DIARY Ė AINTREE FESTIVAL
GRAND NATIONAL DAY
SATURDAY 08 APRIL 2017
The Ďfortunateí winner of the Maghull Novices Chase,
San Benedeto, trained by Paul Nicholls
and ridden by Nick Scholfield
I was up at 06:00, after which I showered and washed my hair before going to breakfast with Sandra at 07:15.† It was a full English breakfast once again, with three rashers of bacon, 2 fried eggs, a pork sausage, mushrooms and two half fried tomatoes.† Plus three yoghurts Ė peach and apricot, strawberry and plain.† Plus, I think, one croissant.†
Todayís outfit was a black thermal T-shirt, a purple thermal T-shirt, turquoise button to the neck BHS cardigan, bright purple fleece, purple tights, black/purple/turquoise M & S Limited Edition skirt, black Hotter ĎDanielleí boot-shoes, mauve Per Una raincoat, multi-coloured River Island scarf, turquoise beaded leaf pendant.† I carried my scarf and fleece in my bag.†
M&S Black/purple/turquoise skirt
Mauve Per Una Raincoat
Bright-blue BHS cardigan
Bright purple M&S fleece
Thermal T-shirts Ė black and purple
(far left and far right)
Hotter footwear Ė
Danielle boot-shoes (centre)
Turquoise leaf necklace
River Island scarf (centre) ...
but I took it off mid-morning
and got sunburnt!
I put on my make-up when I returned to my room.† We left for Aintree at 09:20 today, arriving at around 09:50.†
There was a longer queue to enter the Steeplechase car park than on the previous two days and my carís cooling fan even came on too, a couple of times, whilst we were awaiting our turn for the vehicle to be searched by security.† Iíd also noticed the fan noise when I was queuing in a traffic jam through Prestbury during the Cheltenham Festival.† In fact Iím becoming so paranoid, that I even think the noise from helicopters flying overhead is related to a problem with my car!††
Anyway, I finally reached the front of the queue and was 100% confident that the bonnet would close today following the security search, because the rubber stoppers set into the metal frame had been removed on Thursday morning and had not yet been replaced.† But just how wrong could I be?† I tried a number of times to close it but without success.† As I now remain calm in the face of this regular bonnet issue, I decided to close the bonnet but leave it unsecured, and we drove along the driveway to park near the rear thereof.†
A number of additional attempts followed to close it, both by me and Sandra, but it still refused to lock down.† We gave up; fortunately Iíd placed a packet of Carex cleaning wipes in one of the outside pockets of my Kipling bag, so we used these to clean the dirt and oil off our hands before putting on our coats.†
The design of the 2008 model Fiestaís bonnet locking mechanism is such that itís not particularly obvious when itís unsecured; the only tell-tale sign is the Ďtongueí which sticks out around two inches.† But, as they say, a blind man would be glad to see it!† Anyway, I had a plan B Ė if the bonnet still wouldnít lock down when I returned to my car, Iíd exit the racecourse at the expected snailís pace after racing and park up in one of the local roads before calling the RAC.† However, I also had a strong suspicion that the bonnet would close once the engine and housing had experienced the opportunity to cool down during the day!†††††
We entered the grounds at 10:40, purchased our race-cards and bottles of water before heading immediately to our favourite spot beside the exit/entry horse walkway.† One or the other of us remained in this location throughout the entire day, until after the Grand National winner had paraded on course at the end of the day in fact; we werenít giving up our position to anyone!†
Toni, from my employerís Liverpool branch, was making her first visit to the Grand National today but I couldnít even meet up with her because I was rooted to the spot!† I did, however, pass on my Grand National tip to her a couple of days previously Ė namely One For Arthur.††
As we had been unable to pay a visit to the Parade Ring ahead of racing due to our keenness to reserve our place, we missed the Parade of Champions therein.† However, the horses were paraded along the home straight in front of the main grandstands a short while later.† There were just 10 horses this year, as a number had passed away during the previous 12 months, and three were too old to travel over from Ireland.†
The non-travellers were Papillon (2000), Montyís Pass (2003) and Numbersixvalverde (2006).† Mon Mome (2009) was unable to attend because he was recovering from a minor injury sustained in his field.† Sadly five had passed away since the previous year, namely Rough Quest (1996), Lord Gyllene (1997), Red Marauder (2001), Comply Or Die (2008) and the much missed Many Clouds (2015).† †
But the good news was that Bindaree (2002), Amberleigh House (2004), Hedgehunter (2005), Silver Birch (2007), Donít Push It (2010), Ballabriggs (2011), Neptune Collonges (2012), Auroras Encore (2013), Pineau De Re (2014) and Rule The World (2016) were still alive and kicking and able to attend on 08 April 2017.†
But the number of living Grand National winners further reduced when Amberleigh House passed away on 27 April 2017 aged 25; he succumbed to a bout of colic.† In addition, on 03 May 2017, it was announced that Papillon had died too; he was 26. †RIP
There were numerous comings and goings whilst we waited for the racing to commence; this included trainer Noel Williams and his wife Clare who arrived within the Earl Of Derby enclosure but seemed unsure about where they needed to be.† They had a runner in the first race, namely Briery Queen.† I didnít say hello, as they might have thought Ďwho is this strange woman who seems to know usí; itís difficult when you meet people out of context, so to speak.† A stable visit would be a far more familiar setting!†
Mind you, come to think of it, Iím probably quite memorable due to my grey hair ... besides, the receptionist at the Premier Inn always remembers me despite just the April visit each year!
