RACING fan Graeme Johnston (@GraemeJ_83) picks out his best bets from the opening day of Aintree.
15:25 Aintree | ITV1
The Aintree Hurdle used to be seen as a specialists race as it falls between the Champion Hurdle and Stayers Hurdle trips. This year has attracted a small field and from a form perspective only a couple of these should improve for the extra distance and it is likely Buveur D’Air will add to his trophy cabinet here.
Buveur D’Air was a fairly impressive winner of the Champion Hurdle and his switch from fences to hurdles was a masterstroke by Nicky Henderson.
Provided he settles well there is no reason to oppose him today and Barry Geraghty will get some small compensation after missing the Cheltenham Festival through injury.
The New One won this race as a 6 year old and has won multiple Graded races since then. He has won two of his four starts this season but he seems to fall short at the top level at this time of year however he is likely to run his heart out.
I’m taking a chance on one here who needs to improve a lot to win but there is something about him in really like. Rashaan was a promising juvenile last season which never quite made it to the top level. However he returned this season with a win over Apples Jade and Petit Mouchoir taking his form to a new level.
He then attempted to concede weight to Jezki and Tombstone on heavy ground where he isn’t effective and fell short. He will love this ground and I think he will stay this trip too. I’m taking a chance on him each way here.
16:05 Aintree | ITV1
The Foxhunters Chase is the first chance for us to see the National fences in action and this is seen as the amateur jockeys National. Plenty of course form is available here and that is invaluable over these fences.
On the Fringe has won this twice and comes here on the back of losing his Cheltenham crown and he never travelled with his usual zest.
He is 12 now and age may be catching up with him however he seems to love it here. There has to be question marks over him now and at the prices he is a little shorter than I’d back him at.
Pacha Du Polder won that Cheltenham race and has ran over these fences on three occasions completing each time. He is the one to beat and his stable is going a lot better than it was in March however he is still quite short in the betting to me. He is likely to run well and be involved at the finish but he’s not one for maximum faith.
I’m taking a chance on the fifth from the Cheltenham race in Balnaslow. He put in a huge effort from the front that day leading right up until the last.
He battled on well and it’s worth noting he lost a shoe that day too. This is over almost five furlongs less and if he gets into a rhythm and takes to the fences he could be hard to peg back here.
16:40 Aintree | ITV1
The Red Rum chase is a 15 runner handicap chase that looks typically tight and over 2 miles round here is sure to be run at a tremendous gallop. Plenty of these have handicap form but there is one here who is progressing nicely and stands out as a great bet.
Theinval is a previous course winner who seems to thrive at this time of year. He ran a huge race when third in Grand Annual and has been well supported already for the race. However he has only two chase wins to his name and both of these came in small fields. Though he has plenty of big field experience he is likely to find one or two too good.
Foxtail Hill is progressing up the chasing ranks and was sent off favourite for a novice chase at the Cheltenham Festival. He fell early on so it’s hard to tell if he was going to be competitive but he was coming into that on the back of two wins. This track should suit his front running style and he could well go close.
Double W’s was in the same race as Foxtail Hill and both shared top weight. Double W’s travelled noticeably well throughout that race and seemed to run out of stamina late on.
This race is over half a mile less and on a much flatter track so it’s a different test. With a strong pace likely and the drop in trip looking ideal I think Double W’s will take a lot of beating here.
15:25 Aintree – Rashaan each way (33/1 Ladbrokes)
16:05 Aintree – Balnaslow to win (9/1 Paddy Power)
16:40 Aintree – Double W’s to win (6/1 Ladbrokes)