Ladies Day of Aintree’s Grand National meeting is one of the most popular days in the racing calendar and features top class Grade One jumps action, with the best horses from the UK and Ireland battling it out on the Merseyside track.
There were some scintillating performances on day one particularly Apples Jade who won the Juvenile Hurdle by a staggering 41-lengths. While Cue Card gained some compensation for his Cheltenham Gold Cup fall with a superb win in the Betfred Bowl.
— The Jockey Club (@TheJockeyClub) 7 April 2016
Here is our preview of the big race action on day two of the Grand National Festival.
2.15pm – Top Novices´ Hurdle (Grade 1)
The first Grade One race of the afternoon is the Top Novices’ Hurdle and is headed by Cheltenham Festival winner Limini.
The Willie Mullins mare won the inaugural running of the Dawn Run Mares Novices’ Hurdle at The Festival in impressive fashion and takes on the boys for the first time here. Her 7lb mares allowance will be a huge plus and she is highly regarded within the Mullins yard, she has a massive chance.
Limini’s main rival seems to be the Nicky Henderson trained Buveur D´Air, who was third in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle. That race was won in impressive fashion by the five-year-old’s stablemate Altior, but he made eye-catching progress late in the race and this flatter track with softer ground should really suit.
Agrapart was an impressive winner of Newbury’s Betfair Hurdle in February and has been kept fresh with this race in mind. The 11-length success looks even better with the form being franked by the likes of Flying Angel who went on to win The Imperial Cup. The soft ground will really suit and he could be over-priced at 9-1.
Gordon Elliot runs Grade Two winning hurdler Ball D’Arc who skipped Cheltenham with this race in mind. The five-year-old has improved with every run this season, winning both starts after finishing third to Min. Could have a good each-way chance.
Verdict: Limini is a fascinating contender stepping out of mares’ company for the first time. While Buveur D’Air ran with great credit at Cheltenham, but Agrapart looks to have been saved for this race and has some great form in the book and could run a big race.
2.50pm – Betfred Mildmay Novices’ Chase (Grade One)
This race features three Cheltenham Festival heroes and is set to be one of the finest races of the Grand National meeting.
Blaklion took the Grade One RSA Chase in March and sets the standard in this race. After a shaky start to his chasing career he has developed into the best staying chaser in Britain. The Nigel-Twiston Davies yard is in superb form and he is the leading player.
David Pipe saddles Un Temps Pour Touts who also tasted success at Cheltenham when taking the three-mile handicap chase on the opening day. That performance was a dramatic improvement on his previous efforts and if he can improve again he will go close.
Ballyalton is the third Festival winner to line up and makes the step up in trip after winning over two-and-a-half miles last time. He improved immeasurably at Cheltenham but will need another step up to win this.
Verdict: This is a really good renewal, with three Festival heroes set to line-up. Un Temps Pour Touts and Ballyalton are stepping out of handicap company after impressive wins. But Blaklion is one of the toughest horses in training and if Cheltenham hasn’t taken its toll he will be hard to pass.
3.20pm – JLT Melling Chase (Grade One)
Six declared runners for the £200k Grade 1 JLT Melling Steeple Chase on Ladies Day pic.twitter.com/rJoFPPf3tU
— Aintree Racecourse (@AintreeRaces) 6 April 2016
The final Grade One event on Grand National Ladies Day is the Melling Chase run over two-miles-and-three-furlongs.
The headline attraction of the day is without doubt the electrifying Vautour, for the all-conquering Willie Mullins and Rich Ricci combination. He registered his third consecutive Cheltenham Festival win in March, destroying his rivals in the Ryanair Chase. His phenomenal jumping and strong gallop make him a cut above the rest of his rivals. One of the best jumps horses in training.
Al Ferof was fourth to Vautour in the Ryanair and was also behind him in the King George, a place is probably all he can hope for at 11 years of age.
Gods Own is a thoroughly consistent performer who has been running in the hottest races, a step up in trip and softer ground should suit and he could be the one to chase home the favourite.
Verdict: Races don’t really come any simpler. Vautour is head and shoulders above these rivals and will barely have to get out of third gear to win.
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