Guide to The Aintree Grand National Festival Day 1 – Key Betting Angles

La Bague Au Roi beats Topofthegame in the Kauto Star Novices' Chase at Kempton

The Grand National Festival kicks off our Aintree Tips on Thursday, where we are straight into the Grade 1 action with the opening four contests all at the highest level. They’re followed by the first look of the National fences with the Open Hunters’ Chase.

We have previews and thoughts on every single runner over the three days of the Grand National Festival, so check out our analysis to give you a helping hand!

Grade 1 Races

The opening contest is the Manifesto Novices’ Chase where star mare La Bague Au Roi bids to maintain her unbeaten record over fences and make it a third successive Grade 1. Glen Forsa unseated early on in the Arkle at Cheltenham so is aiming to bounce back, as is Kalashnikov, who could benefit from this step up in trip.

Next up is the Anniversary 4-Y-O Juvenile Hurdle, where both four year old winners from Cheltenham, Band Of Outlaws and Pentland Hills, take their chances. It’s sure to be a high quality affair with those two in the mix and it’ll confirm the best juvenile around.

Bristol De Mai, Clan Des Obeaux, Elegant Escape and Kemboy all ran in the Gold Cup, but all produced differing performances. The former fared best in second while the latter exited at the first fence. Throw in Ryanair third Road To Respect as well as last seasons winner of that race Balko Des Flos, and we have a small but quality field for the Betway Bowl.

The Aintree Hurdle is the final Grade 1 of the day and Buveur D’Air, who won this contest two years ago, will be aiming to make amends for an early departure in the Champion Hurdle when last seen. That mishap may have left it’s mark considering how low he usually is over his obstacles and there are a host of challengers to find out any chink in his armour once again.

NAP of the Day

Today’s best bet runs in the opening race on the card and it’s none other than Warren Greatrex’s extremely likeable mare, La Bague Au Roi.

Her attitude is second to none, she jumps brilliantly and is simply all class. She beat Topofthegame and Santini at Kempton on Boxing Day and with those two filling the front two positions in the RSA Chase last month, it’s difficult to see her beaten here if she produces anything like that form.

Outsider to Watch

Twelve months ago after winning the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, if anyone would have said Summerville Boy would be nearing the outsider of the field for the Aintree Hurdle a year down the line, you likely wouldn’t have believed them.

He was found to have had a hairline fracture following a pair of disappointing runs this season and with that healed now, it could be a prosperous end to the campaign. If able to find his form that saw him win two Grade 1’s last season, then he should be bang there.

Having finished the Supreme so strongly last March, this extra distance should be an advantage to him.

In-Form Trainer

Phillip Kirby has been in tremendous form the past two weeks, with 7 of his 19 runners winning at a strike rate of just under 37%. That has also equates to a level stakes profit of £24.13 over the same period.

He has a pair of runners at Aintree today:

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