We all love the Grand National but the Aintree Festival is a huge event with plenty of racing action for fans.

Often, these races get a little overlooked as millions of us choose our favourite National runners.

However, we also know that part of the excitement of the big race is the build-up. So with that in mind, Karl Hedley has put together a day one preview of each race on the opening day of the 2024 Aintree Festival.

With a little bit of knowledge and a few choice tips, it’s a great guide to Day One.

Manifesto Novices’ Chase (Grade 1) – 1:45PM

Tip: Ginny’s Destiny

The Manifesto Novices’ Chase, inaugurated in 2009, has since seen 14 renewals, with its Grade 1 status awarded after just three runnings.

Notably, 10 of the 14 victors had participated in either the Arkle or Turners at the Cheltenham Festival the preceding month, although the most recent trio of winners opted out of the festival altogether.

The track at Aintree favours horses with a strong history over two-miles, whether in hurdling or fencing, making natural pace a significant asset when evaluating races at the Grand National event.

Past Winners

Below are the confirmed entries for the Manifesto Novices’ Chase with some recent form notes to help point you in the right direction of identifying the winner.

BLOW YOUR WAD – TOM LACEY & STAN SHEPPARD

Acts on any ground and responded well to second-time cheek pieces in the Pendil Chase (2m4f Grade 2) back in February, taking Kempton record to three from three.

He faces a stiffer task on this third attempt at the Aintree festival but comes here fresher than his rivals, having bypassed the Cheltenham Festival, and may rate higher still.

COLONEL HARRY – JAMIE SNOWDEN & GAVIN SHEEHAN

Acts on heavy going and has some useful form, having finished second in the Henry VIII (1m7f Grade 1) at Sandown and won the Towton (2m3f Grade 2) at Wetherby.

However, his Turners effort (well behind Grey Dawning and Ginny’s Destiny) confirms that he’s below the top tier in this division and may well struggle here as a result.

GINNY’S DESTINY – PAUL NICHOLLS & HARRY COBDEN

Appears to handle any ground. He is a progressive front-runner who has done very well at Cheltenham (2m4f) for new yard this term, including a defeat of Grey Dawning (who admittedly looked unlucky) for the middle leg of a hat-trick.

He was a creditable 2L second to that rival in the Turners most recently, having rallied and kept on gamely; a likely easy lead on this sharper track gives him the possible edge in this latest rematch though and no surprise if the form was to be reversed.

GREY DAWNING – HARRY SKELTON & DAN SKELTON

Runs well on heavy going and was an unlucky second to Ginny’s Destiny at Cheltenham in December (might have won but for a bad error two out) but turned the tables in the Turners four weeks ago, beating that opponent by two lengths.

He is well suited by the stiff 2m4f on both occasions and in between he won over 3m (Grade 2). He is not obviously crying out for this return to a sharper 2m4f, regardless of ground, but otherwise has the best claims on form and is still improving.

IL ETAIT TEMPS – WILLIE MULLINS & PAUL TOWNEND

Seems versatile ground-wise. He is a Grade 1 winner in his own right at about 2m over hurdles and fences, latterly in this season’s Irish Arkle at Leopardstown.

He did well to finish third in the Arkle at Cheltenham (2m) most recently, having made some errors, and he shaped as if this return to a longer distance is well worth exploring; smart 6yo who has clear possibilities, particularly granted a better round of jumping.

Key Trends

  • 11 out of the 14 winners transitioned to chasing after just one season of hurdling.
  • 10 of the 14 winners participated in either the Arkle (5) or Turners (5) races at the Cheltenham Festival.
  • Notably, all 14 winners suffered defeat in their most recent outing.
  • 12 out of the 14 winners occupied a position within the top 3 of the betting.
  • Among the past 13 winners, 11 possessed a rating of 150 or higher.
  • 11 out of the last 12 winners had accumulated 4 or 5 starts over fences.

Tips For The Manifesto Novices’ Chase

Paul Nicholls may have seen Ginny’s Destiny turned over at Cheltenham a few weeks ago, but he will be confident that his improving eight-year-old gelding can excel himself on a course where front-running sorts do very well.

