Jefferson hoping for Betfred Bowl success with Cape Tribulation on Grand Opening Day at Aintree

There is now less than a week until the 2013 John Smith’s Grand National meeting gets underway and the countdown intensifies today with the unveiling of the entries and acceptors for day one of the three-day spectacular, Grand Opening Day, Thursday, April 4.

Grand Opening Day offers high-class fare, with no less than four Grade One contests plus the John Smith’s Fox Hunters’ Chase over the famous Grand National fences.

The £150,000 Betfred Bowl (2.30pm, three miles and one furlong) has 11 possible starters including the Paul Nicholls-trained duo of What A Friend, part-owned by Sir Alex Ferguson and winner of this race in 2010, plus Silviniaco Conti, who was successful in the Grade One Betfair Chase at Haydock Park in November and was still travelling well within himself when falling three fences from home in the Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup on March 15. There are three possible representatives from Ireland – Grade One Ryanair Chase runner-up First Lieutenant (Mouse Morris), Quito De La Roque (Colm Murphy) and Whodoyouthink, who is from the stable of Oliver McKiernan – successful 12 months ago with Follow The Plan.

The four and fifth from this year’s Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup, The Giant Bolster and Cape Tribulation, could also line up. CapeTribulation won over hurdles at both the Cheltenham Festival and the John Smith’s Grand National meeting in 2012 and his trainer Malcolm Jefferson reports the nine-year-old on track for the Betfred Bowl.

Jeffferson said today: “We entered CapeTribulation this morning and the plan is to go to the Betfred Bowl.

“I thought he had a hardish race at Cheltenham but he has come back out of it and has really perked up again. He looks tremendously well now.

“I think he goes on all ground although the only thing I would say is that the two races he won last year at Cheltenham and Aintree were on good ground.

“I am not quite sure what happened in the Gold Cup last time. They didn’t go very quick early on and coming down the hill I thought we were going to be beaten a long way and by the time they crossed the line he wasn’t beaten that far. He stayed on up the hill.”

Grand Opening Day gets underway at 2.00pm with the £100,000 Matalan Anniversary 4-Y-O Juvenile Hurdle (2.00pm, two miles and 110 yards) for which 16 entries have been received. These include the Gordon Elliott-trained Flaxen Flare, who was successful in the Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival and the Paul Nicholls-trained Irish Saint, winner of the Grade Two Adonis Juvenile Hurdle at KemptonPark in February.

Further Grade One action comes courtesy of the £75,000 Betfred Manifesto Novices’ Chase (4.50pm, two and a half miles) which has attracted 23 hopefuls. Among these are Benefficient, trained in Ireland by Tony Martin and triumphant in the Grade Two Jewson Novices’ Chase at the Cheltenham Festival as well as the second and third from that race – Dynaste (David Pipe) and Changing Times (Nigel Twiston-Davies). Nicky Henderson has four possible starters, include Rajdhani Express, another winner from the Cheltenham Festival having landed the Rewards4Racing Novices’ Handicap Chase.

The fourth Grade One contest on Grand Opening Day, the £200,000 Grade One John Smith’s Aintree Hurdle (3.05pm, two and a half miles) has been re-opened until 11.00am tomorrow.

In the John Smith’s Fox Hunters Chase (3.40pm, extended two miles and five furlongs) over the Grand National there are 27 possible confirmations including last year’s victor Cloudy Lane from the stable of Donald McCain as well as the 2010 scorer Silver Adonis (Marilyn Scudamore).

Highly-competitive handicap action comes courtesy of the £80,000 matalan.co.uk Red Rum Handicap Chase (4.15pm, two miles) which has 33 entries and the concluding Silver Cross Handicap Hurdle (5.25pm, extended three miles) where there 62 entries.

GOING

The going at Aintree is currently:

Grand National Course – Good to Soft

Mildmay Course – Good, Good to Soft in places

Hurdle Course – Good to Soft, Good in places

The forecast for over the weekend and into next week is mainly dry but remaining cold with an easterly wind and some sunny spells. Temperatures should be in the region +8/9C in the daytime and 2C overnight.

Andrew Tulloch, Regional Head of Racing NW and Clerk of the Course at Aintree, said: “It has been a drying week at Aintree and the current forecast is for dry conditions to continue into next week.

“It remains colder than would be expected at this time of year, with temperatures around four or five degrees lower than the seasonal average.”

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