When I studied the opening day card for Aintree last night, three things were in my mind; the freshness of the horses (did they skip Cheltenham), the likely testing going conditions which have an impact on the first point, and the individual nature of the track itself (a flatter, speedier track).
When it's soft at Aintree, it takes a bit of getting, so I am inclined to keep my money in my pocket until I see how deep the ground is and the impact of a long winter and a tough Cheltenham on the well being of horses. On the flip side, horses have had 27 days to recover from Cheltenham, a week longer than normal.
One horse that may have had a hard race at Cheltenham was Gold Cup runner up 'Might Bite', clearly the best horse in the Bowl at 2.50, one of four Grade 1 races on today's card. Trainer Nicky Henderson is clearly happy that his horse is in good condition, because he didn't risk sending stable mates 'Altior' or 'Buveur D'Air' to Liverpool. 'Might Bite' is the best horse in the race, but is not a betting proposition at odds on.
In the opening Novices' Chase at 1.45, I like the Paul Nicholls trained Cyrname. This horse ran well behind 'Terrefort' on his penultimate start and the form was franked when 'Terrefort' found only 'Shattered Love' too good at Cheltenham. 'Cyrname' is fresh, a front runner and a good jumper with scope to improve. He may prefer to race right handed, but I do think he is a worthy favourite.
The second Grade 1 is a 2 mile hurdle for juveniles at 2.20. I am not having a bet in the race, but if I was, it would be on 'We Have A Dream', who once again comes into this meeting a fresh horse. 'Apple's Shakira' has questions to answer following her disappointment at Cheltenham. They have placed headgear on her today to help her concentrate. Juvenile races can be unpredictable, so I am maintaining a watching brief and not making a selection on this one.
I don't believe 'Supasundae' represents value in the Aintree Hurdle at 3.25. Cheltenham was the aim all season, and the horse would arguably prefer better ground. Jessica Harrington's horse may well oblige, but I won't be taking an even money price on him. Of the others, the quirky 'L'Ami Serge' has the talent to win if putting it all together. If.
I like Eddies Miracle in the Foxhunter's Chase at 4.05. Ulster trainer David Christie sent out Darwins Fox to be 6th in the race last year and once again he has the services of Ireland's leading point to point jockey Barry O'Neill for 'Eddies Miracle'. This horse won nicely on heavy ground at Down Royal last time out and has been running well in points. He could potentially make the frame.
I am on the side of King's Socks in the 2 mile handicap chase at 4.40. The David Pipe trained horse has form with star novice 'Footpad' from France and ran well at Cheltenham. He doesn't have many miles on the clock, will go on the ground and jumps nicely. He cruised through his race at Cheltenham before appearing not to stay. The shorter trip may make him hard to stop today.
In the concluding Mares' bumper at 5.15, there is money for the Richard Johnson mount 'Cedar Valley'. The John Queally trained 'Getaway Katie Mai' sets the standard based on her second placed finish behind subsequent Cheltenham winner 'Relegate' at Leopardstown. However, with not a huge amount of evidence to go on, I am keeping my money in my pocket for this finale in slow conditions.
So to summarise, I have placed small win bets on Cyrname at 9/4 in the 1.45 and King's Socks at 4/1 in the 4.40, and a small each way bet on Eddies Miracle at 22/1 in the 4.05.
Bet responsibly folks and enjoy!