Grand National Festival day one – Aintree tips for Thursday’s top-class racecard

Grand National Festival day one. Aintree tips for Thursday 8 April.Grand National Festival day one. Aintree tips for Thursday 8 April.

Aintree tips for Thursday 8 April

The Aintree Grand National Festival kicks off on Thursday with a seven-race card which features four Grade One contests including the feature Betway Bowl Chase. We’ve looked through the racecard to pick out our Aintree tips for Thursday on day one of the Festival.

With the Cheltenham Festival still fresh in the memory we look forward to another top-class fixture over three days at Aintree for the Grand National Festival which gets underway on Thursday with a seven-race card featuring a quartet of Grade One contests spearheaded by the Betway Bowl Chase at 2.50pm.

The ITV Racing cameras will have the best of the action from Merseyside with five live TV races on day one of the Festival and Ed Chamberlain and the team will have their usual expert racing tips, insights and post-race analysis on the day’s TV racing. Meanwhile we’ve looked through the day’s seven races and picked out our Aintree tips for Thursday through the card on day one of the Festival.


1:45 Aintree – SSS Super Alloys Manifesto Novices’ Chase (Grade 1) (GBB Race) Cl1 (5yo+) 2m4f

The ever-improving Irish raider The Shunter is dangerous to overlook despite taking a hefty rise in class, while Hitman bounced back from a fall to strike at Newbury recently and has been kept for this having avoided Cheltenham.

However the vote goes to FUSIL RAFFLES who is 3-5 over fences and ran a blinder at the Cheltenham Festival to finish runner-up behind stablemate Chantry House, not helped by a mistake and pecking on landing over the last fence.

Nicky Henderson hasn’t had the best of seasons but the yard has had a few winners over the past couple of weeks and the form of that Cheltenham run has a strong look to it with the third running well since while the fourth won his next start.

His chase wins have come at Uttoxeter and Cheltenham twice but he ought to handle this sharper venue having won around sharp tracks over hurdles and if his Cheltenham Festival exertions haven’t left a mark then he could go close to a return to winning ways.

Aintree tips for Thursday 8 April. Fusil Raffles can land Grade One glory in the Manifesto Novices' Chase.

Aintree tips for Thursday 8 April. Fusil Raffles can land Grade One glory in the Manifesto Novices’ Chase.

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

Monmiral has been kept fresh for this and Paul Nicholls’ unbeaten sort could prove tough to conquer as he bids to maintain his unbeaten record; while Fiveandtwenty is also unbeaten and comes into the reckoning despite needing some significant improvement.

ADAGIO though takes the verdict having found only a top-class prospect too strong in the recent Triumph Hurdle and a repeat of that will put him firmly in the mix here.

David Pipe’s charge had won three of his previous four starts, impressively beating Nassalam at Chepstow and a line through that rival matches him closely with Paul Nicholls’ star who beat the same horse when last seen scoring at Haydock.

The Wiener Waltzer gelding showed a good attitude at Cheltenham despite failing to match Quilixios’ speed late on, battling on well for second and he should give another good account if this doesn’t come too soon with drying conditions no problem.

2:50 Aintree – Betway Bowl Chase (Grade 1) (GBB Race) Cl1 (5yo+) 3m1f

This looks very open and it is hard to overlook Tiger Roll who bounced back to form in no uncertain fashion when demolishing rivals in the Glenfarclas Cross Country at the Cheltenham Festival.

Another chance though is given to WAITING PATIENTLY who has made the frame in all completed starts over fences although he’s been proving frustrating and expensive to follow.

A Grade One winner when taking the 2018 Ascot Chase for a sixth successive win, he remains very low mileage for a ten-year old and he’s been running well in defeat since unseating his rider early in the 2018 King George VI Chase.

Runner-up to Frodon in the 2020 renewal of that race he found two miles too sharp last time out in the Clarence House Chase and back at three miles over this sharp, flat track could prove ideal for Ruth Jefferson’s charge who is yet to fully fulfil the potential he had shown earlier in his career.

He should get a decent pace to aim at with both Native River and Mister Fisher likely to go forward early and he’s arguably not as ground dependant now as he once was; he can give a good account with plenty in his favour here and this could be his day to return to the winners’ enclosure.

