PART II

DIARY – AINTREE FESTIVAL

GRAND NATIONAL DAY

SATURDAY 05 APRIL 2014

 

 

 

Pineau De Re r.jpg

 

The Grand National winner, Pineau De Re, is paraded

following the final race of the day.

 

Click here to read my Grand National Day Diary Part I

 

During the interlude between the fourth race and the Grand National, the Military Wives choir performed the National Anthem whilst standing within the corral in front of the Earl of Derby and Lord Sefton stands.

I had hoped to retain my favourite vantage point prior to the horses leaving the Parade Ring ahead of the Grand National.  But it was not to be, as I was pushed back slightly away from the corner by others so was unable to get a clear view of the horses as they headed in my direction.  Damn.

 

I’d also forgotten that the competitors now begin the pre-race parade in random order immediately after exiting onto the racecourse, rather than be organised first into number order within the two holding pens in front of the Earl of Derby and Lord Sefton stands respectively.  Therefore I had no second chance to take photographs.

 

The starting gate remained in its 2013 position, shortening the distance of the race by half a furlong.  This was to take the horses further away from the cauldron of excitement; this having been emphasised in recent years with the completion of the Lord Sefton and Earl of Derby grandstands.

 

It was disappointing that Alan King had just one runner in this event; my favourite horse, the grey Walkon.  And more disappointing still that Wayne Hutchinson got the ride, rather than Choc.  Godsmejudge had been entered up until the previous Monday; he’d been withdrawn as Alan wasn’t satisfied that the horse was quite ready to compete due to his slow recovery from a mid-season blip which had affected many of the equines in the yard. 

 

For the record, Godsmejudge took part in the following Saturday’s Scottish Grand National which he’d won last year.  With Wayne having sustained a knee injury a couple of days previously, the mount was taken by Aidan Coleman and they finished a gallant 2nd to the outsider Al Co trained by Peter Bowen and ridden by Jamie Moore.  Choc had ridden Midnight Appeal in the same race but came to grief at the last fence with once circuit to go.  Tidal Bay had made a mockery of the weights on that day, with the majority of runners out of the handicap.  Midnight Appeal carried just 10 stone 1 pound; Choc and one other jockey had to put up overweight, as he can’t do less than 10 stone 3 pounds!

 

Two weeks later still, Godsmejudge, ridden by the recovered Wayne Hutchinson, finished 3rd in the bet365 Chase on season Finale Day at Sandown Park.  Choc had been due to ride Midnight Appeal again that day, but had picked up a neck and rib injury at Chepstow the previous evening.  Jamie Moore deputised and they finished an unplaced last of the finishers. 

 

There were four greys in the race, the aforementioned Walkon, Our Father, Rose Of The Moon and Swing Bill.  Katie Walsh deputised for the injured Mikey Fogarty aboard Vesper Bell; there were no other jockey changes.

 

There were two joint-favourites at the off.  Teaforthree and Double Seven, priced 10-1. 

 

Having been to look at the first fence before returning to the starting gate where the runners circled for a number of minutes, the jockeys caught everyone by surprise as they moved forward to line up despite evidently being advised by the Assistant Starter that it was not yet time to do so.  They took no notice and, as a result, the Assistant Starter was knocked over.  They were requested to take a turn. 

 

There was no surprise that Battle Group hadn’t moved forward with the others, he’d dug in his feet instead and remain glued to his chosen spot.  Brendan Powell had jumped off his mount, the horse then consented to move forward and the jockey was legged into the saddle once more and cantered to join the others.

 

Then they were off ... or rather they weren’t because the Starter decided it was a false start. Despite it appearing that Battle Group might consent to leave the gate, although he may have pulled himself up before they’d reached the first fence. 

 

The horses were recalled; Our Father, Raz De Maree, Alvarado, Big Shu, Long Run and Lion Na Bearnai made it to the footboard of the first fence but did pull up.  The horses returned to the starting gate to try once more. 

 

Race 5

The Grand National Chase (Handicap) (Grade 3)

Distance

4 miles 3 furlongs 110 yards (30 fences to negotiate)

No. of Runners

40

 

They reorganised themselves and then they were off; officially.  Battle Group planted himself once again and refused to start. 

 

The 39 remaining runners headed across the Melling Road and approached the first fence.  Across The Bay and The Package led over this obstacle, also prominent were Wayward Prince and Rose Of The Moon; the leading horses were mid- to far-side of the field.  Hunt Ball made a mistake here and ahead of mid-field on the wide outside, Twirling Magnet gave Richie McLernon a tumble.  The horse was fine, got up and galloped away, but the jockey didn’t look too good afterwards; having received a number of stitches in a gash beneath his right eye.  Balthazar King was slightly hampered by the faller. 

 

The runners headed on down to the second fence where to the inside of the track, Burton Port blundered and unseated Brian Harding.  Towards the rear, the 14-1 shot Big Shu who had been hampered at the second obstacle, fell at the third fence, the open-ditch.  There were no casualties at the fourth but centre field, nearer last than first, the white faced chestnut Chance Du Roy made a noticeable error here.

