There’s certainly no gentle introduction to the Grand National Festival at Aintree with four Grade 1 contests set to get us underway.
Naturally, we’re all excited about seeing a number of our Cheltenham heroes make a quick reappearance and that’s a theme that dominates throughout the three-day meeting on Merseyside.
In that vein, two high-profile Festival seconds dominate the first race on the card at 13:45.
JLT Novices’ Chase second Top Notch will come up against Arkle Chase runner-up Cloudy Dream in the Manifesto Novices’ Chase and the former wins a narrow vote from us.
The Malcolm Jefferson-trained latter has undoubtedly come up against some top class animals this season but his propensity to hit the woodwork is enough to put us off.
Triumph Hurdle hero Defi Du Seuil is a big favourite on our desk (we all can’t get enough of him ;)), and no doubt further afield too, and he’s the standout pick in the 14:20.
Fred Winter winner Flying Tiger and the beaten favourite of that contest, Divin Bere, are deemed the main opposition
But in reality we can’t see past Philip Hobb’s superstar extending his winning record to seven from seven over hurdles.
It’s potentially a different story in the Aintree Bowl though.
Colin Tizzard’s Cue Card recovered from his Gold Cup fall to take the honours last year. But having suffered the same fate at Prestbury Park last month, and now another year older, we reckon he’s worth taking on.
Empire of Dirt flattered to deceive in the Ryanair Chase but his second to subsequent Cheltenham winner Sizing John in the Irish Gold Cup now looks a very decent piece of form.
However, we’re going to give a speculative nod to Ryanair third, Aso.
He ran a blinder at Cheltenham and the step up in trip, rather than a gulf in class, is our only concern.
On to the feature race of the day, the Aintree Hurdle, and it’s another shortie that sticks out like a sore thumb.
Hindsight is a wonderful thing but why we ditched Buveur d’Air for Brain Power in the Champion Hurdle remains a mystery.
Still, we move on and we’re more than happy to back Nicky Henderson’s charge on this occasion.
The same trainer’s My Tent or Yours chased him down at Cheltenham but we can’t see the result being any different this Thursday.
In the 16:05 we’ll get our first sight of the iconic Grand National fences when a tasty clash between On The Fringe and Pacha Du Polder unfolds.
The former has taken this contest in each of the last two years but Paul Nicholls’ charge turned the tables at this year’s Festival.
It’s a tough one to call and instead we’re going to stick our necks out and back course and distance Poole Master each-way.
And finally, Kerry Lee’s Gino Trail makes place appeal in the 16:40 while it’s hard to oppose Petticoat Tails in the closer following her narrow defeat to the extremely smart Cap Soleil last time out.
Here’s our full list of tips for day one of the 2017 Grand National Festival.
13:45 – Top Notch
14:20 – Defi Du Seuil
14:50 – Aso EW
15:25 – Buveur D’Air
16:05 – Poole Master EW
16:40 – Gino Trail EW
17:15 – Petticoat Tails
Check out today’s NAP, Lucky 15 and get the lowdown from our mystery tipster, Barry The Scoop by visiting our main Horse Racing page.
And click here for the latest Aintree odds.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing