Day one Aintree tips: La Bague Au Roi (2/1), Song For Someone (20/1) and Verdana Blue (14/1)

Aintree’s Grand National meeting begins on Thursday with four consecutive Grade Ones, which sentimentally feature several 2pts win favourites from past and present.

The first and most obvious value bet of the day is LA BAGUE AU ROI at 2/1 in the 2m4f novices’ chase that opens the card.

We tipped her at 8/1 when she beat RSA Chase 1-2 Topofthegame and Santini in a Grade 1 at Kempton over Christmas, and, while that was over 3m, she won a second Grade 1 at Leopardstown in February over the intermediate 2m4f trip.

Having bypassed Cheltenham, she should be fresh and fully geared up for this and I’m amazed she isn’t pushing odds-on favuoritism; 2/1 grossly underestimates her chance against a very ordinary bunch.

Glen Forsa is the only one of the five that oppose her that isn’t fully exposed, but at the prices there is no doubt where the best bet is.

2pts win La Bague Au Roi @2/1, 13:45 Aintree, Thursday

Race two sees our 7/1 Cheltenham winner Band Of Outlaws step up to Grade 1 company against the surprise Triumph Hurdle winner Pentland Hills, and it’s hard not to really fancy his chances after doing it so easily on his previous three starts.

With stablemate Fakir D’oudairies, who was probably ahead of Band Of Outlaws in the pecking order before Cheltenham, in opposition, as well as some unexposed long-shots, this is no two-horse race.

The return to a flat track might revive Adjali’s fortunes and 33/1 could massively underestimate him, but the one I want to be on is SONG FOR SOMEONE, who was a selection when withdrawn at Kempton recently and is a big price at 33/1 to make his mark at this level.

He looks a good jumper for a juvenile hurdler and has some collateral form with Band Of Outlaws, beating Praeceps 9l earlier in the season to earn a mark of 139, which puts him within 10lb of Band Of Outlaws’s new mark of 149.

Winning would still require a fair amount of improvement but Song For Someone is going the right way, and with the price on the generous side I wouldn’t rule him out.

Bet365 offer 20/1 each-way in the W/O Band Of Outlaws market and that’s probably the best way to go, as I don’t want to be against the fav.

1pt each-way Song For Someone W/O Band Of Outlaws @20/1, 14:10 Aintree, Thursday (1,2,3, 1/5 with Bet365)

I’m really looking forward to seeing Clan Des Obeaux try to redeem himself in the Bowl at 14:50, as I’m absolutely convinced he was the class act in the Gold Cup.

It’s easy to say he didn’t stay up the hill but he looked out of rhythm all the way around the Gold Cup, travelling awkwardly despite jumping brilliantly, and I just don’t think he’s as strong a traveller on softer ground and on an undulating track like Cheltenham.

It’ll be far better ground and a flat track at Aintree, so I’m expecting him to win, but there’s no juice in his price given he had a hard race at Cheltenham and there’s got to be a fair chance it might have left a mark.

In the Aintree Hurdle I’d be fully expecting Buveur D’Air to bounce back to form after taking a tumble early in the Champion Hurdle, but he has made big jumping mistakes in most his starts this season and is certainly an odds-on favourite that can be taken on.

I’m looking no further than his stablemate VERDANA BLUE, who beat him in the Christmas Hurdle at Kempton, and thrives on a flat track on decent ground – which she gets.

The main thing in her favour from a betting angle is she appears to finish her races quite strongly and this is her first go stepping up to 2m4f, so I suspect she might find some improvement.

14/1 feels big enough to throw a dart at as I wouldn’t have high hopes for any of the Irish raiders, as most of them have seen better days and I couldn’t trust Melon will turn up.

Given the unproven stamina, Verdana Blue could be boom or bust so I wouldn’t be looking at an each-way bet.

1pt win Verdana Blue @14/1, 15:25 Aintree, Thursday (SkyBet)

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