The ground is sure to be tacky following all this rain. As has been seen so many times, it could well pay to string out the opposition from the get go.

Ginny’s Destiny is the only pace angle here and if let loose under Harry Cobden, he could be difficult to gather in.

Boodles Anniversary 4-Y-O Hurdle (Grade 1) – 2:20PM

Tip: Sir Gino

Danger: Kargese

Elevated to Grade 1 status in 2005, the Anniversary 4-Y-O Juvenile Hurdle stands as Britain’s second Grade 1 event in this category, succeeding the downgrading of Chepstow’s Finale Hurdle over Christmas.

Prior to 2005, Triumph Hurdle champions were required to carry a penalty in this race, making the completion of the Cheltenham-Aintree double more attainable.

However, appearances of Triumph winners still remain scarce. Nonetheless, when they do compete, their track record is formidable, with recent dominance observed among those who finished within the top three on Gold Cup day.

French-bred juveniles and fillies also command significant respect in this event.

Past Winners

Below are the confirmed entries for the Boodles Anniversary 4-Y-O Hurdle with some recent form notes to help point you in the right direction of identifying the winner.

DIRTY DEN – SYD HOSIE & BENJAMIN POSTE

Has shown some promise with his bumper form, but he struggled as an outsider in his recent appearance at Cheltenham, which was his second race for a new stable.

Transitioning to hurdling in this competitive field may prove challenging for him.

This looks a monumental ask and would need an absolute career best to trouble the best of these.

INTELLOTTO – JOSEPH O’BRIEN & JJ SLEVIN

Displayed his ability by leading throughout a heavy-ground race at Limerick last month, bringing his hurdles record to 2 wins out of 3 races.

While still relatively inexperienced, he faces a tough enough challenge as he seeks to make up a 9-length deficit to Kargese based on their previous Grade 1 encounter at Leopardstown.

He sidestepped Cheltenham to come here, but given similar conditions to last time, he may struggle to reverse form with the Mullins runner.

KALIF DU BERLAIS – PAUL NICHOLLS & HARRY COBDEN

Thrives in heavy conditions and has impressed since joining Paul Nicholls’ yard from France. With two victories at Kempton under his belt, he remains undefeated.

Although his recent Grade 2 win in the Adonis required some effort, his trainer holds him in high regard, suggesting he has more to offer and is a strong contender here.

This track should suit him and he cannot be entirely ruled out given that others have question marks hanging over them or indeed have already endured a long season.

NURBURGRING – JOSEPH O’BRIEN & DANNY MULLINS

Put in a respectable performance in the Triumph Hurdle, but fell further behind Kargese compared to their previous meeting at Leopardstown.

To be competitive, he needs to elevate his performance from that disappointing Cheltenham outing.

It does nothing to inspire confidence that the stable jockey has opted to ride his stablemate and his sights may be best lowered.

SIR GINO – NICKY HENDERSON & NICO DE BOINVILLE

Has previously demonstrated a preference for heavy conditions as he won at Auteuil. He hails from France and boasts an impressive unbeaten record.

His dominant display at Cheltenham in January, where he won a Grade 2 race, showcased his potential.

Although he was withdrawn from the Triumph Hurdle due to his stable’s underperformance around Cheltenham week, he remains an exciting prospect, provided his yard’s fortunes improve for coming here.

KARGESE – WILLIE MULLINS & PAUL TOWNEND

Proficient in heavy ground and has shown consistency and progression, highlighted by her form figures of 121212.

Despite finishing second to Majborough in the Triumph at Cheltenham, she claimed Grade 1 honours at Leopardstown prior to that.

With a 7lb weight allowance against some exciting unbeaten rivals, she presents solid credentials.

She is no back number and if Sir Gino underwhelms, she will be there to pick up the pieces.

Key Trends

  • 11 of the past 18 winners finished in the first 3 of the Triumph Hurdle
  • 14 of the past 18 winners had won a Graded race earlier in the season
  • 10 of the past 15 winners started their racing careers in France
  • Horses rated 152+ are 5-8 since 2007 Since the race was upgraded, all 8 Triumph winners to have run have finished either 1st or 2nd (5 have completed the double)
  • 16 of the past 18 winners had won at least twice over hurdles
  • 15 of the past 18 winners were in the top-3 on official BHA Ratings

Tips For The Boodles Anniversary Hurdle

Sir Gino was all the rage for the Triumph Hurdle before concerns were raised about the health of the Nicky Henderson yard.

