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The42′s Winning Post: Everything you need to enjoy day one of Aintree - and pick a winner

All eyes on Merseyside as the Grand National festival kicks off with a bang.

Annie Power ridden by Ruby Walsh on the way to winning the Stan James Champion Hurdle Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Three big talking points

1. Annie Other Business? Twelve months on from the nightmare fall that spared the bookies and cost punters millions, Annie Power was a most welcome winner of the Champion Hurdle last month and convincingly put to bed the concerns about her speed over the shorter trip and her class in a field of boys.

The line-up for the Doom Bar Aintree Hurdle (3.25pm) is a small one with just six runners declared, and a host of the same challengers reoppose. Stablemate Nichols Canyon is the most obvious threat, having twice won Grade 1s over 2m4f, while it will be interesting to see if My Tent Or Yours can replicate the form that saw him chase home in the Champion Hurdle.

The New One, well backed at Cheltenham, has the most obvious opportunity to improve — but would that even be enough?

Don Poli on the gallops Don Poli on the gallops at Willie Mullins' yard. Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

2. Is Cue Card too short? There are plenty of superstitious punters out there who will tell you that it’s a risk to back a horse on its first run following a fall, but that hasn’t stopped Cue Card from being hammered in to odds of 11/10f for the Betfred Bowl (2.50pm). He was travelling very impressively under Paddy Brennan in the Gold Cup before crashing down three out and much here will depend on how he has recovered from that fall.

Djakadam was driven all the way in second behind Don Cossack that day, and the expectation is that third-placed Don Poli arrives to this as the fresher of the Willie Mullins runners.

Saphir du Rheu won the three-mile novice chase here last year, but this is a whole different ball game and maybe Gold Cup fifth Irish Cavalier has the best chance of snaffling place money at bigger odds.

Ivanovich Gorbatov ridden by Barry Geraghty wins the race Ivanovich Gorbatov, far side, and Apple's Jade go head-to-head again today. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

3. Will the ground turn against Ivan? Joseph O’Brien is still waiting on his trainer’s licence but that didn’t stop him from having Ivanovich Gorbatov foot perfect for the Triumph Hurdle.

With the ground already easing and rain forecast, his disappointing run in Leopardstown in February is a concern and Footpad — who beat him that day before finishing third at Cheltenham — and Triumph second Apple’s Jade — who gets a seven-pound allowance — are interesting alternatives.

Festival winner Diego du Charmil looks to be the best of the rest.

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Nap of the Day

Don Poli won over course and distance here in December on soft and had a (marginally) easier day than Cue Card and Djakadam in the Gold Cup. Best price odds of 11/2 at the time of writing are more than tempting.

An each-way fancy

The bookies are only paying two places in the Hurdle, so there’s not as much value as there might otherwise have been in The New One at 10/1. Shattered Love (11/1) could go well in the Mares’ Bumper for Gordon Elliot and Gigginstown.

Accumulator

Backing against all three Grade 1 favourites with a treble of Apple’s Jade, Don Poli and Nichols Canyon is ambitious to say the least. It pays €155 for a euro if it comes in though.

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Niall Kelly

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