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 preview of each race on the opening day of the 2021 Aintree Festival.
With a little bit of knowledge and a few choice tips, it’s a great guide to Day One.
Doom Bar Anniversary Juvenile Hurdle (Grade 1) – 2M 1F
Monmiral has been deliberately targeted at this race and sidestepped the Cheltenham Festival.
The four-year-old bids to keep his unbeaten record intact as he steps into the toughest field and highest grade he has ever competed in.
He seemingly loves a flat surface having recorded his three wins to date at tracks such as Haydock, Doncaster and Exeter.
There is undoubtedly more to come from this improving sort and he is well capable of Paul Nicholls his first winner in this race since Zarkandar back in 2011.
Tritonic and Adagio had hard races three weeks ago and whilst respected, they have endured their fair share of racing this season.
Betway Bowl Chase (Grade 1) 3M 1F
Tip: Native River
Danger: Clan Des Obeaux
Native River ran another huge race in the Cheltenham Gold Cup when fourth to Minella Indo. He may have been beaten by younger and less exposed rivals that day but it was still a cracking effort.
He has not endured too much racing this season with this only being the fourth run of his campaign and is a particularly versatile sort having won on every type of ground from good to heavy.
There looks to be nothing of the calibre of opposition that beat him last month in this race.
He is also the only previous course and distance winner in the field and that augurs well for his chances.
Betway Aintree Hurdle (Grade 1) 2M 4F
Tip: Buveur D’Air E/W
Danger: Jason The Militant
Buveur D’Air could well be the each-way bet to nothing here. He too has been deliberately held back to take in this race which has seen its fair share of previous Champion Hurdlers taking the spoils.
He injured himself after a surprise defeat to Navajo Pass at Haydock back in January, but Nicky Henderson should have him ready to fire on all cylinders here.
Whilst he is a ten-year-old he has only limited mileage on the clock and the former Champion Hurdler can serve it up to the younger generation who have endured long hard seasons.
He won this race back in 2017 and should make a bold attempt to reclaim his crown.
Randox Foxhunters’ Hunters’ Chase – 2M 5F
Danger: Mighty Stowaway E/W
Age is only a number particularly when it comes to this to this race. The last four renewals have been won by horses aged eleven or older.
Stats show that to be successful in this race you need a horse that is capable of racing prominently and staying there.
The last two winners of the race had previously finished within the top seven in the Cheltenham equivalent just a few weeks prior to this.
Latenightpass ran a fantastic race there and can hopefully gain some overdue compensation here.
He has been lightly raced so far this season and provided that last run hasn’t left too much of a mark, he is more than capable of playing a leading part here.
Billaway is likely to go well again but had an extremely hard race last time and may find a few fresher here.
Red Rum Handicap Chase (Grade 3) (Class 1) – 2M
Tip: Dostal Phil E/W
Danger: Moon Over Germany
Recent trends have shown a favourable advantage going to novices’ in this particular race.
Moon Over Germany, Bentelimar, Double W’s and Katachenko all fell into that category.
Dostal Phil likewise is such a novice and has proven himself to be fairly sharp in this sphere.
He appreciates a flat track as all of his better efforts have come and Newbury and Exeter.
He does have a bit of work to do to reverse recent form with Grey Diamond, but meets that rival on five pounds’ better terms today. Looks the pick of the McManus trio and looks solid each-way value.