 

The horses headed on down to the fifth, to the inside in mid-field AP McCoy’s mount Double Seven clobbered the fence; his jockey regrouped and the partnership continued.  Kruzhlinin travelled at the back of the field, he wasn’t jumping smoothly, and he made an error here too; aided and abetted by the loose horse preceding him.

 

The field then headed on towards Becher’s with Across the Bay leading towards the outside of the runners, Long Run in runner-up position centre field.  Walkon was travelling in mid-field, almost upsides Swing Bill to his outside.  Sam Waley-Cohen steered his mount to the inside in the last few strides before the fence to take advantage of the curve in the track which followed it.  All the runners negotiated this safely, apart from one of the Irish raiders, Last Time D’Albain who made a jumping error and unseated Robbie Colgan. 

 

There were no casualties at the Fionavon fence; Across The Bay and Long Run led the field to the Canal Turn.  Golan Way, on the outside of the field, fell here.  Unfortunately Tidal Bay was travelling in his wake and had little room to manoeuvre; he collided with the prostrate horse and Sam Twiston-Davies exited via the off-side door.  Our Father also unseated here; he had been positioned close to the incident and perhaps the scrimmage upset the jockey’s balance because he fell off some way past the fence.  

 

Long Run took a crunching fall at Valentines; his jockey fortunate to avoid the hooves of two horses following in his wake as he rolled away.  Mountainous who was travelling close to the pace, to the outside, also got too close to the fence and fell; it was an almost identical incident.  In a loose horse melee, which also involved the rider-less Our Father, Aidan Coleman was knocked out of the saddle aboard The Rainbow Hunter; Chance Du Roy was fortunate not to be involved too, although he was hampered, as was stable-mate Balthazar King and Wayward Prince ahead of him.

 

This left Across The Bay well clear of his pursuers as they headed to the next; there were no fallers here, nor at the next, which is another open-ditch.  Disputing second at this point were Mr Moonshine and Colbert Station, behind these Rocky Creek and Rose Of The Moon.  In mid-field Pineau De Re made a bit of an error here.  The remaining horses cleared one more obstacle before heading across the Melling Road by Anchor Bridge, around the long sweeping turn to face the thirteenth fence.

 

Pineau De Re blundered here, hampering One In A Milan in the process; but no fallers.  The runners also cleared the next with no mishaps and then headed towards the Chair.  There was a scary moment when two of the loose horses, one of which was Our Father, decided to cut across ahead of the field and head down the home straight instead of jumping this obstacle.  On the inside Teaforthree blundered and lost momentum, Nick Scholfield catapulted over his head.  Actually he didn’t have a hope of winning anyway because he was my sweepstake horse!

 

Across The Bay held a clear lead over the water-jump but he was being harried by a loose horse; it was Tidal Bay.  Henry Brooke steered his mount in the direction of the bend, but the loose horse got ahead of him, and he knew where the stables were.  Thus he carried Across The Bay all the way to the plastic railings separating the chase from the hurdles track.  Tidal Bay attempted to jump the rails, but he demolished them instead.  Henry Brooke managed to stop his mount to a trot just in time and, now that the loose horse was gone, he was able to rejoin the field; but he was now at the back, many lengths behind.  

   

At the same time, a number of the other loose horses arrived in the corral immediately in front of me, including both Long Run and Mountainous.  They looked absolutely fine following their falls; they were caught and led away to the stables. 

 

Meanwhile, back at the head of affairs, Colbert Station led the way narrowly from Rocky Creek, Rose Of The Moon, Mr Moonshine, The Package and Double Seven.  Walkon was still going okay; he travelled to the inside of the runners in mid-field.  There were no further fallers as they travelled over the five fences before Becher’s.  However, having lost touch, Shakalakaboomboom was pulled up before the 20th, Quito De La Roque before the 21st and Triolo D’Alene before Becher’s Brook, having struggled over the previous fence.     

 

Mr Moonshine and Rocky Creek led over Becher’s, from Double Seven, Prince De Beauchene, and Pineau De Re, with Balthazar King to the wide outside.  The Evan Williams-runner One In A Milan, having made an error at the 19th, and travelling just behind these leaders, capsized upon landing over the infamous fence.  That left 24 runners remaining as they headed towards the Foinavon fence once more; the tiring Colbert Station made an error here.  Then, having cleared the Canal Turn, Mark Walsh pulled him up.

 

Mr Moonshine led the field over Valentines, from Rocky Creek, Double Seven, Prince De Beauchene and Pineau De Re.  Vesper Bell ridden by Katie Walsh replacing the injured Mikey Fogarty, blundered here.  Vintage Star was pulled up before the next, where Rose of The Moon fell; Buckers Bridge made an error here.  There were no departures at the final open-ditch; Lion Na Bearnai was pulled up prior to the fence.  Walkon travelled in 13th position at this point. 

