Grand National Festival (Aintree) Day One Betting Tips – Thursday 12th April 2018

The biggest festival of them all may be in the books for another year with the 2018 Cheltenham meeting now having been and gone. We don’t know about you, but we simply can’t get enough of racing festivals and thankfully in this game there is always seemingly another one right on the horizon. In the National Hunt sphere we still have Punchestown to come over in Ireland, but first up… Aintree, and it’s this week no less.

Ask any non-racing fan to name a racecourse and chances are they will come up with the name of this Merseyside venue. That is of course due to the fact that Aintree is the home of the most famous steeplechase in the world, and the race which gives its name to this whole meeting. We have two whole days to get through before we arrive at Grand National Saturday though, and here we pick out our best bets for each of the seven Day One contests.

1.40 - Manifesto Novices’ Steeple Chase (Grade 1), 2m 4f

Cyrname to win at 4/1 with BetVictor

The balance of power has switched towards the younger performers in the Festival opener, with each of the past five winners being either five or six years of age. Whilst we have only had one winning favourite in the past nine years, the market has proven to be a good guide with no winner priced at bigger than 11/2 over this period.

Colin Tizzard’s Finian’s Oscar undoubtedly has the raw talent to take this if on a going day, but he has become unreliable of late and preference is for Cyrname from the yard of Paul Nicholls. The bare form of his 11-length win in the Pendil Novices’ Chase at Kempton last time is impressive enough, but even more so considering he made a bad blunder four from home and very nearly unshipped Sean Bowen.

2.20 - Anniversary 4YO Juvenile Hurdle (Grade 1), 2m 1f

We Have A Dream to win at 9/4 with Betfair

Apple’s Jade won this in 2016 and it is her full sister Apple’s Shakira who heads the betting this time around. Three from four since joining Henderson from France, it may be too soon to write her off on the back of her disappointing display in the Triumph, but with that race fresh in the memory, we will take her on here.

The one to be on is the other Henderson runner, We Have A Dream. Another French recruit, whilst Apple’s Shakira was slightly blotted her copybook, this one hasn’t yet. A perfect four from four for the yard, he has won on ground ranging from heavy to good and looks a horse firmly on the up.

2.50 - Aintree Bowl Steeple Chase (Grade 1), 3m 1f

Might Bite to win at 4/6 with BetVictor

We can’t see past the market leader in the Day One feature. Might Bite was way too good for all bar Native River in the Cheltenham Gold Cup last time out, only giving best in the closing stages having travelled supremely well throughout. This slightly shorter trip and easier track will place less demands on his stamina and we expect his class to come to the fore.

Already a winner over this course and distance, he will start odds on, but deserves to. Main market rival Bristol De Mai couldn’t live with him in the King George, and still looked to be getting over the exertions of trying to a couple of races later. It’s tough to see him turning the tables.

3.25 - Aintree Hurdle (Grade 1), 2m 4f

Supasundae to win at 11/10 with Betfair

Buveur D’Air, Annie Power, Jezki and The New One have won the past four editions of this. That’s three Champion Hurdler’s and one unlucky loser in the Cheltenham championship, suggesting that what we need here is the speed to show high class form over two miles.

We don’t have an English Champion Hurdler in the line-up this year, but we do have two runners up in addition to the winner of the Irish version. As such The New One, My Tent Or Yours and Supasundae could be the three to concentrate on. With each of the past nine winners of this being eight years old or younger, preference is for the eight year old Supasundae over The New One, who is 10 now, and the 11 year old My Tent Or Yours.

4.05 - Foxhunters’ Steeple Chase (Class 2), 2m 5f

Balnaslow to win at 5/1 with Betfair

Two-time winner of the race On The Fringe looks sure to prove popular with punters as he bids for a third success. Whilst he ran reasonably well at Cheltenham last time out, he doesn’t look quite the force of old at 13 years of age now and was pulled up in this last year.

The one we like is last year’s runner up, Balnaslow. Only beaten by one and a quarter lengths that day, he was keeping on as well as anything at the line and may well have won but for being caught a little flat footed at the Canal Turn. With that experience under his belt and on the back of a solid seventh at the Cheltenham Festival last time, we expect this Graham McKeever runner to go close once again.

4.40 - Red Rum Handicap Steeple Chase (Grade 3), 2m

Double W’s each way at 12/1 with BetVictor

One strong trend in this big field handicap affair is that only one of the past nine winners has carried more than 11st1lb to victory. It therefore seems to make sense to steer clear of those towards the top of the handicap. With seven of the past nine winners also being eight years old or younger, it also seems that the older performers may be at a disadvantage.

One who fits the bill, and in addition has been there and got the t-shirt, is last year’s winner Double W’s who goes for Ruth Jefferson. An inconsistent run of form since means he gets in off a two pound lower mark this time around, and having been given a nice break, and skipped the Cheltenham Festival, we expect him to be primed to go well.

5.15 - Mares’ Standard Open NH Flat (Grade 2), 2m 1f

Dulhallow Gesture each way at 10/1 with BetVictor

The day one finale hasn’t been the easiest race to call, with no winning favourites and five winners returning a double figure starting price in the past nine years. It therefore seems sensible to take an each way approach to the race.

The one we like is Duhallow Gesture from the yard of Anthony Honeyball. This £100,000 purchase made a perfect start to life at her new yard when only really having to be ridden out to score by two and a quarter lengths in a Listed contest at Huntingdon last time out. That effort can also be upgraded somewhat given how green she was during the race and the fact that she wandered about when hitting the front. Considering that run came back in December, there’s every reason to expect a more polished display here and she can make the frame.