He remains full of untapped potential and is undefeated in all starts thus far. He won’t mind the bottomless ground as he won on similar going at Auteuil on his debut.

The form of his most recent Grade 2 win is beginning to work out as Excelero has won subsequently.

Should he fail to give his true running, the mare Kargese is likely to benefit the most.

She ran an excellent race when chasing home Majborough in the Triumph Hurdle and is set to receive seven pounds from her male counterparts here.

William Hill Bowl Chase – 2:55PM

Tip: Gerri Colombe

Danger: Shishkin

Originally established in 1984 under the name of the Martell Cup, the Aintree Bowl is now granted Grade 1 status and has been since 2010.

It stands as the premier steeplechase event among the four elite races inaugurating the Grand National fixture.

Five horses boast the distinction of clinching victory in the Bowl twice, with the most recent achievers being Silviniaco Conti and Clan des Obeaux, both trained by Paul Nicholls, a six-time winner of the race.

Notably, triumphs in both the Gold Cup and the King George have served as reliable indicators of potential success in this esteemed competition in recent years.

Past Winners

Below are the confirmed runners for the Bowl Chase with some recent form notes to help point you in the right direction of identifying the winner.

AHOY SENOR – LUCINDA RUSSELL & DEREK FOX

Despite recent setbacks and a subpar performance at Cheltenham this season, particularly over 2m5f/2m4f in the last two outings, Ahoy Senor boasts an impressive track record at this event.

Notably, he delivered a commendable performance in the same race last year (under good to soft conditions), narrowly losing out to Shishkin in the final stretch.

With proven effectiveness on soft ground, the nine-year-old remains a contender capable of a strong showing.

BRAVEMANSGAME – PAUL NICHOLLS & HARRY COBDEN

The King George Chase runner-up (over 3m, soft) and Gold Cup runner-up (over 3m2f, soft) from last season has experienced a slight dip in form this term, evidenced by his recent fifth-place finish in this years’ version just last month.

However, his second-place finish in the King George (over 3m, good) showcased a glimpse of his former brilliance and what he is capable of on his day.

The addition of cheek-pieces might provide a positive impact, keeping Bravemansgame right in the thick of the action.

CORBETTS CROSS – EMMETT MULLINS & MARK WALSH

Following a commendable 6-length runner-up position in a Grade 1 novice chase at Leopardstown (over 3m, soft) in December, Corbetts Cross displayed significant improvement while wearing a hood for the first time, securing a commanding victory in the Grade 2 NH Chase at last month’s Cheltenham Festival (over 3m6f, heavy).

Despite transitioning to more formidable competition outside of novice ranks, his impressive recent performance raises intrigue regarding his potential limitations.

This is by far his toughest opposition to date and it remains to be seen whether he can make an immediate impact at this level.

GENTLEMANSGAME – MOUSE MORRIS & DARRAGH O’KEEFE

Emerging victorious over Bravemansgame (conceding 6lb) by approximately 2 lengths in the Grade 2 Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby (over 3m, soft) in November, Gentlemansgame showcased prowess in just his third chase start.

Although his sole subsequent outing resulted in a disappointing pull-up in the Gold Cup last month, the addition of a tongue-tie for the first time since 2022 suggests potential for improvement.

Gentlemansgame’s past successes hint at latent capabilities despite those recent setbacks and it would be foolish to dismiss him out of hand.

GERRI COLOMBE – GORDON ELLIOTT & JACK KENNEDY

Dominating the Grade 1 Mildmay Novices’ Chase over C&D (under good to soft conditions) at this same meeting last year, Gerri Colombe reaffirmed his prowess with a Grade 1 victory at Down Royal (over 3m, soft) on reappearance this season.

His fine second-place finish in last month’s Gold Cup at Cheltenham (over 3m2f, soft) further solidifies his standing as a top contender.

