Aintree Grand National Festival Preview – 12th to 14th April
Last updated: April 11, 2018 by Leon Marshal
The Aintree Grand National Festival gets under way on Thursday 12th April. Several of the star names from last months’ Cheltenham Festival meeting are absent but there are still three days of top quality National Hunt racing to enjoy.
Aintree – Thursday 12th April Preview
There are two Grade 1 races on the opening day, starting with the Betway Bowl at 2.50. Might Bite ran a great race in the Gold Cup but could not repel the dour stayer Native River. Trainer Nicky Henderson had expressed concerns about the soft ground that day and it may just have been his un-doing.
Conditions are expected to ride soft at Aintree on Thursday but this easier course will be in his favour. Providing his tough race at Cheltenham has not left its mark, Might Bite is the one that they all have to beat. Bristol De Mai has had a wind operation since disappointing in the Cotswold Chase in January. He represents the Twiston-Davies stable while Double Shuffle got closest to Might Bite in the King George on Boxing Day. He will be fresh after missing Cheltenham and should make the frame once again.
The late withdrawal of Champion Hurdler Buveur D’Air has provided Supasundae with a winning opportunity in the Aintree Hurdle at 3.25. Jessica Harrington’s eight-year-old won the Irish Champion Hurdle in February but was aimed at the three-mile Stayers’ Hurdle at Cheltenham. He was just outstayed by Penhill that day and this two and a half miles looks perfect for him. He should have too much speed for veterans’ My Tent Or Yours and The New One.
Henderson can also take the Juvenile Hurdle at 2.20 with We Have A Dream. He missed Cheltenham due to a minor setback but that could turn out to be a blessing in disguise. He makes more appeal than those horses that ran in the Triumph Hurdle. King’s Socks ran an eye-catching race at Cheltenham for David Pipe and could be the one to be on in the Red Rum Handicap Chase at 4.40.
2.20 We Have A Dream @2-1, 2.50 Might Bite @4-6, 3.25 Supasundae @11-10 (SunBets), 4.40 King’s Socks @5-1
Aintree – Friday 13th April Preview
The feature race on Friday is the £250,000 Melling Chase at 3.25. Altior is an absentee which appears to leave the way open for Min. The seven-year-old was runner-up in the Champion Chase, finishing well ahead of Politologue in fourth. He should confirm the form with that rival but may have most to fear from Ryanair Chase winner Balko Des Flos. Henry De Bromhead’s gelding picked off Un De Sceaux comfortably that day.
Global Citizen is strongly fancied in the Novices’ Hurdle at 2.20. He side-stepped Cheltenham to run here after winning at Kempton in February. Ben Pauling’s six-year-old beat Scarlet Dragon by nine lengths. The latter was a tough and consistent performer on the flat and was making his hurdling debut for Alan King. He could finish a lot closer with that experience under his belt and looks good each-way value.
2.20 Scarlet Dragon @10-1 (each-way), 3.25 Balko Des Flos @9-4
Grand National Day – Saturday 14th April Preview
Saturday’s card revolves around the Grand National at 5.15 which we have previewed in depth with our runner-by-runner guide.
Blaklion bounded into the lead last year but could not sustain his run and finished fourth. He is higher in the weights this year but looks sure to run a big race. Sam Twiston-Davies will be delaying his challenge this year to help Blaklion see out the trip.
Tiger Roll won the Cross Country Chase at Cheltenham last month to book his Aintree ticket. Davy Russell rides him superbly and will look to pick his way through the field on the second circuit. Read our Grand National Preview and runner-by-runner guide for an in-depth analysis of the big race!
ITV will be providing extensive coverage of the Aintree Festival with five races shown live each day. Coverage begins at 2.00pm on Thursday while the first and last races each day are broadcast live on RacingUK.