 

Rocky Creek held a narrow advantage over Mr Moonshine as the runners jumped the final fence before returning across the Melling Road.  The tailed-off Wayward Prince fell here.  Travelling around the final bend, Balthazar King came under pressure and dropped back to dispute third position with Double Seven, two or three lengths behind the leading duo of Pineau De Re and Rocky Creek.  Three lengths behind these were Mr Moonshine and Chance Du Roy.  Back in the field Walkon was pulled wide as he approached two out; Wayne Hutchison soon pulling him up, he’d gone lame behind. 

 

Pineau De Re led over the penultimate fence, from Rocky Creek and Balthazar King; although the leader did jump out to his right.  Leighton Aspell’s mount had extended his advantage to three lengths as they cleared the last, Balthazar King staying on gamely to take second in pursuit.  Double Seven was in third position, Rocky Creek tiring in fourth, Chance Du Roy behind him, then Monbeg Dude, the fast-finishing white-faced Alvarado and Swing Bill.

 

However the leader wasn’t for catching and he continued to increase his advantage over his rivals; the official distance at the line was 5 lengths.  Balthazar King claimed 2nd, with Double Seven 1¼ lengths back in 3rd.  Alvarado claimed 4th, a further 10 lengths away; never nearer.  Rocky Creek just held onto 5th place, by a short-head from Chance Du Roy.  Monbeg Dude completed in 7th.  Eighteen horses completed the course, with Hawkes Point finishing last.  

 

Here is the full result for all those runners which finished the race:

 

Result

Horse

Jockey

Trainer

1st

Pineau De Re

Leighton Aspell

Dr Richard Newland

2nd

Balthazar King

Richard Johnson

Philip Hobbs

3rd

Double Seven

AP McCoy

Martin Brassil

4th

Alvarado

Paul Moloney

Fergal O’Brien

5th

Rocky Creek

Noel Fehily

Paul Nicholls

6th

Chance Du Roy

Tom O’Brien

Philip Hobbs

7th

Monbeg Dude

Paul Carberry

Michael Scudamore

8th

Raz De Maree

Davy Condon

Dessie Hughes

9th

Swing Bill

Colin O’Farrell

David Pipe

10th

Kruzhlinin

Wilson Renwick

Donald McCain

11th

Buckers Bridge

Andrew Lynch

Henry de Bromhead

12th

The Package

Tom Scudamore

David Pipe

13th

Vesper Bell

Ms Katie Walsh

Willie Mullins

14th

Across The Bay

Henry Brooke

Donald McCain

15th

Mr Moonshine

Ryan Mania

Sue Smith

16th

Prince De Beauchene

Paul Townend

Willie Mullins

17th

Hunt Ball

Andrew Tinkler

Nicky Henderson

18th

Hawkes Point

Ryan Mahon

Paul Nicholls

 

And those which did not finish:

 

Pulled Up

Before 2 out

Walkon

Wayne Hutchinson

Alan King

Fell

3 out

Wayward Prince

Jack Doyle

Mrs H Parrott

Pulled Up

Before 4 out

Lion Na Bearnai

Davy Russell

T Gibney

Fell

26th fence

Rose Of The Moon

Jake Greenall

David O’Meara

Pulled Up

Before 26th

Vintage Star

Brian Hughes

Sue Smith

Pulled Up

Before 25th

Colbert Station

Mark Walsh

Ted Walsh

Fell

22nd fence

One In A Milan

Adam Wedge

Evan Williams

Pulled Up

Before 22nd

Triolo D’Alene

Barry Geraghty

Nicky Henderson

Pulled Up

Before 21st

Quito De La Roque

BT O’Connell

Colm Murphy

Pulled Up

Before 20th

Shakalakaboomboom

David Bass

Nicky Henderson

Unseated

15th fence

Teaforthree

Nick Scholfield

Rebecca Curtis

Fell

9th fence

Long Run

Mr Sam Waley-Cohen

Nicky Henderson

Fell

9th fence

Mountainous

Jamie Moore

Richard Lee

Unseated

After 8th

Our Father

Denis O’Regan

David Pipe

Unseated

8th fence

The Rainbow Hunter

Aidan Coleman

Kim Bailey

Unseated

8th fence

Tidal Bay

Sam Twiston-Davies

Paul Nicholls

Fell

8th fence

Golan Way

Michael Byrne

Tim Vaughan

Unseated

6th fence

Last Time D’Albain

RC Colgan

LP Cusack

Fell

3rd fence

Big Shu

Peter Buchanan

P Maher

Unseated

2nd fence

Burton Port

Brian Harding

Jonjo O’Neill

Fell

1st fence

Twirling Magnet

Richie McLernon

Jonjo O’Neill

Refused to race

N/A

Battle Group

Brendan Powell

Johnny Farrelly

 

This year’s story the return of Leighton Aspell, who had retired from the saddle in 2007 only to return in 2009; this was his 7th attempt at the race, now aged 37.  It was trainer Dr Richard Newland’s first runner in the race. 

 

Having arrived back from his early race mishap, Sam Twiston-Davies, who rides regularly for the yard and had ridden the horse on a number of occasions in the past, offered congratulations and hugs to the stable lass Carolyn White and the trainer too as the horse was led back down the course to be greeted by the waiting cameras and media. 

