PART II

DIARY – AINTREE FESTIVAL

GRAND NATIONAL DAY

SATURDAY 06 APRIL 2013

 

 

race 3 q r.jpg

 

Winner of the Grade 1 Liverpool Hurdle, Solwhit

 

 

Click here to read my Grand National Day Diary Part I

 

Before the first ‘proper’ race of the day, Welsh mezzo-soprano Katherine Jenkins performed the National Anthem from a podium close to the finishing line, opposite the grandstands.  I know the National Anthem is performed prior to a number of sporting events but, in this instance, I thought it rather incongruous.

I didn’t go to the course-side rails to watch this race, as I’d stayed beside the Winners’ Enclosure in order to speak with Choc.  However, I did view it on the large screen to the rear of the Parade Ring.   

The starting gate for this race was located midway down the back straight, with two flights to negotiate before the far turn.  The Paul Nicholls-trained Dodging Bullets was wearing earplugs today; the horse was actually bred by Frankie Dettori.  After a disappointing run in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, when the horse bled from his nose, connections were hoping for a much better run today.

Race 1

Mersey Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 2)

Distance

2 miles 4 furlongs (11 hurdles to negotiate)

No. of Runners

8

 

Then they were off.  The runners were led away by the Donald McCain trained Up And Go, from Eduard, the mare Utopie Des Bordes, Vasco D’Ycy, Seefood, Dodging Bullets, Ubak and Morning Royalty.  Having negotiated two flights, the runners headed around the far turn, Up And Go with a two or three lengths advantage over the field. 

 

There was no change at the head of affairs as the runners travelled down the home straight on the first occasion; in second position was Utopie Des Bordes, from Eduard, Seefood, Ubak, and Vasco D’Ycy; Dodging Bullets had dropped a number of lengths off the pace, only Morning Royalty behind him. 

 

Heading around the grandstand turn and along the back straight for the final time, Up And Go continued to lead, from Utopie Des Bordes, Seefood and Eduard.  Dodging Bullets was now at the rear of the field; he came under pressure approaching the final flight in the back straight, after which he received reminders from his jockey Ruby Walsh.  

 

Up and Go led into the final turn, from Utopie Des Bordes, Eduard, Seefood and Ubak; the remaining three had begun to lose touch.  The runners turned into the home straight, the long-time leader losing his position as the runners headed towards the third last flight.  Barry Geraghty’s mount soon taking up the running, closely pursued by Seefood. 

 

The four leading horses began to extend their advantage as they now approached two out, the mare still with her head in front, Seefood to the near-side, between them and mounting a strong challenge was Ubak, with Eduard to the far side; the latter was the first to capitulate. 

 

The leaders cleared the flight in unison, after which Ubak forged clear under a strong drive from his rider, Jamie Moore.  Having jumped the last flight, the maiden continued to extend his lead and went on the win by 16 lengths at the line.  Utopie Des Bordes and Seefood continued to battle it out for the minor honours, the former prevailing by ¾ of a length.  Eduard completed in 4th, with Morning Royalty 5th.  The long-time leader Up And Go finished 6th; Dodging Bullets a tailed off 7th.  Vasco D’Ycy was pulled up.

 

Result

Horse

Jockey

Trainer

1st

Ubak

Jamie Moore

Gary Moore

2nd

Utopie Des Bordes

Barry Geraghty

Nicky Henderson

3rd

Seefood

Bryan Cooper

Dessie Hughes

4th

Eduard

Brian Harding

Nicky Richards

 

NEWS FROM THE STEWARDS’ ROOM FOLLOWING THE RACE:


The Stewards considered the apparent improvement in form of the winner, UBAK (FR), ridden by Jamie Moore and trained by Garry Moore, compared with its previous run at Cheltenham on 13 March 2013, over 2 miles 5 furlongs on good to soft ground where it finished seventh of eight beaten 25 lengths. They noted the trainer’s explanation that the gelding was better suited by being ridden with more restraint. The Stewards ordered UBAK (FR) to be routine tested.

WHY THEY RAN BADLY

Paul Nicholls, the trainer of DODGING BULLETS, unplaced, reported that the gelding bled from the nose.

The Stewards considered the running of UP AND GO (FR), ridden by Jason Maguire and trained by Donald McCain, which was unplaced. They noted the trainer could offer no explanation for the gelding’s performance. The Stewards ordered UP AND GO (FR) to be routine tested.

