Countdown to day one of Grand National Festival at Aintree

The opening day of the 2022 Randox Grand National Festival takes centre-stage on Thursday with a card that includes four Grade One events.

By Sports reporter
Tuesday, 5th April 2022, 3:27 pm
Updated Tuesday, 5th April 2022, 3:28 pm
The opening day of the 2022 Randox Grand National Festival takes centre-stage on Thursday
The opening day of the 2022 Randox Grand National Festival takes centre-stage on Thursday

The first race is at 1.45pm and the seven-race card comes to a close at 5.15pm.

We have previewed the action with our race by race guide. The ground at the track is currently Good to Soft and there are showers forecast. Check out the latest odds at Betfair1.45pm Manifesto Novices’ Chase (2m 4f)

A Grade One lacking quality. Pic D’Orhy returned to winning ways with Grade Two success last time out and is greatly respected along with Gin On Lime who returns after a break. However, Erne River has progressed rapidly through the ranks this year, winning both of his starts over fences and he is open to stacks more improvement.

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Selection: Erne River

2.20pm 4-Y-O Juvenile Hurdle (2m)

Pied Piper undoubtedly sets the standard following his fine third in the Triumph Hurdle and a reproduction of that effort would make him very tough to beat. Brazil won the Boodles Juvenile Handicap Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival and is also respected, along with last time out scorers In The Air and Petit Tonnerre.

Selection: Pied Piper

2.55pm Betway Bowl Chase (3m)

Clan Des Obeaux ran out a ready winner of last year’s renewal by 26 lengths, but he has arguably disappointed in two starts this term and is worth taking on. Conflated was shaping with promise before falling in the Ryanair Chase, whilst Gold Cup third and fifth Protektorat and Royale Pagaille command respect. However, preference is for Kemboy who was the 2019 winner in some style and he has been kept fresh for this assignment.

Selection: Kemboy

3.30pm Aintree Hurdle (2m 4f)

Monmiral needs to build on two disappointing efforts this term, whilst Brewin’Upastorm was a thrilling winner of this event 12 months ago. However, this should rest between Champion Hurdle second and third Epatante and Zanahiyr. Epatante steps up to two and half miles for the first time and is deeply respected, but Zanahiyr is already proven over this trip and has been a model of consistency this season. He is taken to come out on top here.

Selection: Zanahiyr

4.05pm Foxhunters (2m 5f)

The first race this week over the Grand National fences. Cousin Pascal already boasts winning form over course and distance, whilst the likes of Cat Tiger, Le Breuil, Pont Aven and Stand Up And Fight all command respect. However, preference is for Jett. He has experience over these fences, including when eighth in. last year’s Grand National and this drop in trip should undoubtedly suit.

Selection: Jett

4.40pm Red Rum Handicap Chase (2m)

Sky Pirate is respected off top-weight, whilst Grand Annual hero Global Citizen also has to be towards the top of the shortlist. However, Before Midnight is already a dual winner this term and he finished a fine second to subsequent Champion Chase runner-up Funambule Sivola at Doncaster last time out. A reproduction of that run would see him go close here.

Selection: Before Midnight

5.15pm Bumper (2m)

Patrick Mullins takes the ride of Ashroe Diamond who was not disgraced when fourth in a competitive event at Leopardstown last time out. Lady Excalibur already boasts winning form over course and distance and Rachael Blackmore is a fascinating jockey booking. Kateira, River Of Joy, Rosy Redrum and Magical Maggie are all interesting runners, but Naughtinesse looks an interesting runner for Lorna Fowler having scored at the second time of asking at Fairyhouse and she is taken to come out on top in the finale.

Selection: Naughtinesse