 

I didn’t even attempt to return to the Winners’ Enclosure following the Grand National this year.  I was more concerned for the fate of my favourite horse; I saw a horse ambulance heading up the racecourse to collect him.  It later transpired that Walkon had slipped a tendon off one of his hocks; he should be okay and race again following box rest. 

 

NEWS FROM THE STEWARDS’ ROOM FOLLOWING THE RACE:

 

The Stewards held an enquiry following a report from the Starter that Sam Twiston-Davies, the rider of TIDAL BAY (IRE), Mr S Waley-Cohen, the rider of LONG RUN (FR), Andrew Tinkler, the rider of HUNT BALL (IRE), Barry Geraghty, the rider of TRIOLO D’ALENE (FR), Noel Fehily, the rider of ROCKY CREEK (IRE), Brian O’Connell, the rider of QUITO DE LA ROQUE (FR), Mark Walsh, the rider of COLBERT STATION (IRE), Wayne Hutchinson, the rider of WALKON (FR), Richard Johnson, the rider of BALTHAZAR KING (IRE), Jack Doyle, the rider of WAYWARD PRINCE, Ryan Mania, the rider of MR MOONSHINE (IRE), Nick Schofield, the rider of TEAFORTHREE (IRE), Henry Brooke, the rider of ACROSS THE BAY (IRE), A P McCoy, the rider of DOUBLE SEVEN (IRE), A E Lynch, the rider of BUCKERS BRIDGE (IRE), Davy Russell, the rider of LION NA BEARNAI (IRE), Paul Townend, the rider of PRINCE DE BEAUCHENE (FR), Paul Carberry, the rider of MONBEG DUDE (IRE), Peter Buchanan, the rider of BIG SHU (IRE), Brian Harding, the rider of BURTON PORT (IRE), Denis O’Regan, the rider of OUR FATHER (IRE), Jamie Moore, the rider of MOUNTAINOUS (IRE), Aidan Coleman, the rider of THE RAINBOW HUNTER, Brian Hughes, the rider of VINTAGE STAR (IRE), Tom O’Brien, the rider of CHANCE DU ROY (FR), Ryan Mahon, the rider of HAWKES POINT, Wilson Renwick, the rider of KRUZHLININ (GER), Leighton Aspell, the rider of PINEAU DE RE (FR), Michael Byrne, the rider of GOLAN WAY, Richie McLernon, the rider of TWIRLING MAGNET (IRE), Katie Walsh, the rider of VESPER BELL (IRE), Tom Scudamore, the rider of THE PACKAGE, Davy Condon, the rider of RAZ DE MAREE (FR), Jake Greenall, the rider of ROSE OF THE MOON (IRE), David Bass, the rider of SHAKALAKABOOMBOOM (IRE), Paul Moloney, the rider of ALVARADO (IRE), Robert Colgan, the rider of LAST TIME D’ALBAIN (FR), Adam Wedge, the rider of ONE IN A MILAN (IRE) AND Conor O’Farrell, the rider of SWING BILL (FR) had lined up despite being advised by the Assistant Starter, who was positioned in front of the field, that it was not yet race time and then proceeded towards the start.

When these riders moved forward towards the start they knocked down the Assistant Starter, thereby comprising the welfare of an Official. After taking initial evidence from the riders and the Starting Team, the Stewards adjourned the Enquiry to consider the matter. In attempting to re-convene the Enquiry after the last race, the riders, who had not been given permission to leave the course, refused to attend the Enquiry. The Stewards have referred the matter to the British Horseracing Authority.

The Stewards held an enquiry to consider why Jack Doyle, the rider of WAYWARD PRINCE, which fell at the fourth-last fence, had continued in the race when his horse appeared to be exhausted. They interviewed the rider and having heard his evidence and viewed recordings of the race the Stewards found him in breach of Rule (D)45.3 and suspended him for 12 days as follows: Saturday 19 April to Saturday 26 April inclusive and Thursday 1, Friday 2, Saturday 3 and Monday 5 May 2014.

WHY THEY RAN BADLY

The Veterinary Officer reported that QUITO DE LA ROQUE (FR), trained by Colm A Murphy, which was pulled up, had bled from the nose.

The Veterinary Officer reported that ROSE OF THE MOON (IRE), which fell, trained by David O’Meara, had bled from the nose.

Nicky Henderson, the trainer of TRIOLO D’ALENE (FR), unplaced, reported that the gelding had a breathing problem.

The Veterinary Officer reported that WALKON (FR), which was pulled up, trained by Alan King, was lame behind.

Whilst I was still loitering beside the course-side rails ahead of the next race, one of the stewards manning the large walkway gates commented that I was probably the only person he’d seen all day that, at no time, had been carrying an alcoholic drink!  I told him I was losing enough brain cells by this stage of my life, without helping them on their way.  He laughed.  I’ve never really worried about alcohol, and can count the number of times I’ve had a hangover on the fingers of one hand! 

 

The favourite for the next race was Katgary, trained by Paul Nicholls and ridden by Harry Derham, starting price 5-2.  Michael Byrne deputised for the injured Mikey Fogarty aboard Rocky Wednesday.

