TV TIPS (THURSDAY) – AINTREE FESTIVAL DAY 1

14:20 Aintree Defi Du Seuil has to be the selection given the relative ease in which he cut through a comprehensive field when winning the Triumph Hurdle back at Cheltenham last month. A comfortable five length win was the margin of victory in his last race and connections will be hoping for something similar here this afternoon. Barry Geraghty returns to the saddle and having missed out on this plum ride during the Festival last month, he will be itching to get back on this Philip Hobbs trained four year old. There are potential improvers in the field and the Fred Winter winner and runner up re-engage in opposition here. Flying Tiger got up in the shadows of the post when denying Divin Bere last time but they will both need to take another step forward to trouble Defi Du Seuil. Forth Bridge has taken really well to hurdling and has won his last two starts for the Queen and Charlie Longsdon. Having missed the Festival in order to come here, a big run cannot be ruled out. DEFI DU SEUIL (WIN)

14:50 Aintree This lacks real strength in depth for such a prestigous race and the numerical turnout is very disappointing given the prize on offer. Cue Card bolted up in last seasons renewal having arrived on the back of a fall at the Cheltenham Festival in the Gold Cup, twelve months on and he once again comes here on the back of a fall from the same venue but this is a much easier renewal. Colin Tizzard’s star 11 year old wouldnt have to be at his absolute best to take this so providing he jumps sound enough, taking him on seems pointless. Empire Of Dirt has some decent Irish form but his fourth in the Ryanair was pretty disappointing given how well talked of he had been prior, he looks certain to appreciate this stiffer test of stamina but he lacks the class of the favourite and is too short in the betting. Bristol De Mai is another who hasnt the class of the favourite though this track ought to play to his strengths, the ground would be his concern however and he must jump better. Aso and Smad Place are others to mention but both would be dissapointing winners so perhaps old timer Silviniaco Conti is the biggest danger to Cue Card as he arrives here freshest having missed the Festival. CUE CARD (WIN)

15:25 Aintree Buveur D’Air looked a class act when running away with the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham just last month when comfortably seeing off the attentions of his stablemate My Tent Or Yours. The further he went, the better he looked and this extra half mile and flatter track are unlikely to inconvenience the Nicky Henderson trained six year old. Attempting to follow in the footsteps of Annie Power last year by taking the Cheltenham crown and then this prize he will be partnered by Barry Geraghty who will be aiming to give JP McManus another big race win. The New One has been well placed to win two races this season and he won at this meeting a couple of years ago. He was thrashed almost a dozen lengths by the selection in their previous meeting and will find it difficult to reverse that form here. Identity Thief is on somewhat of a recovery mission having fluffed his lines at Leopardstown last time. If fully over those exertions, a better performance can be expected. My Tent Or Yours will most likely cause the chief threat to his stablemate yet again though. Lightly campaigned this year, he will love the better ground and is taken for the forecast. BUVEUR D’AIR (WIN)

16:05 Aintree Big Fella Thanks loves to rise to the occasion and despite being fifteen years of age he is still very much in rude health. He has not finished outside of the first two places in his last five starts and despite being sent off at a short price last time in a small field that was his first run back for the year and he clearly needed it. With a run under his belt and being sparingly campaigned this time around, it would be of little surprise to see a bold effort here. He has been to this track plenty of times in the past but Tom George seems to be getting the best from him and having missed Cheltenham, he comes here a fresh horse. Balnaslow tried in vain to make all at Prestbury Park in the Foxhunters last month but fatigue set in when he met the stiff uphill finish. He went backwards at that point but now back on a flatter track he may well prove even more dangerous. On The Fringe was a bitter disappointment at Cheltenham last time and backers will be hoping for a much better effort in the saddle from Derek O’Connor. The jockey left it far too late to challenge those who got first run on him. Pacha Du Polder looked to have a hard race when seeing off his rivals in that same race. Briony Frost is once again in the saddle and if fully fit the duo will be hard to keep out of the frame. BIG FELLA THNKS (E/W) BALNASLOW (E/W)

16:40 Aintree Deciphering this will take some effort though there are plenty of pace angles and the safest option appears to last seasons second and Grand Annual fourth, Dandridge.Often well backed for similar contests he rather struggles to get his head in front but the pressence of multiple front runners here has to be seen as a postivie and he is taken to reverse Cheltenham form with the re-opposing Theinval. Theinval himself is as tough as old boots and rarely runs a bad race nowadays, his fine Cheltenham effort wouldnt need much improving on to land this but his mark makes life tougher today. Double Wshas improved all season and is best forgiven his festival effort as he didnt appear to stay, this track will suit him fine but he wont get an easy time up front. Parnsip Pete warrants respect and is something of a course specialist, despite this looking fairly deep he deserves respect at the odds. Raven’s Tower is on a good mark and from a yard who know how to place one, he is quite probably the best handicapped horse in the race but his recent form needs improving on. Alisier D’irlande hacked up in a Grade3 last time and must go close if repeating that here, his welter burden is less of a worry than the pressence of the other front-runners however. DANDRIDGE (E/W if 9/2+)

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