Paul Nicholls with Clan des Obeaux

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Nick Robson reckons Clan Des Obeaux can reign in the Betway Bowl as Aintree's Grand National Festival kicks off.

Nick Robson's selections

AINTREE: 1.45 Hitman, 2.20 Monmiral, 2.50 Clan Des Obeaux, 3.25 Song For Someone, 4.05 Cat Tiger, 4.40 Destrier, 5.15 EILEENDOVER (NAP).

CHELMSFORD: 4.50 Trepidation, 5.20 Velvet Vista, 5.50 Critique, 6.20 Byzantia, 6.50 Zahirah, 7.20 Chiave Di Volta, 7.50 The Nosey Parker.

GOWRAN: 4.00 Create Belief, 4.35 Roman Empire, 5.05 Thunder Rain, 5.35 Grid, 6.05 Ottawa Fire, 6.35 Falcon Eight, 7.05 Indignation, 7.35 Colonel Lesley.

SOUTHWELL: 1.00 True Hero, 1.35 Blue Cable, 2.10 Thunderclap, 2.40 May Night, 3.15 Little Boy Blue, 3.50 Silver Shade, 4.25 Dodgy Bob.

TAUNTON: 1.25 Tulin, 2.00 Grooveur, 2.30 San Agustin, 3.05 Theocrat, 3.40 Umndeni, 4.15 Arcade Attraction, 4.55 Minella Voucher, 5.30 Toutatis.

DOUBLE: Eileendover and Clan Des Obeaux

Sky Bet paying Extra Places on the Aintree feature

Good-ground horses are sure to be to the fore at Aintree during the ongoing dry spell – and top of the list on day one of the Grand National meeting is Clan Des Obeaux in the Betway Bowl.

Paul Nicholls’ charge missed the Gold Cup after connections admitted that trip at Cheltenham does not suit him, having failed to get up the hill the previous year, and they can reap their rewards.

He has had just three runs this season – initially in the Betfair Chase at Haydock, where testing ground would have been against him but he still made Bristol De Mai pull out all the stops.

Arguably he was still feeling the effects of that big run when aiming to add his name to an elite list of three-time King George winners on Boxing Day. Having won the last two, this time he was no match for stablemate Frodon.

You would have to say Clan Des Obeaux did not run to form last time when slightly disappointing at Newbury behind Secret Investor, giving him 6lb.

That winner is smart on his day when conditions are in his favour, though, and Clan Des Obeaux should be too classy for Tiger Roll and the rest here.

In the same colours, Hitman can give Nicholls a Grade One double in the SSS Super Alloys Manifesto Novices’ Chase.

Only five, he showed he had a very bright future when beaten just over two lengths by Allmankind in a Grade One at Sandown before Christmas.

He unfortunately fell in the Scilly Isles when stepped up in trip, but won like his odds suggested he should do last time out at Newbury – which crucially showed he could handle a faster surface, too.

It could cap an outstanding day for Nicholls and the ownership of Ged Mason and Sir Alex Ferguson if Monmiral retains his unbeaten record in the Doom Bar Anniversary 4-Y-O Juvenile Hurdle.

The worry about about him is that none of his form has really worked out, despite how impressive he has been – but in the absence of Triumph Hurdle disappointment Tritonic, Monmiral may well measure up against Cheltenham runner-up Adagio.

The decision to bypass the Champion Hurdle can pay off for Song For Someone in the Betway Aintree Hurdle.

Tom Symonds blamed his defeat to Goshen at Wincanton on the very gluey ground that day – but he will not be able to use that excuse this time.

If anything Song For Someone had also looked better over further than two miles until he won the International at Cheltenham in December – and in his previous run, he looked very good at Ascot. The long straight here should be right up his street.

Destrier is very interesting in the Close Brothers Red Rum Handicap Chase.

A very smart novice two years ago when third in a Grade One at this meeting, the key to him is good ground – which he has never had since.

However, as a result he has tumbled down the weights – and the likelihood is that this has been in Dan Skelton’s sights for some time.

The best bet of the day runs in the closing Goffs UK Nickel Coin Mares’ Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race, in the shape of Pam Sly’s Eileendover.

Ultra-impressive in a Listed event at Market Rasen, form which has been boosted since, she arrives here fresh – and Sly is already targeting nice prizes on the Flat.

Byzantia can win for Charlie Fellowes, in the Golden Horn colours of Anthony Oppenheimer, in the CCR Fillies Handicap at Chelmsford – given how well she won her last start for John Gosden.

More on the 2021 Grand National

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