   

The starting gate for this race was located in the far corner of the track.  In the background, as the horses circled at the start, vehicles could already been seen leaving the centre course Steeplechase car park; pedestrians too.  They’d seen the feature race and then went home; they must have attended for the craic not the racing.  Some people have no stamina! 

 

 

Race 6

Handicap Hurdle

(for Conditional Jockeys and Amateur Riders)

Distance

2 miles 110 yards (9 hurdles to negotiate)

No. of Runners

22

Court Minstrel, Vasco Du Ronceray, Yorkist, Ubaltique, Rocky Wednesday, Rainbow Peak, Jumps Road, Strongpoint, Massini’s Trap, Kashmir Peak, Katgary, Somethingwonderful, Roman Flight, Leviathan, Swnymor, Bold Henry, Bordoni, Nesterenko, Drumlee, Scots Gaelic, Glen Beg, Twoways

Then they were off.  The field headed along the short stretch of track along the top of the racecourse before negotiating the bend and entering the home straight.  Leviathan and Somethingwonderful led the field; Court Minstrel was held up in rear.  The former made a slight error at the first, Swnymor a worse one in mid-field.  There was no change at the head of affairs as the runners continued down the home straight, clearing two further flights without incident. 

Heading past the main grandstands the order was Leviathan and Somethingwonderful, from Nesterenko, Bordoni and Rainbow Peak, they were followed by Katgary, Roman Flight, Vasco Du Ronceray, Scots Gaelic, Swnymor, Yorkist, Bold Henry, Kashmir Peak, Jumps Road, Glen Beg, Ubaltique, Two Ways, Rocky Wednesday, Drumlee, Strongpoint, Court Minstrel and Massini’s Trap. 

Having passed the winning post and negotiated the bend, the runners headed along the short stretch of track in front of the hospitality boxes before entering the back straight.  Two Ways appeared to go lame behind, his jockey applying the brakes and eventually easing to a halt; he dismounted.  Meanwhile the race continued.

Leviathan led the runners towards the fourth flight; he held a two lengths advantage over Somethingwonderful.  Three lengths back were Nesterenko, Bordoni and Rainbow Peak; these three held a clear advantage over the remaining runners.  The Gigginstown runner closed upon the leader and they jumped it in unison; trailing in rear was Massini’s Trap.   

Levianthan stepped on the inside panel of the next flight and flattened it.  The field headed over the pathway and approached four out; Somethingwonderful and Leviathan still led.  Having cleared the flight, near the rear of the field Scots Gaelic received reminders.  As they entered the final turn, Leviathan began to lose ground, with Somethingwonderful now holding the advantage from the cheek-pieced Bordoni.  The field were closely packed once more, especially those ahead of mid-field.

They headed along the top of the track and negotiated the final turn to enter the home straight; Somethingwonderful led from Yorkist and Bordoni.  Nesterenko and Glen Beg travelled just behind these.  The runners fanned out to approach three out, where in third place Bordoni made an error. Heading towards two out, Rainbow Peak was squeezed up having tried to challenge between Yorkist and Glen Beg.  This forced his jockey to take evasive action and he tried to switch to their inside, only to find that Katgary was now blocking his path.  He had to sit and suffer for the moment. 

The field cleared two out and headed towards the last.  Glen Beg held a narrow advantage but almost upsides to her inside were Somethingwonderful and Nesterenko; to her outside Strongpoint and the cruising Court Minstrel.  They jumped the last; finally Rainbow Peak found room to make his challenge, although he drifted to the far rail under a strong right-hand drive.

It was then neck and neck to the line, Court Minstrel versus Rainbow Peak; the former also edged to his left.  Joshua Moore’s mount appeared to have every chance as they approached the winning post but, in the end, Court Minstrel prevailed by 1¼ lengths at the line.  Glen Beg finished four lengths away in 3rd, with Nesterenko just failing to pip her on the line; a short-head the distance between them.  

 

Result

Horse

Jockey

Trainer

1st

Court Minstrel

Adam Wedge

Evan Williams

2nd

Rainbow Peak

Joshua Moore

John Ferguson

3rd

Glen Beg

KC Sexton

Miss E Doyle

4th

Nesterenko

Nico de Boinville

Nicky Henderson

 

When Twoways had been pulled up, the stable lass and the trainer had rushed out across the racecourse in order to reach their horse as soon as possible; the stable lass was the fitter, as she soon left the trainer in her wake.   I later saw the horse ambulance drive back towards the stables, presumably with the injured animal inside. 

 

NEWS FROM THE STEWARDS’ ROOM FOLLOWING THE RACE:


WHY THEY RAN BADLY


The Veterinary Officer reported that TWOWAYS (IRE), which was pulled up, trained by Mark Rimell, was lame.

Following race six I actually decided to return to the Parade Ring to see Choc arrive therein ahead of his ride in the next.  And I managed to scoot back to my favourite vantage point prior to any of the horses leaving the paddock.

