Aintree Grand National Festival 2021: Day One Preview
The Aintree Grand National Festival begins in some style with four Grade 1 races to look forward to. Here we preview all the action including Tiger Roll's return to Aintree in the Bowl Chase.
Six-year-olds have dominated recent runnings of the race, winning six of the last seven renewals, and that whittles the field neatly down to Fusil Raffles and Protektorat. The first-named heads the betting and it’s hard to argue otherwise based on his runner-up performance in the Marsh Novices’ Chase behind Chantry House. He’s a winner over the trip and will love the better ground but he did have a hard race at Cheltenham and preference would be for Hitman, who despite not hitting the age criteria, arrives fresher. He was a disappointing faller in the Scilly Isles but his subsequent performance at Newbury was impressive. Of the rest of the field, The Shunter made a mockery of the handicapper when winning the Plate at Cheltenham and while a hat-trick of victories is likely to be a step too far in this class, he’s sure to give his running.
- Fusil Raffles
- The Shunter
Just six go to post with Paul Nicholls’ Monmiral likely to go off odds-on and the Grade 2 winner is very much the one they all have to beat. The form of his Haydock win last time looks excellent given he put over seven lengths between himself and Nassalam, who was second in the Finale Hurdle behind Adagio who lines up here. David Pipe’s charge put in a strong performance when finishing second in the Triumph and looks the most likely candidate to follow Monmiral home.
Native River is the only Gold Cup runner who turns up here following a fine run into fourth that day despite coming off the bridle a long way out. He has an excellent record at Aintree and Jonjo O’Neill Jr. has won on him before, but the 11-year-old is likely to find one or two too good here. Clan Des Obeaux, second in the race last year, is the current market leader but he’s looked well off his best this season and has to be taken on.
Waiting Patiently finished in front of Paul Nicholls’ runner in the King George, which looked a run full of promise, but he failed to back that up at Ascot. Tiger Roll is a fascinating contender given his past exploits at this course, he couldn’t have won the Cross Country at Cheltenham any easier, and while that’s a seriously unorthodox prep for this contest, as we’ve seen before, anything is possible with this horse.
Preference, however, is for Clondaw Castle, who was a good winner of a Grade 3 at Kempton last time. A line can be put through his performance in the Silviniaco Conti earlier in the season as he was badly hampered that day and he encountered unfavourable ground in the Peterborough Chase when finishing third behind Mister Fisher. He began this season with an excellent run in the Old Roan and while on the figures he has a bit to find, he looks the most capable horse in a field of runners that have been largely disappointing this year.
- Clondaw Castle
- Tiger Roll
- Native River
Paul Nicholls saddles yet another favourite in the final Grade 1 of the day in the shape of three-time Grade 2 winner McFabulous. Yet to finish out of the front three this season, he has solid claims but his jumping left a bit to be desired in the National Spirit last time and this is a really competitive renewal. Ireland are doubly represented by Abacadabras and Jason The Militant; there’s little to split the pair on their Morgiana running and preference would be for the latter with improvement likely to come on this better ground.
The switch back to hurdling has done the world of good for Brewin’upastorm and he’s not without a chance but at the prices, a chance is taken on this year’s Christmas Hurdle winner, Silver Streak. The switch to front-running tactics worked wonders for the eight-year-old at Kempton and his run in the Champion Hurdle can be forgiven as he needs a sound surface to put his best foot forward. He’s officially the top rated in the field and if he can dictate the pace, the extra few furlongs should be of little significance.
- Silver Streak
- Jason The Militant