Anyway, the off time of the first race was 13:45.†
The favourite for this race was No Hassle Hoff, trained by Dan Skelton and ridden by Harry Skelton; price 4-1.†
I had two runners of interest in this one, namely Briery Queen trained by Noel Williams and ridden by Leighton Aspell, and The Tourard Man trained by Alan King and ridden by Kevin Dowling.† I also had my only flutter of the Festival upon the latter Ė his price today was 25-1, not the 66-1 heíd been at Cheltenham when finishing 4th in the Pertemps Final.
Three of the runners were owned by JP McManus, namely For Good Measure, No Comment and Forthefunofit.†
The favourite was a little bit spooky as he trotted through the corrals immediately outside of the exit gateway and Harry Skelton kept him at a contained pace until he reached the sanded gallop to the inside of the course and was able to then break into a canter to head down to the starting gate.
There was a member of the ground-staff standing close to the gallop; he was holding a big arrow sign to direct the participants through a gap in the railings situated to the landing side of the final Grand National fence.† The competitors would gather upon the steeplechase tracks to have their girths checked ahead of the race.
The second favourite, No Comment, was the final horse to join the group as they congregated in preparation for the off.††
The 22 horses jogged away from the starting gate before wheeling around to head back; it was civilised and then they were off, at the first time of asking.
There was a cheer from the crowd as the runners set off towards the first flight, led by Fountains Windfall.† Also prominent was the mare Morello Royale, the nose-banded Mr McGo, the cheek-pieced Forthefunofit, also Rons Dream.† All of the competitors negotiated the first successfully although, at the rear of the field, Briery Queen made an error.
Heading down to the winning post on the first occasion, Whataknight came through against the inside rail to take up the running.† No Comment and Joe Farrell brought up the rear as they headed around the grandstand bend before entering the back straight on the first occasion. Fountains Windfall had moved on by three lengths as the runners approached the next flight. Whataknight wasnít particular fluent at this one. Towards the rear of the field, Zarkandar was awkward too; he might have been short of room.
Fountains Windfall continued to lead as the runners headed to the next, with Whataknight, Rons Dream, Forthefunofit and Mr McGo line across the track and leading the main group.† Those to the fore of midfield included Splash Of Ginge, Dadsintrouble and Golden Doyen.† Splash Of Ginge was less than fluent here, and this had a knock-on effect upon Duke Street.
The field then headed across the sanded pathway which leads to the Steeplechase car park, before reaching and negotiating the fourth flight successfully.† There was no change at the head of affairs as the runners entered the far turn, Fountains Windfall was still clear of his rivals, and followed by Rons Dream, Forthefunofit, Mr McGo, Dadsintrouble and Whataknight.† To the outside of the runners, nearer last than first, Holywell received a reminder.
Having entered the home straight, the competitors fanned out in order to get a clear view of the fifth flight.† Once again they were all safely over.† Fountains Windfall wasnít quite so far ahead of his rivals now, but he continued to spearhead the field as they travelled to the next flight; there were no jumping issues as the runners cleared it.† The field remained as one on the journey to the seventh obstacle; the leader skipped over it, whereas at the rear of the field For Good Measure flattened it; a task for the fence crew to rectify before the runners returned.†
Thus Fountains Windfall led the runners by the main grandstands, from Rons Dream, Forthefunofit and Mr McGo.† They travelled ahead of Whataknight and Dadsintrouble; these were followed by Duke Street, Leoncavallo, No Hassle Hoff, Golden Doyen, Barney Dwan, Holywell, Desert Cry, Splash Of Ginge, Morello Royale, The Tourard Man, Briery Queen, Zarkandar, Doesyoudogbite, No Comment, Joe Farrell and For Good Measure.