 

Alan King had two runners in this race, Ordo Ab Chao and McCabe Creek.  Choc was to ride the former and Wayne Hutchinson the latter.  There were two 9-2 co-favourites for this race, namely Modus trained by Robert Stephens and ridden by Tom O’Brien and Bringithomeminty trained by Nicky Henderson and ridden by Barry Geraghty.  

 

Aqalim was full of beans in the Parade Ring, bouncing around and kicking out with his hind-legs.  When it was time to head along the walkway to the racecourse, the horse was led out with Denis O’Regan following on foot to be legged up a short while later.  

 

The starting gate for this race was located in the far corner of the track; with one and a half circuits to travel.  The horses circle within a small holding pen to the outside of the course ahead of the race.  When they were instructed to head out onto the racecourse, Aqalim leading the way, there wasn’t much room to the inside.  As a result, Fly Home Harry was squeezed up and he broke the top rail away from the vertical post.  Modus had been shuffled back and relegated to near the rear of the group; he stepped through the debris to follow the others.   

 

Race 7

Champion Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race (Grade 2)

Distance

2 miles 1 furlong

No. of Runners

19

Aiaam Al Namoos, Ballybolley, Battle Born, Beatu, Bringithomeminty, Clondaw Banker, Fly Home Harry, Hunters Hoof, It’s High Time, Ordo Ab Chao, Our Kaempfer, Relic Rock, Aqalim, Hurricane Hollow, McCabe Creek, Modus, Puisque Tu Pars, Royal Supreme, Uncle Muf

 

Then they were off.   The field was led away by Battle Born, from Clondaw Banker, the hard pulling Puisque Tu Pars to the inside and Aqalim to the outside.  McCabe Creek was at the rear of the field; Choc aboard Ordo Ab Chao travelling just ahead of his stable companion.  The tightly packed field headed into the first turn, where there was some bumping and barging to the inside through lack of room; Royal Supreme baulked Beatu who, in turn, hampered Hurricane Hollow.   

 

The runners headed down the straight, passing between the wings of the three absent flights; Battle Born leading the way. The order as they approached the grandstands was Battle Born, from Clondaw Banker, Aqalim, Relic Rock, Modus, Aiaam Al Namoos, Puisque Tu Pars, Ballybolley, Bringithomeminty, Fly Home Harry, Hunters Hoof, Ordo Ab Chao, It’s High Time, Our Kaempfer, Royal Supreme, Uncle Muf, Beatu, McCabe Creek and Hurricane Hollow.  

 

Aqalim was sweating noticeably as he travelled past the winning post and around the grandstand bend; it was dripping from beneath his breast girth.  Relic Rock was sweating too.  The field galloped along the short stretch of track beside the hospitality boxes, around the bend and into the back straight; there was no change at the head of affairs.  The pace began to increase as they travelled along this stretch of the track, between three sets of wings and into the far turn.  None of the jockeys had raised a whip yet, although a number of the horses at the rear of the field were receiving slaps down their neck.  The first horse beaten was Uncle Muf.

 

Having traversed the stretch of track to the outside of the cross-fence, the runners then headed into the home straight.  Relic Rock, under the Champion Jockey took up the running prior to them reaching the next set of hurdle wings.  To the nearside, It’s High Time was in hot pursuit; Battle Born was disputing third place with Ballybolley and Aqalim was behind these.  In their wake was Ordo Ab Chao laying down his challenge; McCabe Creek had improved his position but was still some way off the pace.

 

Relic Rock continued to lead as they headed into the final quarter mile; Ballybolley now his closest pursuer.  Aqalim held a narrow advantage over Battle Born for third, with Choc making his challenge to their inside.  They entered the final furlong, AP driving his mount for all he was worth to stave off the closing Ballybolley under Sam Twiston-Davies.  The line approached, it was still nip and tuck.  Photograph.

 

Having drawn upsides Aqalim in the final furlong, Choc’s mount had no more to give and the former pulled away again as the line approached.   

 

The result of the photograph was announced.  Ballybolley had won by a head.  Aqalim was a further 2½ lengths back in 3rd, with Ordo Ab Chao 1¾ lengths 4th.  Our Kaempfer finished 5th, long-time leader Battle Born 6th and Hurricane Hollow 7th.

 

Result

Horse

Jockey

Trainer

1st

Ballybolley

Sam Twiston-Davies

Nigel Twiston-Davies

2nd

Relic Rock

AP McCoy

Steve Gollings

3rd

Aqalim

Denis O’Regan

John Ferguson

4th

Ordo Ab Chao

Choc Thornton

Alan King

 

NEWS FROM THE STEWARDS’ ROOM FOLLOWING THE RACE:

The Stewards noted that ROYAL SUPREME (IRE), unplaced, had interfered with BEATU (IRE), unplaced, which in turn interfered with HURRICANE HOLLOW, unplaced, on the first bend but after viewing a recording of the race they were satisfied that it did not involve a riding offence.

The Stewards noted that AQALIM, placed third, had interfered with CLONDAW BANKER (IRE), unplaced, which in turn interfered with MODUS, unplaced, on the bend turning into the back straight, but after viewing a recording of the incident they were satisfied that it neither involved a riding offence nor improved AQALIM’s placing.