Despite a taxing race at Cheltenham, Gerri Colombe’s limited outings this season suggest he may retain leading claims provided that the previous race hasn’t taken its toll.

SHISHKIN – NICKY HENDERSON & NICO DE BOINVILLE

Last year’s victor (under good to soft conditions), Shishkin’s season faced a setback with a refusal to race on reappearance (his only outing in cheek-pieces).

Despite a potential victory in the Grade 1 King George at Kempton (over 3m, good) thwarted by stumbling/unseating just after two out, Shishkin demonstrated readiness with a Grade 2 win at Newbury (over 2m7f, heavy) in February.

Although absent from last month’s Gold Cup due to unsatisfactory scope results, Shishkin remains a pivotal contender if performing at his peak, despite lingering concerns about stable form and ought to make a bold attempt to retain his crown.

THUNDER ROCK – OLLY MURPHY & SEAN BOWEN

Returning to a longer trip at Kelso (over 2m7f, good to soft) last month, Thunder Rock secured victory in decisive fashion in a Listed chase.

With previous successes on soft ground, this 8-year-old holds promise over staying distances, yet faces stiff competition from rivals with more substantial track records.

Thunder Rock’s potential for improvement remains uncertain in this Grade 1 as he faces his toughest opposition to date.

Key Trends

  • 25 of the 39 winners had run in the Gold Cup at Cheltenham
  • 8 of the past 12 winners had run in the King George (14 of the past 25 winners had finished in the first 4 of the King George)
  • Paul Nicholls has won the race 6 times this century
  • The past 12 winners were all beaten last time out
  • 10 of the past 13 winners returned at 7-2 or shorter

Tips For The Bowl Chase

GERRI COLOMBE has been given a fairly lenient season by connections and having found only Galopin Des Champs too strong in the Gold Cup at Cheltenham, this seems like a decent consolation prize.

He won on his seasonal appearance at Down Royal when just getting the better of Envoi Allen and then turned in two solid efforts at Leopardstown and Cheltenham.

He comfortably saw off three of these last time out including Bravemansgame, Gentlemansgame and Ahoy Senor.

There is no obvious reason as to why they should reverse the form on this type of ground and he looks to be the one they all have to beat.

Shishkin will make him work for it though and if fully over what has been ailing the yard, he looks to be the biggest threat.

William Hill Aintree Hurdle – 3:30PM

Tip: Bob Olinger

Danger: Mahons Glory (4 Places)

The Aintree Hurdle stands as the sole Grade 1 hurdle race in Britain over an intermediate distance for the entire season.

It holds the distinction of being the only Graded hurdle event over such a trip among all the spring festivals.

Previously scheduled on Grand National day, it was relocated to the opening day of the fixture in 2013, historically attracting a mix of Champion Hurdle contenders and stayers.

With the advent of the Liverpool Stayers’ Hurdle on day three, three-mile specialists now have an alternative option.

Al Eile and Oscar Whisky, the last pair of multiple winners, excelled at this distance.

Morley Street holds the record with four victories, while a prestigious list of past winners includes Istabraq, Barton, The New One, Annie Power, Buveur d’Air, Epatante, and most recently, Constitution Hill, completing the Champion Hurdle-Aintree Hurdle double.

Delving into the annals, illustrious names like Comedy Of Errors, Night Nurse, Monksfield, Dawn Run, and Danoli also grace the Roll of Honour as champions of this esteemed prize.

Past Winners

Below are the confirmed runners for the William Hill Aintree Hurdle with some recent form notes to help point you in the right direction of identifying the winner.

BEACON EDGE – GORDON ELLIOTT & JACK KENNEDY

Despite finishing fourth in the 2021 Stayers’ Hurdle at Cheltenham, Beacon Edge’s recent performances haven’t matched his past successes.

While he showed promise in the Coral Cup last month, his form has waned badly, and at 10 years old, he would be a most unexpected winner today.

BOB OLINGER – HENRY DE BROMHEAD & RACHAEL BLACKMORE

Although he fell short of his superstar potential after an easy victory at the 2021 Cheltenham Festival, Bob Olinger has undergone a revival this season.

