Neil Morrice brings you all of his best bets and tips for day one of the Aintree Festival as well as Taunton, Chelmsford City and Blairlogie.
Check out Neil’s Day 1 preview
HEALTH GRAND NATIONAL MEETING, DAY 1
Race 1 SSS SUPER ALLOYS MANIFESTO NOVICES’ CHASE (Grade 1)
Trainer: David Pipe – Jockey: David Noonan
This sees a combination of horses that ran at the Cheltenham Festival and did not, and in the belief that freshness can be a vital component here, UMBRIGADO is taken to upstage some shorter-priced foes. Unbeaten in three outings over fences, he was a leading fancy for the PaddyPower Plate but his trainer’s decision to swerve that and wait can prove a wise one. The selection has a potent turn of foot that can carry him home in front of Hitman.
Race 2 DOOM BAR ANNIVERSARY 4-Y-O JUVENILE HURDLE
Trainer: David Pipe – Jockey: Tom Scudamore
ADAGIO to end the unbeaten record of Monmiral is the way I see this going. Pipe’s strong challenge on the early races at the meeting is again evident, and Adagio can make this a fourth success for his trainer from six outings since joining Pond House from France. He eventually bowed to Quilixios in the Triumph Hurdle last month, but can come roaring back in this much easier version.
Race 3 BETWAY BOWL CHASE (Grade 1)
No5 MISTER FISHER
Trainer: Nicky Henderson – Jockey: Nico de Boinville
Having been unlucky in the Ryanair Chase when a mistake at the water jump signalled the beginning of the end for him, MISTER FISHER can put the record straight on a step up to three miles that his trainer thinks can’t come soon enough. Ironically he was travelling beautifully at the time of his error, and managed to stay in touch until coming down the final hill as his class kept him in contention. These Mildmay fences are made for the seven-year-old, who gets a narrow verdict over Clondaw Castle.
Race 4 BETWAY AINTREE HURDLE (Grade 1)
No2 BALLYANDY (Each Way)
Trainer: Nigel Twiston-Davies – Jockey: Sam Twiston-Davies
Question marks hover over many in this cracking heat including former champion Buveur D’Air who is having only a second outing in almost 18 months. While that horse is capable of an earning run, at a huge price BALLYANDY could get into the argument. He was no match for Buveur D’Air when they met at Haydock and has been beaten on all five starts this season. However he has a habit of getting into the money whatever the grade of race he’s in, and if some of these underperform he’s the type that could capitalise.
Race 5 ROSE PATERSON RANDOX FOXHUNTERS’ CHASE
Trainer: Willie Mullins – Jockey: Mr P Mullins
Although the Irish are to a large extent keeping their powder dry for Punchestown, they look to have a potent player in the hunter-chase in BILLAWAY. It was by just a short head that he gave best to Porlock Bay in the Cheltenham Fox Hunters, and his superior form and sound jumping make him very much the one to beat over these National fences.
Race 6 CLOSE BROTHERS RED RUM HANDICAP CHASE (Grade 3)
No14 GREY DIAMOND (Each Way)
Trainer: Sam Thomas – Jockey: Sam Twiston-Davies
This will be a furiously-run two miler with the ability to stay out of trouble a possible trump card. It’s partly for that reason that GREY DIAMOND gets the vote to give his in-form trainer a first Aintree winner. The selection ended a run of near-misses by way of his superior jumping at Sandown last time, while his liking for being competitive near the head of affairs should keep him clear of trouble.
Race 7 GOFFS UK NICKEL COIN MARES’ BUMPER (Grade 2)
No16 TWEED SKIRT (Each Way)
Trainer: Nicky Henderson – Jockey: James Bowen
With Eileendover carded to start a warm order it might pay to look to TWEED SKIRT for the value. The selection impressed on debut under Rules at Wetherby and was in no way disgraced when third in a Listed bumper at Sandown. She’s probably got a lot more to offer.
Race 4 No10 FLANAGANS FIELD (Each Way)
Trainer: Bernard Llewellyn – Jockey: Lewis Stones
Now 5lb lower than for his last win, the kind-travelling FLANAGANS FIELD can gain an overdue success in a race that should be run to suit. He got going too late at Chepstow last time, but a tighter track like Taunton will play more to his strengths
Race 8 No9 TOUTATIS (Nap)
Trainer: Fergal O’Brien – Jockey: Paddy Brennan
TOUTATIS has troubled the judge on both starts under Rules. The first came in a Kempton jumper-bumper run on Polytrack, but he showed he handles turf when chasing home Imperial Hope at Doncaster and this looks easier.
Race 7 No5 JUNGLE COVE
Trainer: Jessica Harrington – Jockey: Shane Foley
It might have taken JUNGLE COVE a long time to put his head in front, but with the benefit of that confidence-boosting experience the floodgates can now open. The gelding had placed on five other Polytrack outings and looks guaranteed to put in another solid effort.
Race 5 No1 ARLECCHINO’S ARC (Each Way)
Trainer: Mark Usher – Jockey: Jason Watson
Having been out in the wilderness for a while, ARLECCHINO’S ARC is ready to bounce back after a much improved effort when second at Kempton last time. The money was down that day, and any losses can now be recouped.
Race 6 No4 AVENTURIERE (Nap)
Trainer: Mark Johnston – Jockey: Franny Norton
AVENTURIERE looked to score with plenty up her sleeve over course and distance last week, and can successfully carry a 5lb penalty to complete a fine hat-trick. The Archipenko filly hasn’t looked back since being stepped up in trip, and is one to follow until beaten.
Place Accumulater Perm (Races 1-7)
6, 2 x 6 x 6, 1 x 2 x 1, 3, 4 x 4 x 2, 4