Following the final race of the day, I went back to the Winners’ Enclosure see Choc return to the Winners’ Enclosure having finished 4th aboard his mount.  Having dismounted, chatted with connections, he removed his helmet in order to weigh out upon the scales which were placed to the nearside of the podium.  He then exited the Enclosure and climbed the steps to return to the Weighing Room for the final time today.  Choc’s mum and companions waited on the steppings for him to change into his civvies and return. 

Little did I know that it would be the last time I’d see Choc for a while, because he suffered an injury at Chepstow the evening before I was attending Sandown Park for the season Finale; he missed three riding engagements that day. 

It was now time for me to return to my favoured spot beside the course-side rails to await the arrival of Pineau De Re who would be paraded in the pulling-up area so that punters could take photographs.  I guess it’s also to prove that he had suffered no ill-effects following the race; a ‘media’ exercise; the same happened last year when Auroras Encore won the big race.  I took lots of photographs and waited until the horse was led back to his box by his stable lass before I decided to leave. 

There was just one more task to perform before departure, a visit to the loos to the rear of the Earl of Derby stand.  This year the cleaners were well on top of their tasks, with the toilets unexpectedly clean and tidy at the end of each day this year.  I then walked along the concourse in front of the main stands to join the back of a substantial queue which had formed to cross the racecourse in order to catch the bus.

It took a few minutes to be given the all clear and we were permitted to walk across the course upon the green carpet; today it was strewn with rubbish … nothing really changes!  The two buses waiting were almost full, standing room only; I don’t really enjoy hanging on for dear life at the end of a day at the races!  However, the journey around the infield completed, I alighted and walked across the back straight, over the Melling Road, just one coach creeping up to the crossing point so barely a risk of being knocked over on this occasion.

My walk then took me beneath the entrance marquee and following a right turn, I walked down the driveway to find my car within the parking area.  Someone parked close to my vehicle had been having a party; a number of champagne bottles lay in a heap on the ground.  I took off my outer clothes, changed into my driving shoes, ate a number of Jaffa Cakes and was all set to leave, departing at 19:00.

Being further back in the car park than I’m accustomed to, I was able to join the rear of the queue; the driver of the vehicle in front of me was so impatient that he left the queue, drove around a not very large grass island, only to rejoin it just a few cars further on!  Not worth the effort really!

Cars had also been parked within the enclosed camping area, part way up the drive, and they were merging into my queue too, thus delaying us further.  Also, just prior to Anchor Bridge, the stewards were ensuring that any coaches that wished to leave took priority over the cars.  The sand which had been placed upon the Melling Road to provide a racing surface for the past three days had been cleared to expose the tarmac once more.  It had taken me ten minutes to reach the road outside.

I turned left, as signposted.  Having been to Aintree on 13 occasions now, I really should investigate the possibility of travelling via one of the back roads just as I do at Cheltenham.  It then took a 15 further minutes to reach the beginning of the M57 Motorway; the majority of the time having been spent in the queue in Aintree Lane leading to the traffic lights where I turn right into the Ormskirk Road – it’s a 4-phase junction which holds up the traffic severely on days like these.

I keep to the right-hand lane, knowing I need to turn right again at the traffic lights where I cross onto the A5036; the tailback here was no worse than on the previous evening.  When the lights changed to green, the two cars immediately in front of me took rather a wide berth, almost missing their intended route to join the M57; admittedly, this junction must be one of the strangest I’ve ever encountered, with the A59 and the M58 joining at right-angles to the M57 – both motorways terminating here.  It has been noted that Merseyside love traffic lights, rather than roundabouts!  The point in case being that the junction appears to have gone through a transformation at some point, having once been a very large roundabout! 

Through two additional sets of traffic signals, a final right-turn took me onto the M57 southbound carriageway; it was 19:25.  I travelled in the inside lane until its junction with the A580, where that particular lane leads off down the slip-road.  A few miles further on I joined the M62 eastbound carriageway and headed towards its junction with the M6. 

Having been in Merseyside for three days this year, rather than the usual two, I felt it sensible to top up the petrol tank prior to my 200-mile journey home.  And where else would I choose but the Burtonwood Services as, strangely, I know it quite well ... apart from my lapse on Thursday morning but I put that down to very poor signposting on the M62!  It cost over £17 today, so I’d used quite a lot of fuel during my visit to the area; it had cost me less than £25 to top-up on Thursday following my trip up!  It must have been all those queues and traffic light junctions I’d encountered – my hotel being 3 or 4 miles east of the M6 – a 30-minute drive from the racecourse.

I was soon on my way again, joining the M6 at Junction 21A and heading southbound.  There were a number of road-works encountered on my return journey.  The first being a contra-flow system on the Thelwall Viaduct which spans the Mersey and the Manchester Ship Canal; the bridge joints were under repair.  The viaduct actually consists of two bridges, the one carrying the northbound carriageway which was opened in 1963, and a second carrying the southbound carriageway which was completed in 1995.  