There were no particular signs of distress as the 22 runners headed through the Grand National starting gate and out into the country for the final time.† David Noonanís mount continued to bowl along at the head of affairs as they jumped the next flight.† It now appeared to be crunch time for a number of his rivals, although not literally, as a handful of jockeys began to push their mounts along.† They continued to the next.† Holywell had been dropped from the pack as they headed safely over this one.† Jonjo OíNeillís son, who was riding him, decided to pull up his mount before the next.†
Meanwhile, Fountains Windfall had extended the lead over his rivals as they headed across the sanded pathway on their journey to four out.† Mr McGo hit this one, with Joe Farrell and Golden Doyen receiving reminders at the rear of the field, and Zarkandar struggling too.† In contrast Briery Queen had improved her position within runners.
And still the leader galloped on, with Mr McGo spearheading his rivals as they headed around the top bend.† Fountains Windfall was around 10 lengths clear as they entered the home straight and had quickly cleared three out.† Harry Skelton was in hot pursuit aboard No Hassle Hoff and had drawn alongside Mr McGo as they jumped it.† Meanwhile The Tourard Man was steered wide around the main group, hoping to raise a challenge.† Briery Queen was now under pressure to the rear of these.†
Fountains Windfall had soon reached two out and, although he was less than fluent here, he continued to lead his rivals on a merry dance as they endeavoured to catch him.† The hooded favourite was beginning to pick off rivals by this stage, and was now in sixth position; but it wasnít happening fast enough.†
The leader remained well clear as he hurdled over the final flight and appeared still to have plenty of running in him.† No Comment, No Hassle Hoff and Dadsintrouble jumped it upsides; the favourite bunny-hopped it.†
In fact Fountains Windfall continued to gallop on strongly and he did so all the way to the line; he won by eight lengths.† No Comment triumphed in the battle for the runner-up spot, and he beat Dadsintrouble by half a length, with No Hassle Hoff four lengths back in 4th position.† It was nine lengths back to Forthefunofit, which beat Whataknight by a neck; Barney Dwan was three-quarters of a length away in 7th, and The Tourard Man a nose back in 8th.
Briery Queen completed in 17th place, having weakened after two out; this was her first time over 3 miles.† Twenty-one finished, with Zarkandar 20th and Splash Of Ginge the last to cross the line.† †
We remained beside the walkway exit gate following completion of the race.†
The Stewards held an adjourned enquiry into the start of Race 6 The Randox Health Foxhunters' Open Hunters' Chase on 6 April 2017 following a report from the Starter that Ms K. Walsh had cantered in. Having heard her evidence and viewed recordings of the start the Stewards found Ms K. Walsh in breach of Rule (D)44.4 and suspended her for 1 day as follows: Saturday 22 April 2017.
Race 1 - 1:45pm
THE GASKELLS HANDICAP HURDLE RACE (CLASS 1) (Grade 3)
The Stewards noted that RONS DREAM, trained by Peter Bowen, would wear a hood in the Parade Ring.
The Veterinary Officer reported that a post-race examination of SPLASH OF GINGE, unplaced, trained by Nigel Twiston-Davies, found it to have lost its left hind shoe.
The Veterinary Officer reported that a post-race examination of LEONCAVALLO (IRE), unplaced, trained by Ben Pauling, found it to have lost its left hind shoe.
The favourite for the next event was Finianís Rainbow, trained by Colin Tizzard and ridden by Robbie Power; price 3-1.† The favourite had missed his Cheltenham Festival date due to having pus in one of his feet.†
There was a runner of interest in this race, namely Messire Des Obeaux trained by Alan King and ridden by Daryl Jacob.†
There was one grey in this race, the Paul Nicholls-trained Brio Conti.† The remainder were all bay, apart from the chestnut Le Breuil.
Having had their girths checked, the majority of runners formed into a group although, at one point, Lough Derg Spirit decided to slip off into a canter before Nico de Boinville got him under control once more.† He subsequently slotted in at the front of the group as they walked towards the starting gate; Messire Des Obeaux was now the keenest as he bounded along to the inside just before the off.
