The races to watch on Ladies Day at the Grand National Festival

The races to watch on Ladies Day at the Grand National Festival

With the Grand National Festival just around the corner, attention is turned to Aintree for three days of horse racing action to see out the jumps season. With the dust only just settling on an exciting Cheltenham Festival, Aintree has plenty to live up to, but with this being the first time a full crowd can head to Merseyside since 2019, excitement is already in the air.

2020 saw the National cancelled for the first time since World War Two due to the coronavirus pandemic and since last year’s race was ran behind closed doors, it will be great to see spectators packing out stands ready to bet on the Grand National.

The camaraderie of the Aintree spectators has definitely been missed over the last couple of years, with the colours of different suits entwining to create a real spectacle when in full flow — perhaps no more so than on Ladies Day. The second day of the festival provides its own collection of hotly contested races which can sometimes be overshadowed by the anticipation for Saturday’s National. However, we thought we’d shed the spotlight on Friday and with that in mind, here are some of the races to watch on Ladies Day at the Grand National Festival.

The Marsh Steeple Chase (Melling)

The Melling is one of the newer races in Aintree’s history. Introduced in 1991, the Grade One race is the highlight of Ladies Day, often including horses which ran in the Queen Mother Champion Chase or the Ryanair Chase at Cheltenham. Former Arkle winner Captain Guinness is one of the favourites for Irish trainer Henry de Bromhead after a victory at Naas back in February, whilst Ascot Chase winner Fakir D’oudairies will provide some stiff competition as the seven-year-old looks to start another winning run having come up short to Allaho back in January.

Topham Chase

Another closely contested race to keep an eye on is the Grade Three Topham Chase. Boasting a prestigious history itself, dating back to 1949, the two-mile, five-furlong race takes place straight after the Melling, so will barely give those at Aintree a chance to catch their breath.

Last year saw Willie Mullins-trained Livelovelaugh win with son Patrick aboard, but if the Irishman is going to win the British top trainer award, he’ll have to rely on Blackbow this year, albeit with a much weaker stable coming to Merseyside than many expected. Christian Williams-trained Five Star Getaway is his closest competitor, but even he struggled in the Handicap Chase at Kempton in his only race so far this year.

Top Novices’ Hurdle

Very rarely does Aintree see such one-sided affairs on Ladies Day, but Belfast Banter found things all too easy last year in the Top Novices’ Hurdle under Keith Sexton. But with the seven-year-old absent from the Grand National Festival this year, many are hoping for a much closer affair this time around. Mullins has entered El Fabiolo for just his second race after missing the Dublin Festival, whilst Nicky Henderson’s Jonbon enters as the favourite despite his unbeaten run coming to an end at Cheltenham after losing to Constitution Hill last month.