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Grand National Day One Tips and Selections

We’ve got plenty of action kicking off at Aintree over the next few days, and we will be getting things off with a bang opening day.

In the BGC Partners Liverpool Hurdle, it’s simply all about the Paul Nicholls-trained Big Buck’s; the only Cheltenham banker to truly deliver this year. We saw plenty of cheek from Ruby Walsh when he had Big Buck’s under a hand-ride on the way home; vintage Ruby on a vintage horse.

You’ll find Big Buck’s trading at 1/3, which is a slim price, but he’s well-poised to offer value at the top end of your forecast tickets at the absolute least. Look to Souffleur and Tidal Bay on the bottom end of your ticket. Possol is trading at 40/1 and isn’t a bad each-way shout if he can rediscover some of that early-season form.

In the Matalan Anniversary 4 Y-O Novices Hurdle we are seeing punters shifting towards Ruby Walsh and Paul Nicholls once again with the ultra-talented Sanctuaire. You’ll find him listed at around 2/1 and this one is definitely not as clear cut as some of the others. These are jumpers that we’ll likely be seeing a lot of over the next few years and I can see 6/1 Barizan and David Pipe’s Notus De La Tour at 15/2 being the big dangers.

A Ruby Walsh/Paul Nicholls’ double to open the Grand National meet isn’t a bad bet and it could really exercise the ghosts of a forgettable Cheltenham Festival for Nicholls.

Cheltenham Gold Cup Winner Imperial Commander has drifted to odds-on as he tackles a field of 5 in the Totesport Bowl Chase going 3m1f. It was a really great performance that day, but you get the feeling that it would have been a different story if Kauto had been in top form that day.

Trading at 3/1, what a Friend looks to get some revenge for the Nicholls yard. The Sir Alex Ferguson-owned seven year-old oozes quality and ran second to Denman in the Hennessy Gold Cup this year. He’ll be on my radar next year as a possible Ten to Follow suggestion. He’s beaten several contenders in this race already. Tony McCoy boards Nacarat for this one and he’s expected to be the spoiler at 9/2.

In the Alder Hey Imagine Appeal Red Rum Handicap Chase we have a Grade 3 group lining up for a fairly large race going 2m. The early betting favourites are Consigliere and Pigeon Island who can both be backed at 7/1.

Neither of them really inspires a huge amount of confidence in me and I’ve got my eyes on a few of the longer-odds each-way selections in this wide-open race. Nobody here is really dropping down in class much, so I’m opting for Watch My Back. The Ferdy Murphy-trained gelding ran a disappointing 10th in the Byrne Group Chase at Cheltenham, and he weakened significantly a few fences from the finish.

The drop in distance from 2m5f to 2m should give him the boost he needs. His 14/1 price looks good, while Kilmackilloge is decent value at 14/1 as well. This one is really up in the air though.

In the Totepool manifesto Novices’ Chase we have a fairly short field of 7 set to contest this one. Somersby is the current 5/4 favourite and he’s done fairly well for himself- boasting stellar ratings and a decent 2nd place finish to Sizing Europe in the Arkle at Cheltenham. He’ll be looking to build on that one here and has every chance of winning. You may choose to opt for the fresher option- The Nightingale, who trades at 5/2 and skipped Cheltenham. He’s taken two on the bounce with Ruby Walsh in 2010 and is looking to complete his hat-trick. Tom Scudamore’s The Jazz Musician is a low-key spoiler who brings good value at 33/1 and he’s won over the distance.

The final race of the day, the Silver Cross Handicap, is a listed race with no real favourites emerging. I do think that Black Jack Blues is worth a look to finish top 4 while my win only may be staked on either Maraffeq or Pagan Starprincess. The prices aren’t out on this one yet, and it is a very wide-open race.

I expect a decent day out for the favourites and I am expecting a few big performances from Ruby Walsh.

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