RACING expert Graeme Johnston (@GraemeJ_83) picks out his best bets from the opening day of the Grand National Festival from Aintree.
13:45 Aintree | Thursday 4th April 2019 | ITV
The Grand National meeting kicks-off with Grade 1 action in the shape of the Davenish Manifesto Chase over two miles four furlongs and it's a pretty decent renewal. It will be interesting to see what effect Cheltenham has had on the ones who race here but I'm backing one with Festival form.
La Bag Au Roi is a fantastic mare and missed Cheltenham to be fresh for Thursday. She is a dual Grade 1 winner but my concern with her is she is not the same horse in the spring with multiple defeats at big Festivals, her sole win at this time of year being at odds of 1/4 so I can take her on.
I'm backing Mengli Khan each-way (8/1 Ladbrokes). I don't think the Arkle was a great race this season and Mengli Khan was third in the JLT on his first attempt at this trip, which I think is stronger form. He made a mistake late on and this easier track can see him get his head in front.
14:20 | Thursday 4th April 2019 | ITV
The Juvenile Hurdle looks a battle between two Festival winners with the Triumph Hurdle winner and the Boodles Juvenile Handicap champion going head-to-head. Perhaps surprisingly, the handicap winner is favourite here but I'm of the opinion he should be.
Band Of Outlaws (15/8 Paddy Power) was one of the most visually impressive winners all week at Cheltenham and he very much won like a group horse in a handicap. Rated 20lbs above the favourite on the flat, he looks to be improving all the time over obstacles and I expect him to win here.
14:50 | Thursday 4th April 2019 | ITV
The Betfair Bowl is the Aintree Gold Cup and it's a small yet very select field lining up with every horse having won at Grade 1 or Grade 2 level in the past. Much depends on the freshness of these horses given they all ran at Cheltenham, however one may hold the advantage.
Kemboy unseated at the first in the Gold Cup, and despite running loose it is likely to have left less of a mark on him than the ones who finished the race. He was an impressive winner of a Grade 1 at Christmas in Ireland and this track and a small field should be ideal for him.
13:45 Aintree – Mengli Khan each-way (8/1 Ladbrokes)
14:20 Aintree – Band Of Outlaws to win (15/8 Paddy Power)
14:50 Aintree – Kemboy to win (5/2 BetVictor)