Grand National Festival: ones to watch on day one at Aintree

The grass on the course is cut as preparations are made for the 2021 Randox Health Grand National

The grass on the course is cut as preparations are made on preview day of the 2021 Randox Health Grand National Festival at Aintree Racecourse - Credit: PA

The opening day of the 2021 Randox Health Grand National Festival gets underway at Aintree today (Thursday), a year after the meeting was cancelled amidst the Covid-19 pandemic.

This year’s event is taking place behind closed doors and the best of the action on day one of the meeting has been selected for followers.

The highlight on the card is the Grade One Betway Bowl (3.25pm) which carries a prize fund of £150,000.

The headline act is Tiger Roll (5/1) who chases success in the three-mile event for the first. The dual Grand National hero bounced back to form with a stunning win in the Cross Country Chase at the Cheltenham Festival in March and will be suited by drying ground conditions in this event.

His main rivals include Clan Des Obeaux (5/2 favourite) who finished second in the Denman Chase on his last start, but is another likely to enjoy this flat track and better track.

Native River (7/2) finished a fine fourth in the Gold Cup last month and is feared as a former winner of this race, along with Waiting Patiently (4/1) who will enjoy a flat track at Aintree and has been kept fresh for this assignment.

The Grade One Betway Aintree Hurdle (3.25pm) is another highlight which features the progressive McFabulous (3/1) who was a smart winner at Kempton, before finding Brewin’upastorm (11/2) too strong in testing ground at Fontwell on his latest start.

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Abacadabras (7/2) was a nearly faller in the Champion Hurdle, but is another with a live chance given he looks sure to enjoy this step up in trip.

Buveur D’Air (10/1) is a former winner of this event and is a danger if returning back to his best form, as is Jason The Militant (7/2) who has the services of Rachael Blackmore and warmed up for this assignment with an easy win at Fairyhouse last time out.

Elsewhere on Thursday’s card, the opening Grade One Manifesto Novices’ Chase (1.45pm) looks to be a battle between Fusil Raffles (5/2 favourite) and Hitman (11/4).

Fusil Raffles chased home stablemate Chantry House in last month’s Marsh chase at the Cheltenham Festival and will relish better ground conditions here, whilst Hitman is progressing with each run for Paul Nicholls and looks a worthy adversary. Recent Cheltenham Festival hero The Shunter (4/1) also warrants a mention.

Monmiral (4/5 favourite) will look to make it five wins out of five in the 4-Y-O Juvenile Hurdle at 2.20pm. He cruised to success at Haydock on his latest start and has been kept fresh for this assignment by Nicholls, with Adagio (7/4), a solid second in the Triumph Hurdle at Cheltenham in March a likely challenger ahead of the unexposed John Locke (14/1) who shaped with promise on debut for Dan Skelton at Kempton in February.

Thursday selections

1.45pm Fusil Raffles 5/2f

2.20pm Adagio 7/4

2.50pm Native River 7/2

3.25pm McFabulous 3/1

4.05pm Billaway 3/1

4.40pm Getaway Trump 5/1

5.15pm Eileendover 5/6

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