I headed over to the Earl of Derby enclosure with time to spare, so was standing at the corner by the gate when the horses headed out onto the racecourse ahead of the next event.
   

Having seen the placed horses return to the Winners’ Enclosure following the previous race, I set off for the Earl Of Derby enclosure with time to spare before the walkway gates were closed to spectators.  I stood beside the racecourse exit point when the horses were led onto the racecourse.

The starting gate for the second race was in the far corner of the track; the cross fence being the first obstacle.  Bryan Cooper was deputising for the injured Andrew Lynch aboard Special Tiara; the latter jockey having got hurt during yesterday’s Topham Chase. 

Race 2

Maghull Novices’ Chase (Grade 1)

Distance

2 miles (12 fences to negotiate)

No. of Runners

6

 

Then they were off.  Overturn took up the running as they headed to the first, although he was quickly taken on by Special Tiara for that role.  Baily Green blundered at this fence, as did Marshall Zhukov; the latter jumping out to his right.

 

The runners turned the corner and headed down the home straight for the first time.  Special Tiara held the advantage over Overturn and they, in turn, led the others by four or five lengths.  Clearing the next, Sire De Grugy held third position, from Baily Green, Alderwood and Marshall Zhukov; the latter continuing to jump out to his right.  Jamie Moore’s mount took off too soon at the open-ditch and struggled to reach the far side, landing awkwardly as a result.

 

Heading down past the winning post with one circuit to go, Special Tiara held a two length advantage from Overturn, followed by Alderwood, Sire Du Grugy, Baily Green and Marshall Zhukov.  Having taken the inside line around the grandstand turn, Overturn nipped up the inside of the Henry De Bromhead-trained runner and took a narrow lead.  

 

The field headed along the back straight, with Marshall Zhukov losing ground each time he jumped out to his right; Baily Green remained at the rear of the field and was soon struggling.  Upon reaching the far turn, the leader received a reminder from his jockey, Jason Maguire.  The field headed over the cross-fence, Special Tiara still in second position, from Sire Du Grugy, Alderwood and Marshall Zhukov.  Baily Green jumped this fence but was pulled up before the next.

 

Overturn led over three out, Sire Du Grugy now his nearest pursuer.  Alderwood was outpaced at this point, but an animated AP McCoy was doing his best to rally his mount.  The leaders jumped the final open-ditch, the Donald McCain runner holding a clear advantage but Special Tiara then began to close, with Alderwood now in third position as Sire Du Grugy faded.          

 

Overturn was one length up as he jumped the last but the Irish raider gradually wore him down as they approached the line; he collared the gallant bay and he won by 1¾ lengths.  Alderwood was a further 2¼ lengths back in 3rd, with Sire Du Grugy, who had blundered badly at the last, in 4th.  Marshall Zhukov completed 5th and last. 

 

The 28-1 outsider had won.  The bookies must have been pleased, for the winner of the first race had also been a big price at 22-1. 

 

Result

Horse

Jockey

Trainer

1st

Special Tiara

Bryan Cooper

Henry De Bromhead

2nd

Overturn

Jason Maguire

Donald McCain

3rd

Alderwood

AP McCoy

Thomas Mullins

4th

Sire De Grugy

Jamie Moore

Gary Moore

 

Channel 4’s Come Dine With Me had recorded a special ‘Grand National’ themed edition prior to this year’s event; the two-part offering had been broadcast on TV during the early evening on Day One and Day Two of the Festival.  Taking part were jockey Mattie Batchelor, ex-footballer now racehorse trainer Mick Quinn, Channel 4’s Emma Spencer and former Wall Street banker Sally Rowley-Williams.  I mention this because the owner of Special Tiara is Sally Rowley-Williams (she’s a stuffed shirt!). 

 

NEWS FROM THE STEWARDS’ ROOM FOLLOWING THE RACE:


The Stewards considered the apparent improvement in form of the winner, SPECIAL TIARA, ridden by Bryan J Cooper and trained by Henry de Bromhead, compared with its previous run at Leopardstown on 3 March 2013, on the yielding ground where he finished fifth beaten 25 ¾ lengths. They noted the trainer’s explanation that the gelding was suited by the better ground. The Stewards ordered SPECIAL TIARA to be routine tested.

WHY THEY RAN BADLY
D J Casey, the rider of BAILY GREEN (IRE), which was pulled up, reported that the gelding was never travelling. The Stewards ordered BAILY GREEN (IRE) to be routine tested.

