RACING fan Gaurav Chaddah (@GauravChaddah) shares his NAP, his best each-way bet and the market leader he suspects is most vulnerable on Day 1 of the Grand National Festival from Aintree on Thursday.
The NAP, the lay and the each-way on Day 1 at Aintree
The climax of the National Hunt season is nearly upon us, but this week we have the small matter of the Grand National Festival at Aintree, which begins on Thursday.
There is a mouthwatering card to kick-off proceedings, including four Grade 1’s and I’ll be looking at my NAP of the day, my lay of the day and a horse to back at each-way price on each day of the meeting.
NAP: 13:45 – La Bague Au Roi (9/4 Blacktype)
Trainer Warren Greatrex has made a late decision to run his star mare in this race as opposed to her original intended target, the three-miler on Friday and I simply can’t see her not passing the winning post in front.
The eight-year-old has been a revelation over fences this season and skipped Cheltenham to come to Aintree.
After two novice chase wins earlier on in the season, the classy mare really showed her class when winning the Grade 1 Kauto Star Novices’ Chase on Boxing Day. The form of that race has worked out very well, with the second that day the Paul Nichols-trained TopoftheGame who won the RSA at Cheltenham, beating Santini, who was third in the Boxing Day race.
Being a mare also means the rest of the field must concede six pounds to her and La Bague Au Roi already has the beating off SpiritoftheGames (8/ Sky Bet) who she beat by 21 lengths at Newbury in November, and Bags Groove (9/1 Bet Victor) who was 36 lengths behind her in the Boxing Day race.
Her two main rivals in the market are Glen Forsa (7/2 Bet365) and the Amy Murphy-trained Kalashnikov (9/2 William Hill), both of whom were bought down in this years Arkle. Glen Forsa easily had the beating of Kalashnikov at Sandown in February and even though he is back going left handed and steps up in trip, I still can’t see him getting closer.
Glen Forsa is a worthy opponent, but I really struggle to see him able to give weight to a mare who has been nothing short of outstanding this season and should take all the beating here.
LAY: 14:20 – Pentland Hills (15/8 Blacktype)
This is pretty much a two-horse race between Pentland Hills and Band Of Outlaws (15/8 Paddy Power) who are joint favourites whilst a chance is also given to the Supreme fourth Fakir D’oudairies (11/2 Bet365).
Many will feel Nicky Henderson’s horse is the one to beat here and it’s easy to see why. The four-year-old was an impressive winner of the Triumph Hurdle at Cheltenham, which was only his second start over hurdles, however, I have my reservations.
Whilst he travelled extremely well in to the race and found more than enough, his jumping his certainly up for debate, having almost gone at the first hurdle.
Furthermore, I have my doubts to how strong a race the Triumph was, with favourite Sir Erec fatally injured in running, who I feel would have had the beating of Pentland Hills quite easily.
I also feel the one to be onside with in this race is the joint favourite Band Of Outlaws for Joseph O’Brien who scored a quicker time over course and distance when winning the Fred Winter Hurdle at Cheltenham.
Whilst this is a step up into Grade 1 company, it was difficult not to be impressed with him, meeting trouble in running but showing a great turn of foot to quickly charge away and seal the race in the closing stages, he’s an improving horse and I feel he can see of the challenge of Pentland Hills.
Each-Way: 15:25 – Summervile Boy (25/1 Bet365)
Whilst I can’t see the favourite Buveur D’Air (10/11 Coral) being beat here, a declaration of nine runners has made this a nice each-way race and I fancy the Tom George-trained Summerville Boy to sneak into a place.
Despite making two big jumping errors, he obliged at odds of 9/1 to win last year’s Supreme, where he potentially looked a top-class horse in the making.
Things haven’t been so good however this season, where a hairline fracture has meant he has been off the track since the International Hurdle at Cheltenham in December.
He began his season at the Fighting Fifth Hurdle at Newcastle where he finished a 21-length last behind Buveur D’Air and again was a 20 length last in the International, with Silver Streak (18/1 Bet365) also ahead of him.
I think those runs can be excused having found only after those two runs the injury he sustained and has had enough time to recover. I get the feeling Tom George would have only bought back out this season if he genuinely felt he was ready, and a horse that can win a Supreme despite two massive jumping errors must warrant respect.
He seemed full of running towards the end of the Supreme so the step up to two-and-a-half miles can only be a positive as is the recent rain that has added ‘soft’ into the going description, having won both last year’s Tolworth Hurdle and then the Supreme on heavy ground.