Who To Follow On Day One Of The Aintree Grand National Festival

James Mackie | @JMackieRacing

Aintree - April 12 2023
Aintree 13:55
Harry Cobden


J: Harry Cobden
T: Paul Nicholls
Age: 8
Weight: 11-10
OR: 172
Days: 27

The feature race of the afternoon at Aintree on day one of the festival is the Grade One Aintree Bowl over 3m1f and Bravemansgame is the horse they all have to beat.

Bravemansgame has looked a completely different horse this season, a more rounded and professional version of himself that can now be counted as one of the leading staying chasers in the sport at the moment.

Always showing bits of superb form throughout his career over hurdles but more so over fences, this term he has put it all together landing the Grade Two Charlie Hall Chase on seasonal debut before going to Kempton on Boxing Day and showing that he truly finishes out his races now when beating L’Homme Presse comfortably after the last.

Not seen since then until the Cheltenham Gold Cup, there were still question marks whether he would handle the step up in trip and the track, but he ran an absolute screamer jumping the best in the field and just up the hill was beaten by the superstar Galopin Des Champs.

There is no Galopin Des Champs in this field and although Conflated ran a cracker in the Gold Cup, A Plus Tard looked to be back somewhere near his best before hitting some bad luck and Shishkin at the top of the market will certainly appreciate the step up in trip.

For us Bravemansgame this season has shown by far the best solid form over this staying trip and although Aintree has not been a happy hunting ground for him over the years, this term he looks a different animal and where he has came here and underperformed, we think he can show the same form he has all season.


Trainer To Follow - Paul Nicholls

Paul Nicholls had a good Cheltenham festival and he will be looking to do the same at Aintree and on the first day of the Grand National meeting he has some smart chances.

In the opening event of the afternoon Stage Star is the favourite in the Manifesto Novices' Chase with the seven year old landing the Grade One Turners Novices' Chase last time out.

Nicholls then runs Gold Cup second Bravemansgame in the Aintree Bowl with the Grade One winner having the least to prove in the field.

The 13 time champion trainer finishes off the afternoon with the very exciting mare Seeyouinmydreams in the Grade Two bumper with this five year old having the potential to be anything.

Nicholls heads into the three day meeting in sparkling form currently running at a strike rate of 32% for the last two weeks, managing to land seven winners from 22 runners.

Jockey To Follow - Rachael Blackmore

The poster girl for racing, exceptional rider Rachael Blackmore heads back to Aintree which has been a happy hunting ground for her in the past and on Thursday has some nice chances.

Blackmore's first big ride of the afternoon comes in the Aintree Bowl on 2022 Gold Cup winner A Plus Tard who was unlucky on his return at Cheltenham last time out and getting a clearer run he could go close.

The riders next mount comes on Dancing On My Own in the Grade Three Red Rum Handicap Chase and having finished second in the event last term he could go well from the front again.

Finally, Blackmore rides in the Grade Two Mares bumper for new recruit to the Henry De Bromhead yard July Flower who should love the soft conditions.