With two Grade 2 wins over 2m4f and a notable second-place finish in the Irish Champion Hurdle, he returns as a leading contender, particularly with the distance now in his favour.

IMPAIRE ET PASSE – WILLIE MULLINS & PAUL TOWNEND

After impressive Grade 1 victories last spring, Impaire Et Passe has faced strong competition this season.

Despite a third-place finish behind Bob Olinger in the Irish Champion Hurdle, the return to a longer distance offers a chance to reverse fortunes.

While the previous front-running tactics may not have suited him, he remains a contender with the potential to reverse the form.

LANGER DAN – DAN SKELTON & HARRY SKELTON

Consistently successful in competitive handicaps over the past three seasons, including two Coral Cup victories.

Langer Dan faces a tougher challenge stepping up to Grade 1 level. While he may not be the top pick, his past performances make him a viable each-way option, if he can get over his recent Cheltenham exertions.

MAHONS GLORY – PAT NEVILLE & SAM TWISTON DAVIES

With a career-best performance in a recent handicap victory at Kempton, Mahons Glory steps up in grade with potential.

While it’s uncertain how far his abilities can take him, his previous promise on softer ground adds to his appeal as a potential each-way bet at generous odds.

NEMEAN LION – KERRY LEE & RICHARD PATRICK

While Nemean Lion struggled in the Champion Hurdle, his previous form, including a Grade 2 win at Wincanton, suggests he’s capable of more.

If he can rediscover his earlier form, he could be a contender for an each-way finish.

LUCCIA – NICKY HENDERSON & JAMES BOWEN

Showing promise with a third-place finish in last month’s Champion Hurdle, Luccia’s pedigree suggests she can handle the increased distance.

With a top trainer and a track record of success, she shouldn’t be discounted despite lacking experience beyond an extended two-miles.

MARIES ROCK – NICKY HENDERSON & NICO DE BOINVILLE

Despite a lacklustre season and uncertainties surrounding her stable, Marie’s Rock shouldn’t be overlooked.

Past successes, including a Grade 2 win at Doncaster and a strong performance in last year’s Liverpool Hurdle, demonstrate her ability to compete, especially over softer ground and at this 2m4f trip.

Key Trends

  • Every British-trained winner had run at the Cheltenham Festival
  • The past 11 winners (and 14 of the past 17 winners) had already won a Grade 1
  • 6 of the past 12 winners were trained by Nicky Henderson
  • 32 of the 46 winners had run in the Champion Hurdle
  • 25 of the past 29 winners were aged 6-8
  • The past 15 winners returned at 15-2 or shorter
  • 14 of the past 29 winners were trained in Ireland
  • 9 of the past 22 winners had won at this meeting previously (although only 1 of the past 9 winners)

Tips For The Aintree Hurdle

The main contenders in this race are likely to be the Irish duo of BOB OLINGER and Impaire Et Passe.

They both secured commendable positions, finishing second and third respectively in the Irish Champion Hurdle last February, and are expected to benefit from the return to a longer distance.

Impaire Et Passe is capable of more than he displayed in his last outing, possibly hindered by leading the race, but he faces a 5-length deficit to Bob Olinger, who is favoured to emerge victorious.

With Nicky Henderson’s notable record of accomplishment in this event, Luccia and Marie’s Rock could also put in strong performances if the stable is in top form.

However, for those seeking an each-way bet, Mahons Glory presents an intriguing option at generous odds, despite stepping up in class, following an impressive showing in a handicap at Kempton back in December.

Day One Preview Conclusion

So there you have our best tips and our Day One preview of the 2024 Aintree Grand National Festival.

As always, look around the various bookmakers for the best odds available if you fancy any of our selections.

Good luck!

Betfred

BETFRED OFFER

BET £10 GET £50 IN BONUSES

New customers only. Register (excl. 13/04/24) with WELCOME50. First bet £10+ at Evens (2.0)+ on Sports within 7 days to get Free Bets: £20 In-Play, £20 Acca & 50 x £0.20 (£10) Free Spins on Fishin’ Frenzy within 10 hours of settlement. 7-day expiry. Eligibility & payment exclusions apply. Full T&Cs apply. begambleaware.org. #ad. Please bet responsibly.