RACING expert Graeme Johnston (@GraemeJ_83) picks out his best bet from the opening day of the Grand National Festival from Aintree.
1:45 Aintree | ITV
A Grade 1 novice chase kicks-off the meeting = and it’s a great starting point.
It’s a case of ‘what might have been’ for a couple of these, who haven’t quite hit the heights expected of them, and I’ve taken them on with a progressive young chaser.
Brain Power (3/1 BetVictor) was well fancied for the Champion Hurdle last year but this headstrong individual rather flattered to deceive at the top level over hurdles.
He’s only got one win to his name over fences but he was a good second (albeit flattered) in the Arkle and this looks easier, although he isn’t one for maximum faith.
Finians Oscar (9/2 Unibet) won a Grade 1 novice hurdle at this meeting last year and I thought he was going to take high rank wherever he went.
However, a year on and I couldn’t back him here. He looks slightly ungenuine and seems to have regressed. I hope he comes back to his best soon, but I won’t be profiting if he does.
Cyrname (9/4 Ladbrokes) is an improving chaser who seems to have a great attitude to match his talent. Second in a Grade 1 over fences, that form looks solid and he will appreciate the soft ground.
His stable is going great guns and this fresh young chaser looks the one to beat here.
2:50 Aintree | ITV
The Betway Bowl is the race of the day and it has attracted a field of eight high-class chasers. The race revolves around the hugely talented Might Bite (5/6 BetVictor) but if the eight remain, I’ll be looking for an each-way alternative to the enigmatic favourite.
In my opinion, Might Bite is the best staying chaser around. He lost a titanic battle in the Gold Cup against a tough-as-they-come stayer who handled conditions that little better. However, I wonder what that race took out of him. It was ran at a solid pace and on soft ground here he may be slightly vulnerable.
Bristol De Mai (11/2 Unibet) looked like a superstar earlier in the season but he has disappointed on his last two starts. He’s been freshened up since and a wind operation may help him see his races out better than his last two starts.
He will love the ground and may be the one to benefit if Might Bite isn’t at his best.
I love Clan Des Obeaux (14/1 Bet365). I’m convinced he will become a top-class chaser and this may well be the day he does it.
His run at Cheltenham last time was far better than the bare form suggests. He struggled for pace, jumped poorly yet still only went down narrowly to a rival he was conceding almost two stone to.
He’ll like the ground, shapes as if he’ll stay and is fresh. I’ve backed him each-way here.
3:25 Aintree | ITV
The Aintree Hurdle is a rare Grade 1 for two-and-a-half mile hurdlers and it usually attracts a good field. Unfortunately, reigning champion Buveur D’Air is missing but that gives the field a chance to win a race they wouldn’t have expected to.
Supasundae (1/1 BetBright) has had an exceptional season and was narrowly beaten in the Stayers Hurdle. He was on edge before the race that day and it’s possible his Irish Champion Hurdle win and Cheltenham effort may have left their mark.
He is the most likely winner of this if 100%, but it’s a big if.
I’ve backed My Tent Or Yours (15/2 Betfair) to win this. He’s filled the runners up spot in seven of his last 12 races and finally got his head back in front on his last start.
He missed Cheltenham and that makes him fresher than his rivals here. As long as the rain doesn’t turn the ground heavy, I think he will finally get the big win he deserves.