This year, the Aintree Hurdle and Liverpool Hurdle swapped days; the former event took place on Thursday, the latter being run today.  There were two Alan King runners in the race, Smad Place and Cheltenham Coral Cup winner Medinas. 

 

The starting gate for this event was situated part way up the home straight, with one flight and then two full circuits of the course to travel.

 

Race 3

Liverpool Hurdle (Grade 1)

Distance

3 miles 110 yards (13 hurdles to negotiate)

No. of Runners

13

 

Then they were off.  Clearing the first flight, the runners were led by American Spin, from Celestial Halo, Smad Place, Attaglance, Holywell, Oscara Dara, African Gold, Bear’s Affair, Solwhit, Won In The Dark, Medinas, Any Given Day and Grands Crus.  Jason Maguire’s mount received a couple of backhanders as they headed towards the lollipop on the first occasion.

 

Travelling up the back straight, Celestial Halo joined American Spin at the head of affairs clearing the second flight; African Gold hit this hurdle.  Any Given Day, in rear, received further reminders.  Ruby Walsh’s mount lead over the next and continued to cut out the running heading into the far turn; he was followed by American Spin, Attaglance and Smad Place.  At the rear of the main group were Grand Crus, Medinas and Won In The Dark; then a gap to Any Given Day.

 

Turning into the home straight once more, Bear’s Affair blundered badly at the 5th flight and his jockey Barry Geraghty pulled him up before the next.  Celestial Halo continued to lead as the runners headed over the next two flights; closely pursued by Attaglance, Holywell and Smad Place.  Medinas, who was one from the rear, was bustled up having cleared the last of these. 

 

The field galloped around the grandstand turn and out into the country for the final time.  Celestial Halo disputing the lead with Attaglance as they jumped the next flight.  The runners were still closely grouped as they headed towards end of the back straight, clearing two more hurdles en route.  The jockeys aboard the final three in the vanguard, Medinas, Any Given Day and American Spin, were more animated than the other riders; the latter two receiving reminders heading into the far turn.   

 

Celestial Halo disputed the lead with Attaglance around the final turn before heading into the home straight.  Clearing three out, Smad Place jumped into the lead; Grand Crus had crept up the inside of the field and was now disputing second with Celestial Halo, Attaglance and African Gold.  Holywell and Won In The Dark was just a length down on these, with Solwhit cruising into contention close behind these.

 

Wayne Hutchinson’s mount had a narrow advantage over Grand Crus as they jumped two out, with Solwhit breezing up between them; African Gold, Won In The Dark and Holywell just a length behind these.  Paul Carberry pushed his mount into the lead approaching the last and he jumped it clear of Holywell and Smad Place; the latter making a slight error here.

 

Solwhit then drew clear to win easily by three lengths, from Holywell, with Smad Place a further 1¼ lengths back in 3rd.   Won In The Dark claimed 4th, with African Gold 5th, Celestial Halo 6th, Grand Crus fading into 7th.  Medinas having been pulled up before 2 out.

 

Solwhit had now won eight Grade 1 races.

 

Result

Horse

Jockey

Trainer

1st

Solwhit

Paul Carberry

Charles Byrnes

2nd

Holywell

AP McCoy

Jonjo O’Neill

3rd

Smad Place

Wayne Hutchinson

Alan King

4th

Won In The Dark

Bryan Cooper

Sabrina J Harty

 

NEWS FROM THE STEWARDS’ ROOM FOLLOWING THE RACE:


WHY THEY RAN BADLY
Barry Geraghty, the rider of BEAR’S AFFAIR (IRE), which was pulled up, reported that the gelding made a bad mistake.

I returned to the Weighing Room steppings to see the placed horses arrive back.

 

Choc put in an appearance after this race too, accompanying Smad Place’s connections into the Winners’ Enclosure.  If you don’t win, third position is good, as there’s always more room on the Steppings to the far side of the Winners’ Enclosure opposite the third place marker! 

 

The placed horses having been taken back to the stable area, Choc accompanied the owners as they headed out of the Winners’ Enclosure and set off in the direction of the grandstands.  It would be my last sighting of Choc today ... but I didn’t mind as, until this morning, I would never have dreamed that I’d see him at all during my trip to Aintree, let alone speak with him or kiss him on the cheek! 

 

The starting gate for the next race was at the far end of the home straight, with that and two full circuits to travel. 

