckon our tip has decent each-way claims over the 2m 5f distance.
4:40 Red Rum Handicap Chase – Lady Buttons
The likeable Lady Buttons is taken to return to winning ways over fences after posting an impressive fourth in the Mares’ Hurdle at Cheltenham.
Phillip Kirby’s charge has already won four times this season, including in Listed company over larger obstacles and in a Grade 2 contest over hurdles.
The nine-year-old should enjoy the stiffer test over a shorter distance and will benefit from jockey Thomas Dowson, who takes 3lb off her handicap mark of 149.
5:15 Mares’ National Hunt Flat Race – Misty Whisky
A wide-open renewal could go to any number of the market principals, although it’s hat-trick seeking Misty Whisky for Harry Fry who gets our vote.
The Stowaway mare won well under Sean Bowen in a Listed contest at Sandown last time out and can go one better than when runner-up on debut over course and distance in November.
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All Odds and Markets correct as of date of publication