Apr 9, 728 days ago

Aintree Thursday Preview

Aintree Thursday Preview

The Grand National meeting gets under way on Thursday with a top quality card featuring four Grade 1 races.

The Arkle Chase form comes under scrutiny in the opening Manifesto Novices’ Chase with Cheltenham third and fourth, Josses Hill and Vibrato Valtat, renewing rivalry. They have an extra half-mile to travel here and the Nicholls runner may have paid the price for trying to chase Un De Sceaux last time.

Nicky Henderson’s Hargam represents the Triumph Hurdle form in the Juvenile Hurdle at 2.15. The grey was third behind stable companions Peace And Co and Top Notch at the festival and should enable Tony McCoy to put a winner on the board. Devilment was further back in fourth place while Bouvreuil was runner-up in the Fred Winter Hurdle.

McCoy partners the favourite Holywell in the Betfred Bowl at 2.50 and he will be hard to beat. Jonjo O’Neill’s gelding is usually at his best in the spring and ran a good race to finish fourth in the Cheltenham Gold Cup. Silviniaco Conti is on a retrieval mission after disappointing in that race while Henderson steps Ma Filleule back up to three miles after finishing second in the Ryanair.

The final Grade 1 of the opening day is the Aintree Hurdle at 3.25 with Champion Hurdle runner-up Arctic Fire set to clash with 2014 Champion Jezki. Ruby Walsh takes over on Arctic Fire for the first time since October as the six-year-old steps up to two and a half miles for the first time. Jezki has won over this trip but has proved difficult to settle this season and McCoy will need to be at his best to steer this one home.

The first race over the Grand National fences is the Fox Hunters’ Chase at 4.05 with a maximum field of thirty set to go to post. On The Fringe won with plenty in hand under Nina Carberry at Cheltenham and will be strongly fancied to complete the double. Sam Waley-Cohen is re-united with last year’s winner Warne while Twirling Magnet represents the Jonjo O’Neill stable.

Next Sensation bids to follow up his victory in the closing race of the Cheltenham festival in the Red Rum Handicap Chase at 4.40 with McCoy’s mount, Ned Buntline, 8lbs better off this time. The gelding was unable to provide the fairytale ending to McCoy’s rides at the festival when finishing fourth but should enjoy the better ground.

Also bidding to complete a Cheltenham/Aintree double is Call The Cops in the last race for Nicky Henderson. He has gone up 7lbs for that victory and is re-opposed by the second and third, Unique De Cotte and The Tourard Man.

Selections: 1.40 Vibrato Valtat, 2.15 Hargam, 2.50 Holywell, 3.25 Arctic Fire, 4.05 On The Fringe, 4.40 Ned Buntline, 5.15 Call The Cops

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