Aintree tips for Thursday 8 April. Ruth Jefferson's Waiting Patiently can win the Betway Bowl.

Aintree tips for Thursday 8 April. Ruth Jefferson’s Waiting Patiently can win the Betway Bowl.

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

It could be worth chancing on a return to winning form from former dual-Champion Hurdle winner BUVEUR D’AIR who looked in need of his reappearance at Haydock following a lengthy layoff through injury.

Nicky Henderson’s top-class Crillon Gelding took this prize in 2017 as part of an eleven-race winning streak before being beaten by Verdana Blue at Kempton in the 2018 Christmas Hurdle in a relatively disappointing 2018/19 campaign although he did sound off with a win at Punchestown in May.

Injured when narrowly beaten in the 2019 Fighting Fifth Hurdle he was absent for more than a year until that Haydock return where he was beaten four lengths by Navajo Pass although he’s entitled to have needed the run and he should be spot on now having been given plenty of time to recover and he’s been kept fresh having missed Cheltenham.

A return to this longer trip and drying ground are of no concern for the ten-year old who can give a good account despite potentially proving vulnerable to younger improving sorts.

4:05 Aintree – Rose Paterson Randox Foxhunters’ Open Hunters’ Chase Cl2 (6yo+) 2m5f

The first visit of the week to the Grand National fences and with proven form over the obstacles SAMETEGAL can get back to winning ways despite disappointing when last seen at Fontwell when beaten by The Galloping Bear.

Paul Nicholls’ veteran is a generally consistent sort however and he got back on the winning trail at Wincanton the time before when beating Porlock Bay by a half-length, winning a shade easier than the half-length margin of victory might suggest with the front two pulling twelve lengths clear of the third who turns out here in opposition.

The runner-up from that contest has won since, taking the Foxhunters at the Cheltenham Festival with a defeat of Billaway who also turns out here. However the Saint Des Saints gelding is taken to get back to winning ways having twice completed the course over these obstacles and finishing third in the 2017 Grand Sefton Chase.

With top amateur William Biddick taking the ride he looks sure to mount a bold bid and the consistent veteran ought to make his presence felt.

Aintree tips for Thursday 8 April. Sametegal is proven over the National fences and can win the Aintree Foxhunters' Chase.

Aintree tips for Thursday 8 April. Sametegal (right) is proven over the National fences and can win the Aintree Foxhunters’ Chase.

4:40 Aintree – Close Brothers Red Rum Handicap Chase (Grade 3) (GBB Race) Cl1 (5yo+) 2m

ON THE SLOPES was possibly ridden too aggressively when fading into fourth in the Grand Annual Chase at Cheltenham last month but Chris Gordon’s charge could go well with this flatter track likely to play more to his strengths.

The consistent Librettist gelding got some just rewards for a string of consistent efforts last term with a brace of wins at Kempton and he has returned this campaign in good form where he’s run better than his finishing positions otherwise suggest.

Twice fifth at Cheltenham last autumn he returned from three months off and wind surgery to finish a fair third of four in a jumpers’ bumper at Kempton in February prior to tackling the Grand Annual where he finished seven lengths’ fourth behind Sky Pirate where he led over the last but was unable to sustain his effort up the hill.

This flatter track will suit given his form around similar flat tracks and off the same mark he could be capable of a big run assuming this doesn’t come too soon.

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

Unbeaten Eileendover is respected having looked very smart in reeling off a hat-trick including in a Listed contest last time and Pam Sly’s charge arrives fresh from three months off.

However ELLE EST BELLE lost no caste in defeat when finishing third in the Champion Bumper at the Cheltenham Festival and Dan Skelton’s charge can get back to winning ways.

The Fame And Glory mare had won twice prior to that run, scoring over this course and distance in October on her debut with an impressive victory over Windswept Girl before she went to Cheltenham and shared a Listed prize when landing a dead-heat with Ishkhara Lady.

She progressed again behind Sir Gerhard and Kilcruit, running on well but no match for the crack Irish pair and beaten around seven lengths. A repeat of that effort will put her firmly in the mix and while she needs a shade more on these terms where she is giving Eileendover 6lbs despite being rated 4lbs below she arguably sets the form standard on that Cheltenham run and if this doesn’t come too soon then she ought to go close.