Aintree’s Grand National meeting is almost here and with plenty of stars on show, including recent Cheltenham Festival winners, there’s plenty to get stuck into.
Myracing has dipped into the action with our best bet of the week, an outsider of the week, and our lay of the week for Aintree 2019.
Having seen off a smart field including Santini and Delta Work in the RSA at the Cheltenham festival, it’s little surprise to see Topofthegame a short-priced favourite for Aintree.
With the second favourite in the early betting (La Bague Au Roi) looking to be heading for the easier assignment of the Manifesto on the opening day of the meeting, his task has been made considerably easier.
A giant of a horse and already as short as 7/1 for the 2019 Cheltenham Gold Cup. he is fully expected to lay down another marker of his dominance as a novice this week.
The 4yo Juvenile Hurdle has the chance to be one of the most interesting races of the entire meeting at Aintree this week.
Obviously, the Grand National will grab the headlines, but this looks like one that could tell us a lot about the future.
Pentland Hills, who was a surprise 20/1 winner of the Triumph Hurdle at Cheltenham currently leads the market and could face the Joseph O’Brien trained Band Of Outlaws, who also won the Fred Winter at the Festival last month.
Both look to have real potential, especially Pentland Hills, who won the Triumph on only his second start over obstacles. The first was a 14-length victory at Plumpton.
However, with both running in competitive races at Cheltenham, it could hand the advantage to the Paul Nicholls-trained Christopher Wood who missed the Festival in favour of Aintree.
He has won twice over hurdles, most recently at Newbury, since moving to Ditcheat from Michael Bell, and is well liked by connections, with assistant trainer Harry Derham immediately targeting a step up in Grade after that convincing win last time.
Fans of the breeding side of the game may also be interested that both Band Of Outlaws and Christopher Wood are sired by Fast Company. Owned by Godolphin, he was a top juvenile himself on the flat, winning the Acomb Stakes at York.
Despite being a dual Champion Hurdle winner, Buveur D’Air has always had his doubters, but it is perhaps this season that he has really added fuel to his critics’ fire.
After convincingly beating Samcro in the Fighting Fifth back in December, it has been a bit of a rocky ride ever since. Beaten by stablemate Verdana Blue in the Christmas Hurdle, he then did enough to beat Vision Des Flos by two lengths at Sandown, but then came crashing down at the 3rd in the Champion Hurdle.
He just seems to have looked way below his best this season and upping him to 2m 4f in the Aintree Hurdle might not bring about the improvement that is hoped for. Of course, he did win the race back in 2017, but the field wasn’t as good as it is likely to be this week.
Benie Des Dieux, Melon and Faugheen are all confirmed opponents from the yard of Willie Mullins, while Gordon Elliott is likely to go with at least one of Apple’s Jade and Samcro.
Any of those are more than capable of catching Buveur D’Air on the cold, which doesn’t exactly leave you rushing to back him as your banker in the Aintree betting this week.