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2019 Grand National Festival tips - Race-by-race selections for day one of the Aintree Grand National meeting

Aintree hosts day one of the 2019 Grand National Festival on Thursday.

Brian Healy gives his race-by-race selections and best bets on the opening day of the 2019 Aintree Grand National meeting.

Following hard on the heels of the Cheltenham Festiva, the latest of the big spring meetings comes into view and the first of three days’ top-class horse racing for the 2019 Grand National Meeting goes to post on Thursday.

Four Grade One contests dominate a seven-race card which also includes the Foxhunters’ Chase over the Grand National fences on a fantastic opening day meeting, where the Betway Bowl Chase is the day’s feature contest.

1:45- Devenish Manifesto Novices' Chase (Grade 1) Cl1 (5yo+) 2m4f
2:20 - Doom Bar Anniversary 4-Y-O Juvenile Hurdle (Grade 1) Cl1 (4yo) 2m1f
2:50 - Betway Bowl Chase (Grade 1) Cl1 (5yo+) 3m1f
3:25 - Betway Aintree Hurdle (Grade 1) Cl1 (4yo+) 2m4f
4:05 - Randox Health Foxhunters' Open Hunters' Chase Cl2 (6yo+) 2m5f
4:40 - Close Brothers Red Rum Handicap Chase (Grade 3) Cl1 (5yo+) 2m 
5:15 - Goffs UK Nickel Coin Mares' Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race (Grade 2) Cl1 (4-6yo) 2m1f

Ed Chamberlain and the team will be on hand to cover the pick of Thursday’s racecard, and there will be five races shown live on ITV Racing where the team will have all their usual expert tips, insights and post-race analysis; and Brian Healy gives his race-by-race selections for all seven of the day’s classy contests on day one.

1:45- Devenish Manifesto Novices' Chase (Grade 1) Cl1 (5yo+) 2m4f


Defi Du Seuil impressively won the JLT Novices’ Chase during the Cheltenham Festival, and Philip Hobbs’ charge would have been sure to offer up some stiff resistance had he not suffered an injury and subsequently scratched from the race. 

With the Grade One winner now out of the picture, it could be worth chancing on one of the unlucky Arkle pair of Kalashnikov and GLEN FORSA (3/1, William Hill) with narrow preference for the former having galloped and jumped Amy Murphy’s reopposing rival ragged at Sandown in the rearranged Kingmaker Chase.

Mick Channon’s charge was racking up a hat-trick of wins with that demolition job, having previously struck over three miles at Chepstow and also Kempton over this trip on Boxing Day; but he was an early casualty in the Arkle Chase, making a bad mistake and unseating his rider at the fourth fence.

Earlier jumping for his three wins was exemplary, and so his Arkle run is treated as a blip assuming he is none the worse for the mishap; he looks capable of bouncing back with a clear run, and while Philip Hobbs’ Grade One winner would have likely proven a tough nut to crack, he can post a big run with the return to this longer trip no problem.



2:20 - Doom Bar Anniversary 4-Y-O Juvenile Hurdle (Grade 1) Cl1 (4yo) 2m1f


Triumph Hurdle winner Pentland Hills and fourth-placed Fakir D’oudairies renew Festival rivalry, but BAND OF OUTLAWS (6/4, William Hill) looked potentially top-class with the impression he left following his win in the lesser Fred Winter Hurdle, and Joseph O’Brien’s charge is taken to strike again.

The Fast Company gelding is 3-4 since switching to hurdles from the flat, routing some smart individuals at Navan in February having also struck at Limerick on Boxing Day; but he overcame all sorts of scrimmaging and trouble in running turning in at Cheltenham to readily land the spoils nonetheless with an easy defeat of Coko Beach.

It was a classy effort, and it isn’t all hard to imagine that he might have been a force in the Triumph Hurdle had connections elected to target that contest over the Fred Winter where he won by an easy two lengths.

This is obviously tougher as it represents a step up in class against the Triumph Hurdle winner who won well in his own right; but open to further improvement and unlikely to be inconvenienced by a much sharper track, he can find another jolt of improvement to further enhance his winning record here.

2:50 - Betway Bowl Chase (Grade 1) Cl1 (5yo+) 3m1f


Bristol De Mai finished runner-up in this race twelve months ago, and Nigel Twiston-Davies’ charge ran a blinder in the Gold Cup recently; Clan Des Obeaux also ran well in fifth but looked a non-stayer and will appreciate this trip on a flatter track.

However, KEMBOY (5/2, William Hill) got no further than the first fence in the Gold Cup, and Willie Mullins’ charge is chanced to quickly bounce back having racked up a four-timer prior to crashing out at Cheltenham which included in the Savills Chase at Leopardstown over Christmas.

His Cheltenham fall came as a result of being tightly squeezed up and being short of room, and he was unable to jump cleanly; he landed steep and awkwardly, leaving his rider little chance to stay in the saddle. But he had jumped soundly previously when posting his wins, and it wouldn’t be a huge surprise to see him quickly bouncing back from that Festival mishap here.

