Grand National 2019: Aintree prepares for first day of meeting

Buveur D'Air
Buveur D'Air leads the betting in the Aintree Hurdle
Randox Health Grand National
Date: Saturday, 6 April Venue: Aintree Racecourse Time: 17:15 BST
Meeting: 4-6 April Coverage: BBC Radio 5 Live, Sports Extra and BBC Sport website - more details

The Grand National meeting starts on Thursday, with the final 40-strong field for Saturday's big race set to be revealed during the morning.

Hot favourite Tiger Roll, the 2018 winner, is bidding to become the first horse since the legendary Red Rum - in 1973 and 1974 - to secure back-to-back victories.

Aintree's three-day meeting kicks off with a number of top racehorses in action, including Clan Des Obeaux and Bristol De Mai in the Betway Bowl.

Another highlight on the first day is the Aintree Hurdle, where odds-on favourite Buveur D'Air returns after falling when going for a third Champion Hurdle win at Cheltenham last month.

Brain Power and Verdana Blue complete a Nicky Henderson trio facing the Willie Mullins duo Melon and Faugheen.

The first runners to compete over the National fences at this year's meeting will be in the Foxhunters' Chase for amateur riders.

Sam Waley-Cohen, a six-time winner over the obstacles, rides leading contender Road To Rome, while amputee jockey Guy Disney is again on board Gallery Exhibition after finishing 12th last year.

That will be a taster for the 172nd running of the Grand National in which nearly a third of the field could run for Gordon Elliott, who trains Tiger Roll.

Elliott, who also enjoyed success with Silver Birch in 2007, has 13 eligible contenders in the top 40.

The record number of National runners was in 2001 when trainer Martin Pipe had 10 runners.

On Tuesday, rock star Ronnie Wood's horse Sandymount Duke was ruled out of the National after suffering a minor "setback", meaning last year's third-placed Bless The Wings is now guaranteed a run.

It is an anxious wait for those with horses just below number 40 in the National ratings.

There are 69 entries remaining but a maximum of 40 will line up, with four reserves named on Thursday.

Last year's Scottish National winner Joe Farrell is next in line to make the race if there are any withdrawals.

Approximate odds for the Grand National

7-2 Tiger Roll; 10-1 Rathvinden; 11-1 Anibale Fly; 12-1 Vintage Clouds; 14-1 Lake View Lad; 18-1 Pleasant Company, Rock The Kasbah; 20-1 Jury Duty; Mall Dini; 22-1 Pairofbrowneyes, Step Back; 25-1 bar

Thursday's race schedule and BBC coverage

(all times BST, distances in miles and furlongs)

Live coverage

13:40-16:00, BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra

Racecard

13:45 - Devenish Nutrition Manifesto Novices' Steeple Chase 2m 4f

14:20 - Doom Bar Anniversary 4YO Juvenile Hurdle 2m 1f

14:50 - Betway Bowl Steeple Chase 3m 1f

15:25 - Betway Aintree Hurdle 2m 4f

16:05 - Randox Health Foxhunters' Steeple Chase 2m 5f

16:40 - Close Brothers Red Rum Handicap Steeple Chase 2m

17:15 - Goffs Nickel Coin Mares' Standard Open NH Flat 2m 1f

Preview show

19:00-20:00 BBC Radio 5 Live Sport

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