Simon Holt previews the feature acition from day one of the Randox Health Grand National Meeting.
THE Randox Health Grand National meeting begins on Thursday with a fascinating re-match between last month's Cheltenham Gold Cup third and fifth Bristol De Mai and Clan Des Obeaux in the Grade One Betway Bowl Chase.
Considering that Bristol De Mai has finished in front of King George winner Clan Des Obeaux on their last three completed meetings, including when chasing home Might Bite in this race last year, it is surprising that he is only third in the betting.
His fine run behind Al Boum Photo with Clan Des Obeaux running out of steam in the closing stages, would again appear to give him the edge though he is not always predictable and both must have had hard races in what was a fast run renewal.
One who bypassed the Gold Cup this year was ROAD TO RESPECT who raced like a non-stayer when fourth to Native River last season, and Noel Meade's gelding ran a good race behind Frodon and Aso in the Ryanair Chase this time.
Road To Respect had looked a little unfortunate when narrowly touched off by Bellshill previously in the Irish Gold Cup having earlier stumbled badly at a crucial stage behind Kemboy in the Savills Chase over Christmas.
It could be that this flat three miles and a furlong will suit him well.
The latter event was a slowly-run affair in which Kemboy sprinted clear of his rivals and he then had little daylight when departing at the first fence in the Gold Cup. Hitherto, he had looked strongly progressive over fences but his jumping can sometimes leave a little to be desired.
Earlier, a chance is taken on SONG FOR SOMEONE out-running his odds in the Grade One Doom Bar Anniversary 4yo Juvenile Hurdle.
The son of Medicean has a tough task on ratings but his front-running style and fast jumping look made for Aintree and, while the Cheltenham winners Band Of Outlaws and Pentland Hills have powerful credentials, this meeting comes soon enough this year after last month's festivities.
Another fresh horse is DIEGO DU CHARMIL who bids to follow up his Grade One victory at this meeting last year in the Close Brothers Red Rum Handicap Chase.
The seven-year-old has faced impossible tasks against Altior on his last two starts but wasn’t disgraced when having Special Tiara behind him at Kempton over Christmas.
Although top-weighted here, conditions look ideal and Harry Cobden takes the mount.
Posted at 1420BST on 03/04/2019