He arrives fresher than either of his two main rivals, who both had hard races in the Gold Cup, and he could take advantage of any fatigue felt by either Clan Des Obeaux or Bristol De Mai to get back on the winning trail.


3:25 - Betway Aintree Hurdle (Grade 1) Cl1 (4yo+) 2m4f


Several interesting runners in this race, including Ch’tibello who makes his second start following wind surgery and an impressive win in the County Hurdle; while Stayers’ Hurdle third Faugheen also lines up alongside Supasundae who finished seventh in the same race.

Champion Hurdle runner-up Melon also pitches his hat into the ring, but BUVEUR D’AIR (10/11, William Hill) can quickly get back on track following his early fall in the Champion Hurdle. 

Nicky Henderson’s dual-Champion Hurdle winner hasn’t looked at his imperious best this term, suffering defeat at Kempton prior to getting back on track at Sandown in the Contender’s Hurdle. His best effort of the campaign came when trouncing Samcro in the Fighting Fifth Hurdle on his return, and although he came a cropper latest he could prove too good for this field if showing his best following that tumble.

The Crillon gelding departed the race at the third hurdle, clipping the top of the obstacle and crashing out; but he is far too good an animal to be kept down for long, and assuming he hasn’t suffered any ill effects from his fall then he should prove a tough nut to crack.

4:05 - Randox Health Foxhunters' Open Hunters' Chase Cl2 (6yo+) 2m5f


Course-form and prior experience of these fences can often prove to be a big advantage, and while his profile in recent seasons has become increasingly patchy, BALNASLOW (20/1, William Hill) could be worth keeping onside to successfully defend the crown he won twelve months ago.

Graham McKeever’s charge boasts plenty of useful form down through the years when trained in Ireland by both Willie Mullins and Gordon Elliott, and he finished fifth in the 2017 Cheltenham Foxhunters behind Pacha Du Polder prior to finding only one too good in this race, and he got back on the winning trail at Punchestown.

The veteran Presenting gelding struggled for form early last term, finishing seventh in last season’s Foxhunters’ Chase prior to winning this race with a defeat of Bear’s Affair; but he hasn’t replicated that form in any of his four subsequent runs, and he was pulled up when last sighted in this season’s Foxhunters’ Chase having never been a factor in the race.

But, a return to this venue and these fences could spark a revival, and he has won off the back of a poor previous run; he can post a big effort here under a top amateur rider, and no surprise if he were to return to form.

4:40 - Close Brothers Red Rum Handicap Chase (Grade 3) Cl1 (5yo+) 2m 


DIEGO DU CHARMIL (12/1, William Hill) won the Maghull Novices’ Chase at this meeting twelve months ago, and Paul Nicholls’ charge could be worth chancing to get back on the mark having faced very stiff tasks in each of his four runs since.

The Ballingarry gelding saw off Petit Mouchoir in that contest twelve months ago to land a Grade One prize, after which he has locked horns three times with Altior in starts at Sandown, Kempton and latterly Ascot when finishing last of three runners in the Clarence House Chase.

He probably needed the run on his reappearance in the Haldon Gold Cup when finishing last of five runners behind God’s Own, and that run is overlooked. But he held little real hope of toppling Altior in any of his other three outings, having to compete from level weights last time despite being rated 19lbs inferior.

This is an easier assignment dropping back into handicap company, and while he has plenty of weight to carry in this contest he could capitalise with no Altior in opposition now. He is also the choice of Harry Cobden from the Ditcheat handler’s intended runners in the race, and a return to this venue where he registered his last success could see him post a big effort.


5:15 - Goffs UK Nickel Coin Mares' Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race (Grade 2) Cl1 (4-6yo) 2m1f


The Glancing Queen finished fifth in the Champion Bumper at Cheltenham, but Alan King’s charge may not be suited by this sharper test; MISTY WHISKY () gets a tentative vote to continue her progression and land a hat-trick of wins having posted successes at Ludlow and Sandown either side of a three months’ break.

The Stowaway mare found only one too good here on her debut back in November, after which she beat List One by three lengths readily at Ludlow. Her subsequent defeat of Silver Forever came in Listed company where she got up in the dying strides to score over a field which included a few of her intended rivals in this contest.

Harry Fry’s charge might have won a shade easier had she not been trapped behind a wall of horses for more than one furlong; but once the gap opened she ran on well and may have won easier than the one length winning margin suggests. 

Open to further improvement, she can post a big run in pursuit of her hat-trick.

2019 AINTREE GRAND NATIONAL FESTIVAL TIPS - DAY ONE SELECTIONS


1:45 - GLEN FORSA (3/1, William Hill)

2:20 - BAND OF OUTLAWS (6/4, William Hill)

2:50 - KEMBOY (5/2, William Hill)

3:25 - BUVEUR D’AIR (10/11, William Hill

4:05 - BALNASLOW (20/1, William Hill)

4:40 - DIEGO DU CHARMIL (12/1, William Hill)

5:15 - MISTY WHISKY ()


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2019 Grand National Festival tips - Race-by-race selections for day one of the Aintree Grand National meeting

Brian Healy gives his race-by-race selections and best bets on the opening day of the 2019 Aintree Grand National meeting.

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