On the first day of the 2019 Grand National meeting at Aintree, dual Champion Hurdle winner Buveur D’air will attempt to win a second Aintree Hurdle and that race is one of the highlights alongside a strong field in the Betway Bowl. Those races plus the other five contests are reviewed below.
The opening race of the Aintree festival features this near 2m4f novices chase and both Glen Forsa and Kalashnikov unseated their riders in the Cheltenham Arkle while Us And Them finished second behind useful winner Duc Des Genievres. Glen Forsa has proven ability at this distance but La Bague Au Roi is probably the horse feared by the others especially as she bypassed Cheltenham after winning all four starts this term. The Warren Greatrex mare has strong credentials at this trip and is a multiple Grade 1 winner in receipt of a weight allowance.
Selection: La Bague Au Roi to Win @ 13/8 with Paddy Power.
Band Of Outlaws won the juvenile handicap hurdle at Cheltenham and now steps up to Grade 1 company where he faces Triumph Hurdle winner Pentland Hills who has yet to be beaten in two starts over hurdles for Nicky Henderson. However, the Paul Nicholls trained Christopher Wood has won two minor events fairly easily and this former flat winner for Michael Bell could surprise the leading contestants in this race.
Selection: Christopher Wood to Win @ 11/1 with bet365.
Several horses who finished in the first six Cheltenham Gold Cup placings feature in this near 3m1f contest with Bristol De Mai hoping to improve upon his third position in that race. The flatter Aintree course should suit but the expected good ground conditions may be not be ideal. Clan Des Obeaux is also likely benefit from running on the flat Mildmay course while Elegant Escape may wish for a greater test of stamina. All three horses experienced a hard race in the Gold Cup but Kemboy was an unfortunate casualty at the first fence, and has won both graded runs in Ireland this term. He could be a fresher horse and could justify the faith of trainer Willie Mullins.
Selection: Kemboy to Win @ 5/2 with Ladbrokes.
For this Grade 1 2m4f hurdle, Buveur D’air will be aiming to redeem his reputation after failing to claim a third successive Champion Hurdle when falling at the third hurdle last month. The 8-year-old gelding has looked more vulnerable this term but he won this race in 2017 and may just need to race over this extended distance these days. Of his opponents, Faugheen may now just lack that necessary turn of foot at the end of races as may be the case of Champion Hurdle runner-up Melon. Verdana Blue should not be ignored after winning over 2m3f as a novice hurdler.
Selection: Buveur D’air to Win @ 5/6 with Betfred.
Having won his four previous races, Road To Rome attempted to make all of the running in the Foxhunters Chase at Cheltenham before finishing fourth and he may be suited by this shorter 2m 5f distance. However, that hard race may have lefts its mark on the 9-year-old gelding especially after a long season, and Top Wood appeals more as a winner. Second behind Pacha Du Polda in last season’s Cheltenham Foxhunters, he reappeared in the 2019 renewal to finish third behind Hazel Hill and could improve for that race.
Selection: Top Wood to Win @ 16/1 with Bet Victor.
Lady Buttons was fourth in the two miles novices chase at Aintree Last season, and has subsequently been campaigned over both hurdles and fences. Despite winning both chase events term, the Phil Kirby trained mare contested the OBLG Hurdle at Cheltenham last month finishing a creditable fourth and may have just been outpaced. Switching back to fences may be to her benefit. Take note also of Movie Legend who has won both races following wind surgery and appeals as an each-way hope.
Selections: Lady Buttons to Win @ 8/1 with Betfair.
Movie Legend (each-way) @ 18/1 with Betfair.
Misty Whisky has won her last two flat races and was the best finisher when winning a soft ground race at Sandown prior to the Cheltenham Festival. There was also much to like about the performance of Eyren when she won her only start at Doncaster during early March by a convincing margin. She could improve still further for that race.
Selections: Misty Whisky to Win @ 7/1 with bet365.
Eyren (each-way) @ 28/1 with Unibet.
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