Cue Card among the entries for fabulous Grand Opening Day at Aintree’s Randox Health Grand National Festival

Entries are unveiled today for Grand Opening Day, Thursday, April 6, which gets the 2017 Randox Health Grand National at Aintree underway.


Cue Card (Colin Tizzard) is one 10 entries for the G1 £150,000 Betway Bowl Chase (2.50pm) over three miles and a furlong. The 11-year-old is a nine-time G1 winner, including in the 2016 Betway Bowl.


Cue Card comes to Aintree, having fallen three fences from home in the G1 Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup and doing exactly the same 12 months earlier.


Also engaged in the thrilling Betway Bowl Chase are Silviniaco Conti (Paul Nicholls), winner of the contest in 2014 and 2015, while G1 Lexus Chase victor Outlander (Gordon Elliott) is one of three Irish-trained possibles along with stablemate Empire Of Dirt, fourth in the G1 Ryanair Chase at the Cheltenham Festival and Sub Lieutenant (Henry de Bromhead), who was two places ahead of Empire Of Dirt at Cheltenham.


Bristol De Mai (Nigel Twiston-Davies), successful in the G2 Peter Marsh Handicap Chase at Haydock Park in January, Aso (Venetia Williams), Smad Place (Alan King) and Tea For Two (Nick Williams) complete the possible line-up.


Betway Bowl – Betway prices:

7/4 Cue Card; 7/2 Empire Of Dirt; 6/1 Bristol De Mai; 13/2 Outlander; 11/1 Tea For Two; 12/1 Silviniaco Conti, Sub Lieutenant; 18/1 Smad Place

Each way 1/5 odds 1-2-3


On The Fringe (Enda Bolger IRE) and Pacha Du Polder (Paul Nicholls) head 32 confirmations for the £40,000 Randox Health Fox Hunters’ Chase (4.05pm) over the Grand National fences.


The J P McManus-owned On The Fringe, Betway’s 7/4 favourite, is bidding to become the first three-time winner of the two mile, five furlong contest after faultless performances in 2015 and 2016.


Pacha du Polder (3/1) provided amateur rider Bryony Frost with the biggest victory of her career in the St James’s Place Foxhunter Chase at Cheltenham earlier this month, with On The Fringe two and a half lengths back in fourth.


Co Antrim handler Graham McKeever is looking forward to re-opposing the pair with Balnaslow (8/1). The 10-year-old led turning for home at Cheltenham, but made a significant mistake at final fence and eventually finished fifth.


McKeever said today: “For the first couple of days following Cheltenham, Balnaslow was tired enough after all the travelling and that but since then he has been working away and has come back to himself very good.
“If anything, I think he has improved a bit from Cheltenham. I am more confident heading to Aintree than I was going to Cheltenham.
“He lost a shoe at Cheltenham but I am not sure it made that much of difference. It certainly wasn’t the difference between winning and losing. I think the mistake at the last was more costly and, had he got a flyer there, he would have been much closer.
“If he takes to the fences at Aintree next week, he is going to take some whacking! He does jump very well and when he goes to the front and gets into that nice rhythm he has, it takes a lot of horses out their comfort zone. We think he can run a big race.
“Derek O’Connor is booked to ride.”


Other notable acceptors include Rebel Rebellion (12/1, Paul Nicholls), winner of the 2013 Betfred Grand Sefton Handicap Chase over the course and distance, plus Dineur (20/1, Mickey Bowen) and Mendip Express (16/1, Philip Hobbs), who were second and third last year.


Randox Health Foxhunters’ Chase – Betway prices:

7/4 On The Fringe; 3/1 Pacha Du Polder, 8/1 Balnaslow; 12/1 Persian Snow, Rebel Rebellion; 14/1 Poole Master; 16/1 Bears Affair, Big Fella Thanks, Mendip Express, Mr Mercurial; 20/1 Black Thunder, Broken Eagle, Dineur, Distime; 25/1 Grand Vision, Loch Ba; 33/1 Flash Gordon, Top Cat Henry; 40/1 Darwins Fox; 50/1 Decade Player, Fitz Volonte, Moscow Chancer, Never Complain, Richmond, Sizing Solution; 66/1 Bound For Glory, Premier Portrait, Tony Star, Vincitore; 80/1 Sam Cavallaro; 100/1 Damian’s Dilemma, Mr Moss

Each way 1/5 odds 1-2-3


Grand Opening Day commences with the £100,000 G1 Manifesto Novices’ Chase (1.45pm, 13 entries) over two and a half miles. The entries include Road To Respect (Noel Meade), who could attempt to follow up on his success in the G3 Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable Plate at Cheltenham. Other eye-catching entries are G1 Racing Post Arkle Novices’ Chase runner-up Cloudy Dream (Malcolm Jefferson) and Top Notch (Nicky Henderson), second in the G1 JLT Novices’ Chase.


Further G1 action is provided by the £100,000 Doom Bar Anniversary 4-Y-O Juvenile Hurdle (2.20pm), for which impressive G1 JCB Triumph Hurdle Defi Du Seuil (Philip Hobbs) is one of 12 entries along with Flying Tiger (Nick Williams), who could step up in class following his victory in the Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle at Cheltenham earlier this month. There is the chance of a Royal runner, with Her Majesty The Queen’s Forth Bridge (Charlie Longsdon) engaged. The son of Bernadini won in Listed company at Musselburgh in February.


The fourth G1 contest on Grand Opening Day, the £200,000 Betway Aintree Hurdle (3.25pm) over two and a half miles, has reopened for entries until 11.00am tomorrow (Saturday, April 1).


Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase fourth Top Gamble (Kerry Lee) is one of 24 entries for the £90,000 Betway Red Rum Handicap Chase (4.40pm) over two miles, while Grand Opening Day comes to a close with the £45,000 Listed Goffs Nickel Coin Mares’ Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race (5.15pm, 22 entries).

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