Day one of the Grand National Festival at Aintree on Thursday is set to be headlined by a star-studded renewal of the Alder Hey Aintree Bowl Chase that includes Shishkin, Ahoy Senor and A Plus Tard.
The Alder Hey Aintree Bowl (2.55) is one of a stunning quartet of Grade 1 contests due at Aintree on Thursday and it has attracted a quality field of five contenders for the three-mile-one-furlong journey around the Merseyside layout.
They include last month's Cheltenham Festival silver medallist Shishkin, Gold Cup third Conflated, former Blue Riband king A Plus Tard and Lucinda Russell's Aintree specialist Ahoy Senor.
Every race across the three days at Aintree will be on the bet365 live Sports Streaming Service and we're taking a look ahead to what should be an enthralling Aintree Bowl.
|What||Alder Hey Aintree Bowl Chase|
|Where||Aintree Racecourse, Liverpool|
|When||2.55, Thursday 13th April 2023|
|How to watch||bet365 live Sports Streaming, ITV Racing & Racing TV|
|Odds||Shishkin (15/8), Ahoy Senor (11/4), A Plus Tard (11/4), Conflated (6/1), Ga Law ()|
Nicky Henderson has touted the idea for some time and Shishkin will now compete at a trip in excess of three miles for the first time in his career.
The Seven Barrows star, a winner of the Arkle amongst his eight chasing successes, was second in last month's Ryanair Chase at Cheltenham on the back of a success at Ascot in February.
Things didn't go to plan for Nico de Boinville in the Cotswolds. Shishkin never really appeared to be travelling as sweetly as he had at Ascot previously and his jumping became ragged in the middle part of the race.
He did, though, battle on gamely late on as he came up the Cheltenham hill strongly to grab second-best behind impressive winner Envoi Allen.
He's a key player but this race has attracted some absolute star quality to Aintree and it will not be easy.
Ahoy Senor leads the charge at the start of a massive three days for trainer Lucinda Russell, who has Grand National favourite Corach Rambler to come on Saturday.
Ahoy Senor has a fine reputation at this course, winning Grade 1s in the last two seasons and defeating Bravemansgame in both cases.
He was third in the Many Clouds Chase here in December and was seemingly still full of running in last month's Gold Cup. He is typically a horse that shows his best in the springtime and at odds of he'll be a danger to all with his likely aggressive front-running tactics in play.
A Plus Tard, the 2022 Cheltenham Gold Cup winner, has failed to win in two starts this season. He was a bitter disappointment at Haydock in November but looked to be going with more gusto at Cheltenham last time before meeting interference when Ahoy Senor came down - resulting in Rachael Blackmore electing to pull up afterwards.
If he builds on that there's no doubting A Plus Tard has a key role to play here, though whether this track will play to his strengths is open to debate.
Conflated, the 2022 Irish Gold Cup winner, was third home at Cheltenham last month, having won the Savills Chase at Leopardstown in December.
Elliott's inmate should relish the test on offer here and it would be dangerous to dismiss his hopes.
All in all, the Aintree Bowl has attracted a top-class field of contenders, each with their own demons to lay to rest but, at their best, with the proven ability to contribute to what looks a thriller in prospect on day one of the Grand National Festival.