Horse Racing

Aintree Day 1 Tips: Magic Saint to cast a spell in the Foxhunters?

The Aintree Festival is finally here, so let’s go through the races on day one and see which betting options may be the best.

13:45 Manifesto Novices’ Chase

Only five runners go to post for the renewal of this race, but it’s plenty competitive. A case can certainly be made for Saint Roi, Banbridge and Stage Star, so finding the winner won’t be easy, though the one to get their head in front is highly likely to come from that trio.

It could just pay to go with the outsider of the three. Saint Roi was no match for El Fabiolo in the Arkle at Cheltenham last month, but he ran well in third, staying on as if this step up in trip would suit.

With the others likely to take each other on for the lead, the Willie Mullins contender is fancied to enjoy this extra test of stamina and come with a late run.

Best Bet: Saint Roi @ 7/2

14:20 Jewson Anniversary Juvenile Hurdle

In what is a really interesting novice event, Zenta is the hot favourite for Willie Mullins, who must be respected here having run well to take third in the Triumph Hurdle at Cheltenham. Such form is amongst the best on offer.

However, at bigger odds, Scriptwriter catches the eye. The mount of Harry Cobden didn’t thrive at Kempton last time out, but his effort before that at Cheltenham was strong, while he looked a very good sort when beating Perseus Way in a Triumph trial back in November. He also has the best speed rating to his name in here, so don’t be surprised if he troubles the favourite, who is likely to go off at short odds.

Best Bet: Scriptwriter (each-way) @ 15/2

14:55 Alder Hey Aintree Bowl Chase

This race could all be about whether Shishkin is back on song or not. The highly rated nine-year-old disappointed when heavy favourite at Cheltenham, though this step up in trip could help him do better.

Then again, he’s got some tough opposition here, despite the fact that only five go to post. If on a going day A Plus Tard is no back number, nor is Ahoy Senor, who has a very good Aintree record.

For my money, Conflated rates as the most interesting option, especially with 6/1 on offer in the early market. Gordon Elliott’s runner ran very well to finish third in the Gold Cup, and is likely to relish both this sharper test and the drop back in distance. After all, he stayed on strongly for second in this race last year, and I would not be surprised if he went one better here.

Best Bet: Conflated @ 6/1

15:30 William Hill Aintree Hurdle

They’re almost certainly going to be playing for places behind the unstoppable Constitution Hill, who is expected to be as short as anything ahead of what really ought to be a procession.

Constitution Hill
Photo by Icon Sport

Nicky Henderson’s Champion hurdler is easily the classiest horse in the race and unless something is hugely amiss, he’ll extend his unbeaten record.

Of the other five, any one could grab second, but if you’re interested in one at a bigger price, Sharjah could go well. The Mullins horse ran well in handicap company at the festival, staying on well despite carrying an awful lot of weight, and can now do better switched back to Grade 1 company.

Best Bet: Sharjah each-way @ 22/1

16:05 Foxhunters’ Open Hunters’ Chase

After what is likely to be the most one-sided race of the meeting, we get straight into one of the most competitive. 28 runners are due to start the Foxhunters’ and it’s a typically open looking renewal.

Winged Leader is fancied to go well having won each of his last three, though it takes a brave punter to really get behind one at 7/2 in a race of this nature. Latenightpass will surely be popular too, and for good reason. He won this last season, is very lightly raced, has been clearly waited with, and should have more to give for the same jockey.

However, as an each-way prospect, I really like Magic Saint, who has some decent graded form in the book and who looks well handicapped. His close-up second behind Benny’s King at Hereford looks solid, while he prepared well for this when jumping soundly and quickening clear at Wincanton last time out. What’s more, trainer Paul Nicholls likes to target this race, winning or placing with six of his last 24 runners.

Best Bet: Magic Saint (each-way) at 12/1

16:40 Close Brothers Red Rum Handicap Chase

This is another race where plenty have the credentials to do well. Douglas Talking romped home at Sandown last time out, shaping like a horse that had more to give, so it wouldn’t be a surprise if he went on to confirm favouritism for Lucinda Russell.

At bigger odds, though, Hasankey is interesting. The seven-year-old hasn’t won since landing a hat-trick at Wetherby in February of last year, but he’s performed with promise in recent weeks, finishing a decent second at Warwick last time out.

Moreover, horses low down in the weights have a positive record in this race, while this one, whose last-time-out speed rating can only be narrowly bettered by the favourite, also ticks a few other trends boxes, such as placing when last seen.

Best Bet: Hasankey (each-way) @ 12/1

17:15 Goffs UK Nickel Coin Mares’ NH Flat Race

In the bumper it really is a case of take your pick. This is a race of unknowns, that’s for sure.

Willie Mullins has a good record in the race and saddles a few, the most fancied of which is Jolie Coeur Allen, who has not run since finishing second in France for her previous stable.

If you’re looking for one at a big price, then there are plenty of options, but I’m going to try Ici La Reine. Trainer Warren Greatrex has placed with two of his last four in this race, while the mare comes here having won each of her first two starts, the last of which could hold her in good stead against a handful of slightly less experienced types.

Best Bet: Ici La Reine (each-way) @ 33/1

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