Day one of the Aintree Grand National Festival. A brilliant card of top class jump racing is awaiting us – four Grade 1 races – that is simply sensational! The Aintree Hurdle in particular shapes as a cracker with the likes of Jezki, Arctic Fire and Rock On Ruby tackling the 2m 4f trip. Probably not a race to bet on, but to simply sit back and enjoy. Betting wise I’ve two selections for the day:
1.40 One Magnificent City Manifesto Novices’ Chase (Grade 1)
The first four in the betting have all been beaten by the same horse at Cheltenham… in fact they have been demolished. A sigh of relive for connections – there’s no Un De Sceaux here today! Josses Hill was the one who fared best last month, he finished a creditable third. He got a very good ride that day but was clearly ridden for a place. Things are different today and for that simple reason he looks short enough in the betting. He may not be able to ride his own race in a way he could do it the last time.
Vibrato Valtat may get closer this time with a different ride. He remains with potential, while Clarcam needs to show big improvement to be competitive. You could pick holes in each of the three better fancied runners here and I feel this might be one for an upset.
If there is a horse that looks potentially capable of causing an upset then it is Cash And Go. He’s been a decent hurdler, finished 3rd in a Grade 3 here at Aintree last season. He improved gradually this season over fences. Unseated his rider on his Chase debut, battled and won well the next time and demolished a small field in a minor race most recently.
He is still learning his game over the bigger obstacles and needs to improve his jumping if he wants to be competitive here. But he is a nice prospect, with more improvement to come and he may well be up to this class. I like to select him as a big price against the better fancied market leaders.
Cash And Go @ 20/1 Bet365 – 5pts win
3.25 Aintree: Betfred Bowl Chase (Grade 1)
It’ll be interesting to see how much the big guns have still left in the tank after a tough season and Cheltenham in particular. That says I’m surprised how the betting shapes for this race. Holywell looks an exciting prospect, no doubt, and he wasn’t disgraced in the Gold Cup at all. But I feel he is a wrong favourite. And improving sort with loads of potential – yes. But he hasn’t done yet what a Silviniaco Conti has done.
Conti was certainly disappointing at Cheltenham. However this was his only poor performance this season, ignoring his seasonal reappearance. Cheltenham doesn’t suit Conti, but Aintree does. He won this very same race last year, and the fact that he was such an impressive winner of the King George, should give him every right to be the favourite for this race.
The mare Ma Filleule is a consistent individual, always well fancied in the big races with her sex allowance, but she hasn’t been able to get her head in front in her last three races, where she had every chance to do so. She looks just a tick below the very best horses in this field. Don’t underestimate Menorah. On his day he could always spring a surprise. He’s kept fresh and has conditions to suit. But on most occasions he has been beaten by Conti in the past, and that should be the fate here again today.
Silviniaco Conti at 3/1 is a full point too big in my mind. It remains to be seen what damage the Gold Cup has done to him. But he bounced back last year to win this race, so I don’t see a reason why the same shouldn’t happen today again. He’s the class act in the field and I expect a big run with conditions sure to suit.
Silviniaco Conti @ 3/1 Bet365 – 10pts win