 

Race 4

Handicap Chase (Listed)

Distance

3 miles 1 furlong (19 fences to negotiate)

No. of Runners

18

 

Then they were off.  The runners were led away by Brave Spartacus, from Planet Of Sound and Problema Tic.  All the competitors safely negotiated the first three fences, although Cannington Brook dived slightly over the second, the open-ditch, and made an even worse error at the next and lost a few places.

 

Heading around the grandstand turn the order was Brave Spartacus, from Problema Tic, Planet Of Sound, Storm Survivor, Tour Des Champs, Loch Ba, Duke Of Lucca, Cantlow, Battle Group, Ballyoliver, Blenheim Brook, Cannington Brook, Garynella, Ikorodu Road, Mac Aeda, Russian War, Opening Batsman and Johns Spirit.

 

The leader jumped the next obstacle a little awkwardly but remained ahead.  Having cleared the next open-ditch, Cannington Brook received a couple of backhanders.  At the end of the back straight, Brave Spartacus still held a clear advantage over the field and Johns Spirit continued to bring up the rear. The horses headed around the far turn, over the cross-fence and turned into the home straight to complete their first circuit.  There had been no casualties thus far.

 

The field set off down the home straight, clearing all three fences without any significant problems, the long-time leader with a six length advantage as they passed the winning post with one circuit to go.  Problema Tic continued to travel in second position, from Planet Of Sound and Tour Des Champs; Opening Batsman had made noticeable progress on the outside of the field, but was then trapped out wide as they made the grandstand turn.  Cannington Brook had dropped to the rear of the runners and was being driven along.

 

The runners then began their journey down the back straight for the final time; Problema Tic and Ballyoliver both hit the first in the line of fences.  Having cleared the next, losing contact were Russian War, Blenheim Brook and equal top-weight Cannington Brook.  Brave Spartacus led the horses into the far turn, from Problema Tic, Battle Group, Tour Des Champs, Planet Of Sound, Cantlow, Loch Ba, Ikorodu Road, Mac Aeda, and Johns Spirit.  The fancied Opening Batsman, winner of this season’s Racing Plus Chase, was pulled up at the end of the back straight having made a couple of jumping errors.

 

The leader dived at the cross-fence but survived; Problema Tic was soon upsides him, with the nose-banded and cheek-pieced Battle Group to their outside a length behind.  These were followed by the grey Mac Aeda, Tour Des Champs, Loch Ba, Cantlow and Johns Spirit; the others could be discounted. 

 

Tom Scudamore’s mount led over the third last; but Battle Group cruised upside and took over at the head of affairs as they cleared the final open-ditch.  Mac Aeda became his closest challenger as they galloped towards the last; but Daryl Jacob was fully in control of the situation and drove his mount towards the final fence, extending his lead with every stride. 

 

Battle Group flew the last and stormed down to the line to win by an amazing 16 lengths.  Mac Aeda won the extended battle with Johns Spirit for the runner-up position, and Problema Tic completed in 4th.  Loch Ba finished 5th and Duke Of Lucca 6th.

 

Result

Horse

Jockey

Trainer

1st

Battle Group

Daryl Jacob

Kevin Bishop

2nd

Mac Aeda

Brian Hughes

Malcolm Jefferson

3rd

Johns Spirit

Richie McLernon

Jonjo O’Neill

4th

Problema Tic

Tom Scudamore

David Pipe

 

It was Battle Group’s second win at this Festival, having won a handicap hurdle on Thursday when ridden by Brendan Powell (Junior).  He’d also won an Aintree Festival handicap hurdle in 2011 when ridden by late replacement Barry Geraghty (intended jockey Tom Scudamore having dislocated his shoulder when parting company with The Giant Bolster during the Mildmay Novices’ Chase earlier that day); and he’d been placed 2nd in last year’s renewal of this same chase.  Although a quirky horse, he obviously loves Aintree!

 

When interviewed by RUK’s Tom O’Ryan, one of the five partnership owners known as Jolly Boys Outing, explained that they had purchased the horse in the car park at the Cheltenham Breeze Up sales;  no-one else had wanted to buy the horse!

 

NEWS FROM THE STEWARDS’ ROOM FOLLOWING THE RACE:

WHY THEY RAN BADLY
Noel Fehily, the rider of OPENING BATSMAN (IRE), which was pulled up, reported that the gelding was never travelling.

Gordon Elliott, the trainer of RUSSIAN WAR (IRE), which was pulled up, reported that the gelding bled from the nose.

That’s it for this section of the diary ...

Click here to read my Grand National Day Diary Part III

 

 

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