Welcome to our coverage of day one of the 2021 Grand National Festival at Aintree. There are some big names on show today, including dual Champion Hurdle winner Buveur D’Air and 2018 Gold Cup champ Native River – but the star attraction is undoubtedly two-time Grand National hero Tiger Roll.
Unfortunately for racing fans he won’t be going for a tilt at an historic third National title on Saturday, instead taking on the Betway Bowl at 2.50pm today – but it is always a joy to see the living legend in action.
Tiger Roll comes into today’s race after an outstanding fifth Cheltenham Festival triumph, in the Cross Country Chase, which cemented his status as the most popular horse in training.
He added: “The regret at Tiger Roll’s National omission is perfectly simple. It is that we have been denied the chance of watching an icon become an immortal.”
Gigginstown Stud race manager Eddie O’Leary has played down Tiger Roll’s chances of success in the Betway Bowl, saying he has “no chance whatsoever” of winning – making the decision to swerve the National seem even more difficult to understand.
Kevin Blake made his thoughts clear on ITV Racing’s Opening Show this morning, saying it was “a shame” the horse is running today rather than Saturday – and there’s no doubt most racing fans will feel the same.
Native River also goes in the Betway Bowl, with Clan Des Obeaux the current favourite at 5/2 for that race.
Buveur D’Air has not been the force of old in recent times, and faces an uphill battle against 10 rivals including Abacadabras and Brewin’upastorm in the Aintree Hurdle at 3.25pm.
There are seven races on today’s card – including four Grade Ones – with the first race off at 1.45pm. The going is currently good to soft.
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