Five Things To Watch Out For At Aintree

  1. Grand National Fences In Action Every Day

The fence-building programme starts approximately three weeks before the Grand National meeting is run, with around 150 tonnes of spruce branches sourced and transported from forests in the Lake District. Each fence is made from a wooden frame and covered with the distinctive green spruce.

Over the course of the festival the fences will in action on each of the three days; Thursday will see the amateur riders hurtle over them in the Foxhunter Chase, before Friday’s Topham Chase will allow the professional riders a practice ahead of Saturday’s Randox Health Grand National.

  1. Altior Strives To Hit 19

National Hunt Racing’s unbeaten champ looks like making the trip to Merseyside for a competitive renewal of 2 mile 4 furlong Grade 1 Melling Chase. Nicky Henderson’s charge will not only be looking to end his hitherto perfect season on a high, but also surpass the legendary Big Buck’s, whom he currently jointly holds the record for longest win streak at 18.

It may not all be plain sailing for Altior though as the highest-rated Chaser in training, Cyrname, could well be set to take him on.

Cyrame’s rider Harry Cobden seemed keen to take on the unbeaten champion in a recent interview, “He (Cyrname) demolished that field at Ascot and Altior only beat Politologue by a couple of lengths last time. I know it’s a different story and Altior may want a step up in trip now, but I’d be confident Cyrname would run a good race.”

  1. Memorable Fashion

Friday marks day 2 of the Grand National Festival, known simply as Ladies’ Day and it represents a chance for the fashion forward to come the fore. Every year the ladies of Liverpool pull out all the stops in the hope of winning the annual style award with the winner getting their hands on a brand new Range Rover.

The result of such competition means a varying number of daring, dazzling – and occasionally disastrous – outfits are put on display.

  1. Trainer Championship Battle

With the annual Jump Trainers’ Championship culminating on the 27th April at Sandown and with over £3 million in prize money to be won over the three days there may well be some chopping and changing at the top of the leader-board.

At the date of writing, 10-time Champion Paul Nicholls leads Nicky Henderson by over £400,000 but a big week for the Seven Barrow’s team could put them right back into contention.

Henderson certainly has chances with Altior and both Janika and Beware The Bear in the Topham Chase although his chances of bagging the big one don’t look so strong. The Lambourn-based handler is yet to saddle a winner in the Grand National but will be hoping that changes as he has outside chances in Kilcrea Vale and Valtor.

Nicholls on the other hand has saddled a winner of the prestigious race – when dashing grey Neptune Collonges won by a nose in 2012. However his chances of landing the race again this year look as slim as Henderson’s with 40/1 outsider Warriors Tale his main hope.

  1. Grand National

It is however the Randox Health Grand National that is the jewel in the Festival’s crown. The four mile 2 furlong race over 30 demanding fences is the most watched and consumed Horse Racing event of the year.

First run in 1839, the race is steeped in history and those that prevail etch there names in history. With over 600 million worldwide viewers and circa £250 million gambled in the UK alone, the race is a true spectacle for sporting public around the world.

The 2018 winner Tiger Roll comes into the race as a hot favourite having continued his good form this campaign. Following his victory in the Cross-Country chase at the Cheltenham Festival expectation has only been further heightened with bookmakers listing him as an early 4/1 favourite to emulate Red Rum and win the race in successive years. Should he go off at that price he would be the shortest price winner in the history of the race.


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