Start your engines; the show goes on this Friday with the second installment of the 2021 renewal of the Grand National Festival.
After Thursday’s opener, there are a further four Grade 1’s for day two of the Aintree showpiece, including the feature Marsh Chase, also known as the Melling, on the penultimate day of the fixture before Saturday’s Grand National.
2020 Champion Chaser Politolouge represents Paul Nicholls having missed the Cheltenham Festival at a late stage when found to be bleeding from the nose, but he has won and finished second in this contest before.
He fancies competition from Irish raider Fakir D’oudairies who finished second to Allaho in the Ryanair, and the Ascot Chase successor Dashel Drasher who landed a Berkshire hat-trick in the Grade 1 event in February.
Henry de Bromhead’s Notebook, a duel Grade One winner as a novice, steps up in trip for the first time over fences while Master Tommytucker chases a fourth victory this campaign.
The first top-level race, however, arrives in the form of the Betway Top Novices’ Hurdle which sees Nicky Henderson’s sole-winner Dusart make his racecourse reappearance for the first time since Newbury.
He saw off subsequent Betfair Hurdle winner Soaring Glory on his only start under rules to date and renews the partnership with Nico de Boinville in the north-west.
Third Time Lucki finished sixth in the County Hurdle but now goes for gold for Dan Skelton under brother Harry, with Kim Bailey’s always-improving Ajero looking to win a fourth contest in a row for David Bass.
Festival winner Chantry House looks to follow up his Prestbury Park heroics in the Betway Mildmay Novices’ Chase and take the step up to three miles in his stride, with Brown Advisory silver and bronze medallists, Fiddlerontheroof and The Big Breakaway, standing in his way.
Later in the card, Bravemansgame seeks redemption from his defeat to Bob Olinger as he heads for the Doom Bar Sefton Novices’ Hurdle.
Emmet Mullins’ Cape Gentleman bids for a second success across the Irish Sea, with Albert Bartlett third Streets Of Doyen once again running for John McConnell.
Oscar Elite ran a cracker in Gloucestershire for Colin Tizzard and is hardly out of place here on the back of that performance, with the lightly raced Gallyhill taking a step up in class after his Ascot second to pre-weekend rival, Midnight River.
The Randox Topham Handicap Chase is the only race of the day over the National course where Willie Mullins, who won the last renewal with Cadmium, runs Livelovelaugh with son Patrick in the plate.
Cheltenham heroine Rachael Blackmore gets the seat in the plate aboard Visioman, with Caribean Boy taking a switch to the larger fences under Daryl Jacob.
Ibelo, who finished third in the Grand Annual a month ago, carries joint top-weight for Venetia Williams along with Magic Saint.
The second day of the Grand National Festival gets underway on Friday at 1:45pm with the Pertemps Network Handicap Hurdle.