I was now counting down the junctions to Birmingham; I always think that return journeys seem shorter than outward journeys although, of course, they’re not.  But today it seemed to take ages to reach the Stoke junction (15); having surprised me how quickly I’d reached the M62 from Stoke in the other direction on Thursday morning. 

One thing that drives me crazy on the motorway’s southbound carriageway at this time of the evening is the ‘distance’ chevrons.  They appear for a stretch before the Stoke turning and there is another section further on too.  I find them mesmerising and they actually make me want to drive closer to the vehicle in front rather than keeping to my usual sensible distance because I want to see them as little as possible; the only way I can do that is to move closer!  They are totally pointless.

There were further road-works just south of Stoke and a long section prior to the beginning of the Toll Road which carried on along the non-Toll motorway to past the Hilton Services.  On principle, I refuse to pay a toll to drive on the motorway – I pay my road tax so why should I pay extra?  The weekend reduction in the toll was definitely not enough to tempt me.

Much of the motorway through Birmingham had been resurfaced since last year, nor I didn’t encounter any wayward cones on the section of motorway as it heads downhill to merge with the Toll Road.  Unlike last year when I’d actually run over one!  The section between Birmingham and the M1 didn’t seem as bad this year either; as I often struggle with the darkness here.  That doesn’t fill you with confidence does it?

The M1 Junction 19 improvement scheme is currently underway; it started in January this year and will not be completed until the Autumn of 2016.  Two new bridges are to be constructed, with an aim of properly linking up the A14 at the junction too; the A14 passes Huntingdon racecourse as it travels further east.  The noticeable difference here at present is the realigned slip-road leading from the M6 eastbound carriageway onto the southbound carriageway of the M1.  I wouldn’t have minded being a construction engineer in a different life ... I used to love Lego!  Or an architect!

There were a few further occurrences of very minor road-works on the M1 as I travelled south.  Junction 12 onwards is very familiar territory, as the Toddington turning is the one I use if visiting my younger brother.  The slip-roads here have been reconfigured just a few years ago; they now consist of very sharp bends, which I hate. 

Wherever possible I prefer to return via the same route as the outbound journey, or at least I do when I near home.  I’m a bit superstitious like that.  This being the case, I left the M1 at Junction 9, travelling around the Redbourn bypass, through Harpenden’s Hatching Green and back via the A1081.  Having then joined the St Albans ring-road I arrived home at 22:45.  

I had a snack before bedtime and, despite being tired following my trip, I also logged on to my laptop in order to save any relevant news links from the ATR website in preparation for writing my post-Aintree blog the following day.  I turned in at gone midnight but still rose before 07:00 on Sunday.  I uploaded my photographs, tweeted a few, before walking down the road to buy a copy of the Racing Post. 

Upon returning home I wrote my catch-up blog; this task took well into the evening.  It didn’t help that my printer was being temperamental for much of the day; it worked first thing in the morning, but around 90 minutes from start-up my PC turned itself off because it was too hot … after which I didn’t experience any further trouble with the computer but got absolutely no response from printer for the remainder of the day.  Very frustrating, as I wished to print out the race results for the past three days as it would have speeded up my diary blog catch-up no end.

I unpacked before I went to bed on Sunday.  Back to work on Monday and feeling like I needed a holiday to recover from my holiday!!! 

Also, by Monday, I had the Coral ‘advert’ theme playing over and over again in my head; how annoying!

Click here for photos Parade of Champions

Click here for photos Race 1

Click here for photos Race 2

Click here for photos Race 3

Click here for photos Race 4

Click here for photos Race 5 Part I

Click here for photos Race 5 Part II

Click here for photos Race 6

Click here for photos Race 7

Click here for photos Pineau De Re after the races

 

JOCKEYS TABLE

 

TRAINERS TABLE

 

1st

2nd

3rd

4th

 

 

1st

2nd

3rd

4th

Barry Geraghty

4

1

0

1

 

Nicky Henderson

4

1

1

0

AP McCoy

3

3

6

0

 

Alan King

3

1

1

2

Sam Twiston-Davies

2

2

1

1

 

Paul Nicholls

2

2

1

2

Wayne Hutchinson

2

0

0

0

 

Nigel Twiston-Davies

2

2

0

1

Tom Scudamore

1

1

4

1

 

Willie Mullins

2

0

0

0

Noel Fehily

1

1

2

1

 

David Pipe

1

1

3

1

Choc Thornton

1

1

1

2

 

Philip Hobbs

1

1

0

1

Richard Johnson

1

1

1

1

 

Jonjo O’Neill

1

0

2

0

Paul Townend

1

0

2

0

 

Tom George

1

0

0

0

Paddy Brennan

1

0

0

1

 

Dessie Hughes

1

0

0

0

Leighton Aspell

1

0

0

0

 

Donald McCain

1

0

0

0

Paul Carberry

1

0

0

0

 

Dr Richard Newland

1

0

0

0

Sam Waley-Cohen

1

0

0

0

 

Evan Williams

1

0

0

0

Adam Wedge

1

0

0

0

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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