476 views | Francis Azuka | April 9, 2021
There would have been smiles on the faces of National Hunt racing fans up and down the country yesterday when the Grand National Festival returned to the iconic Aintree Racecourse in Merseyside after being cancelled last year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Of course, whilst racing is still taking place behind closed doors, sport can still provide fans with a much-needed break from reality and day one of the meeting certainly did just that with four Grade 1 races setting the tone nicely for the upcoming Ladies’ Day and Grand National, which Cloth Cap is the favourite to win if you’re looking for a bet on the Grand National 2021.
The online sports betting sites would have been bustling with punters checking out the odds for all the big races on the opening day, and it certainly wasn’t a bad curtain raiser for the bettors with a fair few short-priced horses romping over the line in first. So, without further ado, let’s recap the day’s biggest races.
1:45: Manifesto Novices’ Chase (Grade 1)
The opening day kicked off with the Grade 1 Manifesto Novice’s Chase, which was run over two miles and four furlongs. With a lack of Irish horses at the meeting, The Shunter, who was the 7/2 favourite, was expected to land a rare victory for those from the Emerald Isle. However, the Skelton brothers (trainer Harry and jockey Dan) had other ideas as Sir Alex Ferguson-owned Protektorat(17/2) raced home over three lengths clear of the favourite.
2nd: The Shunter (7/2)
3rd: Hitman (10/3)
2:20: 4-Y-O Juvenile Hurdle (Grade 1)
The red, white and blue silks of Ferguson and his co-owners were back in the Aintree winners’ enclosure in the next race as well. However, this time, it was with the favourite –Monmiral. The Paul Nicholls-trained horse set off as the 10/11 market leader and there was no stopping the four-year-old and jockey Harry Cobden as they went on to win by over seven lengths. And, they weren’t done yet…
2nd: Adagio (13/8)
3:30: The Bowl Chase (Grade 1)
Up next was the day one feature race, the Bowl Chase, and Ferguson would have been having flashbacks of 1999 as yet another historic treble played out in front of his eyes. However, this time Cobden was the man to thank and not current Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjær. Clan Des Obeaux, who missed last month’s Cheltenham Festival to focus purely on the Bowl, was the 5/2 favourite and he duly delivered. In fact, there was a massive 26 lengths between him and Clondaw Castle in second.
“That’s the best day I’ve had in my time in racing, which is about 20 years or so,” Ferguson said after landing the 62/1 treble. “It is different to when I was managing my football teams – I was in control of what was going to happen on the pitch, but I’m not in control of that (on the racetrack) as the trainer does all of that and as an owner you hope it goes well.”
1st: Clan Des Obeaux(5/2)
2nd: Clondaw Castle (13/2)
3rd: Native River (4/1)
3:25: Aintree Hurdle (Grade 1)
With two-time National winner Tiger Roll failing to make an impact on his return to Aintree in the Bowl, the Giggingstown House Stud owners would have been glad to see Abacadabrasland them a winner in the proceeding Aintree Hurdle. Favourite Jason The Militant was in the lead when he unseated his rider five out and allowed Abacadabras(5/1), who had already done well to get into contention after racing towards the rear for much of the race, into the mix. He led two out and despite a mistake at the last, jockey Jack Kennedy was able to kick him on and secure the victory by just over a length.
2nd: Buzz (22/1)
3rd: Millers Bank (80/1)
66/1 outsider Cousin Pascal caused an upset in the Foxhunters’ Open Hunters Chase before Editeur Du Gite(9/1) and Me Too Please (14/1) landed victories in the Red Rum Handicap Chase and the Mares’ Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race respectively.