The Thursday of the Aintree Grand National Festival is one of the best days of National Hunt racing outside of the Cheltenham Festival.

We start with no fewer than four Grade 1 contests, including the Betway Bowl and Betway Aintree Hurdle.

Here are my best picks from a high-quality racecard...


13.45 – Novices’ Chase

CYRNAME  deliberately missed Cheltenham, with trainer Paul Nicholls targeting this race from a long way out.

He is proven at the distance and on a form line through Terrefort, certainly has the class to win this.

There are also question marks regarding his rivals at the head of the market.

Brain Power  has twice failed to complete this season and is stepping up in trip here. Finian’s Oscar  has issues with his jumping and needs a perfect round to trouble the other two, which is not guaranteed.

Rene’s Girl  is interesting with the weight allowance, but this race is tougher than any she has contested so far.

Take the favourite to get off to a winning start.

13.45 Aintree: Cyrname
{{::outcome.FormattedDecimal}} {{::outcome.Numerator}}/{{::outcome.Denominator}} 9/4

14.20 – Juvenile Hurdle

Apple’s Shakira  was a really disappointing favourite in the Triumph at Cheltenham, who was restless in the preliminaries and then didn’t settle on the track.

Can she be trusted on another big occasion at such a short price?

Stablemate We Have A Dream   will also be vying for favouritism, but I’d rather play each-way to take them both on.

LES ARCEAUX  might be worth chancing with a small each-way bet.

He skipped Cheltenham, but horses he had been running well against went on to frank the form at Prestbury Park.

He could run into a place at a very nice price with a bit of improvement, which isn’t out of the question.

14.20 Aintree: Les Arceaux
{{::outcome.FormattedDecimal}} {{::outcome.Numerator}}/{{::outcome.Denominator}} 33/1

14.50 – Betway Bowl

Might Bite  is a worthy favourite and could go on to win at this meeting for the second year running.

The question mark is if his runner-up effort in the Gold Cup took anything out of him, which is a question some won’t be prepared to ask at an odds-on price.

With that in mind, I’d rather play each-way and avoid the conundrum.

SUB LIEUTENANT  has contested a number of very good races down the years without ever getting his head in front when it matters most.

He could have the race to suit today and run into a place at a nice price.

14.50 Aintree: Sub Lieutenant
{{::outcome.FormattedDecimal}} {{::outcome.Numerator}}/{{::outcome.Denominator}} 25/1

15.25 – Betway Aintree Hurdle

Supasundae drops back in trip after a fantastic effort in the Stayers’ at Cheltenham. He will be a very popular favourite for this race.

My Tent Or Yours  would be a value call to place in the race, having done so in the last two runnings.

But I like the look of CYRUS DARIUS  each-way.

He has decent hurdles form, particularly at this course, and could surprise a few on his second run back since his return to the small obstacles.

15.25 Aintree: Cyrus Darius
{{::outcome.FormattedDecimal}} {{::outcome.Numerator}}/{{::outcome.Denominator}} 12/1

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