Buveur D’Air, Cue Card and the other headline horses at Aintree

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The Grand National will undoubtedly take centre stage this week at Aintree. But away from the big one there are plenty of other intriguing contests and runners.

It all begins on Thursday 6 April with the Grand Opening Day featuring another cracking Aintree Bowl renewal and an Aintree Hurdle field packed full of quality.

Then the traditional Ladies Day Friday will be followed by Grand National Day itself as the Festival reaches an epic finale.

But who should you have your eyes on?

Thursday

There’s certainly no light introduction to proceedings with the Grade 1 Manifesto Novices’ Chase set to feature a number of high-class entrants.

JLT Novices’ Chase runner-up Top Notch heads the market although he won’t have it easy against the likes of Arkle Chase second Cloudy Dream and the well-rested Pendil Novices’ Chase winner, Frodon.

Unbeaten hurdler and Cheltenham Festival hero Defi Du Seuil is odds-on to take the Four-Year-Old Juvenile Hurdle at 14:20 with Fred Winter first and second

Flying Tiger and Divin Bere likely to provide the main opposition.

Then at 14:50, Colin Tizzard’s Cue Card will aim to defend his Bowl crown. Empire of Dirt, Bristol De Mai and Aintree favourite Silviniaco Conti are also entered although it’ll be interesting to see whether Ryanair Chase third Aso can once again outrun long odds to hit the frame.

Champion Hurdle winner Buveur D’Air is another big name to watch out for. Nicky Henderson’s charge is entered in the Aintree Hurdle at 15:25 and could face a number of re-opposing rivals.

In the 16:05, Pacha Du Polder and On the Fringe are set for a fascinating battle over the National fences.

Friday

Trainer David Pipe will be hoping that his talented but fragile Moon Racer can bounce back into form in the Top Novices’ Hurdle at 14:05.

That contest should serve as an appetising hors d’ouevre to what looks a tasty Mildmay Novices’ Chase renewal.

Re-opposing rivals Might Bite and Whisper are due to go head-to-head again following their incredible duel towards the conclusion of this year’s RSA Chase.

Fox Norton was closest to Special Tiara in the Champion Chase at Prestbury Park and he’s got a great chance of landing a valuable prize in the Melling Chase while Go Conquer and Seefood are fighting it out for favouritism in this year’s Topham Chase.

Saturday

Another five graded contests feature on Grand National Day with Pertemps Network Final runner-up Barney Dwan one of the big names in the opening contest.

Talented youngsters Brio Conti and Finians Oscar will then meet in the top level Mersey Novices’ Hurdle, before what looks a Liverpool Hurdle to savour.

Unowhatimeanharry suffered a shock defeat in the Stayers’ Hurdle at Cheltenham but he’s got a great chance of putting that right on Merseyside.

The green and gold silks of JP McManus will be also be sported onboard Yanworth, who’ll be stepping up to 3m for the first time.

2014 Champion Hurdle winner Jezki is another McManus entrant with Mares’ Hurdle heroine Apple’s Jade also on the list.

And then we come to the feature race of the entire meeting. You can read plenty more about that here (link).

Once again the Grand National will go off at the later time of 17:15 although it won’t be the final race on the Aintree card.

That honour goes to a hugely competitive conditional and amateurs race an hour later where Ian Williams’ London Prize is one of the leading fancies.

Click here for the latest Grand National Festival odds.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing

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William Geldart

William contributed to a number of online football blogs before finally finding his pot of gold at the end of the rainbow alongside the rest of the Ladbrokes News team. Now indulging passions for football, horse racing, greyhounds, boxing and political betting. Supports Wycombe Wanderers and can be spotted at various lower league and non-league grounds across the country.