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Aintree Betway Bowl tips - Ellison's 8/1 chance can enjoy Red letter day in Aintree feature

Brian Healy takes a runner-by-runner look ahead to today's Grade One Aintree Bowl, the feature race on the opening day of the Aintree Grand National Festival.

The Grade One Aintree Bowl is the feature race of the first day of the 2018 Aintree Grand National Festival, and a classy renewal of this three mile contest will go to post at 2.50pm as the third race on the card at the Liverpool venue.

Some top-class performers have won this race down through the years, including Our Vic, dual-winner Silviniaco Conti and Cue Card in recent years, and boasting a first prize in excess of £100,000 there is sure to be an other strong field of runners going to post.

Tea For Two (14/1, BetVictor) won this race twelve months ago, beating Cue Card in a thrilling finish; Nick Williams’ charge arrives in only moderate form having finished seventh in the Gold Cup when last seen.

The Kayf Tara gelding hasn’t won since that success in this race twelve months ago, and he has already come up short behind several potential rivals in this contest.

Finishing third behind Might Bite in the King George VI Chase has been his best effort of the campaign, and he could run well back at the scene of his last victory.

Tea For Two won the race twelve months ago.
Double Shuffle (12/1, Boylesport) finished one place ahead of Nick Williams’ charge at Kempton, posting a career-best effort to be beaten just one length behind Might Bite.

The Milan gelding had finished runner-up in each of his two previous starts also at Chepstow and Ascot over shorter distances; but he looked to take well to three miles, and he had won over the trip previously at Kempton when beating Go Conquer.

While still unexposed over this trip, the form of the Tom George yard is worrying, and the yard haven’t had a winner since Summerville Boy’s Cheltenham Festival success last month. He may just find one too strong again.

Native River aside, Might Bite (4/6, Unibet) never saw another rival in the Gold Cup, as the pair took each other on from the front for the entirety of the race.

Nicky Henderson’s charge just couldn’t quite match the gutsy effort of Colin Tizzard’s charge, but he crossed the line with four lengths to spare and the Scorpion gelding will be hard to beat here if none the worse for those exertions.

The quirky sort beat Whisper at this meeting twelve months ago, showing none of the behaviour that he had displayed in the RSA Chase the time before where he almost threw away certain victory.

He has gone from strength to strength since, scoring at Sandown with a defeat of Frodon prior to his King George VI Chase win at Kempton; while he lost nothing in defeat last time, just outstayed by the Tizzard horse up the hill.

Better ground and this flatter track ought to see him get back to winning ways if those Cheltenham exertions haven’t taken a toll; he had a hard race, and it is possible that his battle with Native River took something out of him.

Could Might Bite's titanic battle with Native River in the Gold Cup have an effect on the Scorpion gelding?
DEFINITLY RED (8/1, William Hill, each-way) could only finish sixth in the Gold Cup, but Brian Ellison’s charge could be worth chancing to bounce back, and the Definite Article gelding can get amongst the places to reward each-way backers.

A progressive sort last term, winning three times which included the Grimthorpe Chase, the Ellison charge found the Grand National too much of a test on his final outing of last season.

Having finished third to Bristol De Mai on his return in the Charlie Hall Chase, he posted back-to-back wins at this venue and and Cheltenham, and his Gold Cup run was better than the bare result although like most he never threatened to get seriously involved.

Underfoot conditions should prove no issue providing the ground doesn’t dry out significantly, and it isn’t hard to see him running a big race.

Cloudy Dream (20/1, Ladbrokes) has been running well in defeat, finishing third in the Ryanair Chase at the Cheltenham Festival having chased home Native River in the Denman Chase previously.

Ruth Jefferson’s charge however doesn’t appear the heartiest of battlers, often finding less than expected off the bridle; he has finished runner-up on all three starts at this venue, but he appears best at shorter distances and this three miles plus trip is likely to stretch him.

Bristol De Mai (6/1, BetVictor) meanwhile disappointed in this race twelve months ago, finishing fifth to Tea For Two, and his form has stalled following two top-class wins at Wetherby and Haydock where he sluiced through the mud to land the Betfair Chase.

Subsequently sixth to Might Bite in the King George VI Chase, he disappointed when beaten ten lengths by Definitely Red at Cheltenham in the Cotswold Chase; he turns out here following wind surgery, but with drying ground conditions going against him he could find a couple too strong.

Bristol De Mai returns to action following a wind operation, but the Aintree ground may prove too lively for Nigel Twiston-Davies' charge.
Henry de Bromhead’s Balko Des Flos (13/2, Paddy Power) lowered the colours of Un De Sceaux in the Ryanair Chase during the Cheltenham Festival, and the Balko gelding can go well again although he is yet to win beyond three miles.

The 2017 Galway Plate winner found only Road To Respect too strong on his last attempt at three miles in the Christmas Chase at Leopardstown, and drying ground is no problem for the Irish raider.

However, he perhaps didn’t quite get home in the softer ground at Leopardstown in that contest, and with these drying conditions no issue he can post another big run.

Sub Lieutenant (33/1, Boylesport) finished fourth in the Ryanair Chase behind his stablemate, having earlier finished third to 2017 Gold Cup hero Sizing John at Punchestown.

The Brian Boru gelding hasn’t won since scoring at Downroyal back when winning the 2016 Belfast Chase, and he’ll do well to reverse form with his stablemate with whom he shares a commonality in that neither has won over three miles.

Clan Des Obeaux (16/1, BetVictor) will need to step up on his form to date this season, where he won at Haydock back in November prior to finishing runner-up behind Guitar Pete in the Caspian Caviar Gold Cup.

That form isn’t good enough to win a race of this calibre, and the Kapgarde gelding will need to pull out more if he is to land the spoils here.

Shantou Flyer (66/1, Paddy Power) is a solid handicapper around Cheltenham when the mud is flying, but the conditions of the race here will be wholly different to those he experienced when finding only Coo Star Sivola too strong at Cheltenham last time.

Aintree conditions won't be ideal for Shantou Flyer who will face a tough assignment.
Richard Hobson’s charge has struggled at this level in the past, and the Shantou gelding is likely to do so again; while Sizing Codelco (100/1, Ladbrokes) has failed to complete in three of his last four starts, and Colin Tizzard’s charge is difficult to fancy.

While he did win a Listed chase at this meeting twelve months ago, the Flemensfirth gelding has disappointed since, and a wind operation did little to change his fortunes when pulled up behind Coo Star Sivola and Shantou Flyer in the Ultima Handicap Chase at the Cheltenham Festival.

He’ll need significantly more to feature, but it is hard to envisage him being good enough to win this.


Might Bite ought to win this if none the worse for his Cheltenham Festival exertions where he went toe-to-toe with Native River for the duration of the race; DEFINITLY RED (8/1, William Hill, each-way) finished sixth in the Gold Cup, and Brian Ellison’s charge can better that finish here, having won at this venue previously when beating Cloudy Dream.

While the drying ground isn’t ideal for the Definite Article gelding, he does have form on these conditions and so long as the ground doesn’t dry out significantly then he ought to be fine with regards to the underfoot conditions.

His earlier defeat of American to land the Cotswold Chase was an impressive effort, and while no match for Native River or Might Bite at Cheltenham, the return to this venue where he has won before may see him bounce back.

2018 AINTREE BOWL SELECTION - DEFINITLY RED (8/1, William Hill, each-way)

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Aintree Betway Bowl tips - Ellison's 8/1 chance can enjoy Red letter day in Aintree feature

Brian Healy takes a runner-by-runner look ahead to today's Grade One Aintree Bowl, the feature race on the opening day of the Aintree Grand National Festival...

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