The runners skirted around the outside of the first hurdle in the back straight and then they were off at the first time of asking.† The field was led away by the Gigginstown runner, Bel Ami De Sivola; his wingmen were, to the inside Lough Derg Spirit and to the outer Le Breuil.† Benatar was the backmarker as they jumped the first flight.
The horses headed over the sanded track on their way to the next, with Lough Derg Spirit going on as they cleared this flight and he led the thirteen competitors into the first turn, from Bel Ami De Sivola, Le Breuil, Brio Conti to the outside of Messire Des Obeaux, Reivers Lad, Chelsea Flyer, Cultivator, Finianís Oscar, Bordeaux Bill, Benatar, Captain Forez and La Bague Au Roi.
Having travelled across the top of the racecourse, the runners then entered the home straight on the first occasion.† Lough Derg Spirit led narrowly as the field headed over the first flight therein; the pace was steady as they continued to the fourth.† All of the runners cleared this without incident, although Reivers Lad was pushed along for a couple of strides following it.† They moved on down the straight towards the fifth flight; Captain Forez, which sported the well-known yellow and red silks of owner John Hales, brought up the rear.† The favourite jumped out slightly to his right over this one.
Lough Derg Spirit continued to lead the way as the runners headed down past the winning post with one circuit now to travel.† Bordeaux Bill was pushed out rather wide as they turned the grandstand corner.† The horses headed beneath the Grand National starting gate and into the back straight for the final time.† The pace quickened as they headed towards the sixth flight.
The leader put in an untidy leap at the obstacle; at the rear of the field, Captain Forez blundered badly.† Bel Ami De Sivola now took a narrow lead.† Despite the error at the previous flight, the Skeltonís runner began to improve through the field; La Bague Au Roi made an error at this one and she was now travelling at the rear of the pack.
The runners headed across the sanded track, with Reivers Lad presently struggling to go the pace; La Bague Au Roi made a further mistake at the final flight in the back straight.† Two more came under pressure as they headed into the far bend; Bordeaux Bill and Le Breuil.† The latter was at the rear of the field as they journeyed across the top of the racecourse; there were reminders for Bordeaux Bill.
Meanwhile, Messire Des Obeaux eased through a gap against the rails and took the lead as they headed into the home straight.† Lough Derg Spirit was being pushed along in second position, with Cultivator and Finianís Oscar now poised to make their challenges.† Having lost touch with their rivals, Bordeaux Bill and Le Breuil were pulled up before the next.
Messire Des Obeaux held the lead as they headed over the third last, with Finianís Oscar soon his closest pursuer; although on the outside of runners Brio Conti appeared to be travelling better than both of them at this stage. †Soon after jumping the penultimate flight, the favourite took the lead; Brio Conti was now under pressure.† Robbie Power and Daryl Jacob reached for their whips as they headed down towards the final hurdle and the Potts-owned runner soon gained the upper hand; the favourite was over a length up as he cleared it.†† Meanwhile, Captain Forez continued to stay on and had soon collared the Alan King runner too.†
With all of the jumping questions completed, it was left to Finianís Oscar to pull away from his rivals and he galloped away to win by three lengths at the line.† Captain Forez finished 2nd; he completed 3ľ lengths ahead of Messire Des Obeaux.† Benatar claimed 4th.†
Eight horses completed, Cultivator being the final one to cross the line.† Bel Ami De Sivola, Lough Derg Spirit and Reivers Lad having been pulled up before the final flight.†
It was further success for trainer Colin Tizzard, jockey Robbie Power and owners The Potts.†
Colin hoped that Finianís Oscar would be a novice chaser next season; but it all depended upon the plans of the owner.† The horse cost £250,000 and remained unbeaten in 5 starts, including an initial point-to-point.
Alan King was hoping to send Messire Des Obeaux chasing but he picked up an injury during this race which put him on the sidelines for the 2017/2018 season.
Again we remained beside the course-side rails following the second race.† Whilst we were waiting for the next one, a posse of six Irish jockeys, including Ruby Walsh, Paul Townend and David Mullins, returned from walking the course; presumably the Grand National course that is.† I think another was Donagh Meyler.
Race 2 - 2:25pm
THE BETWAY MERSEY NOVICES' HURDLE RACE (CLASS 1) (Grade 1)
David Bass, the rider of LE BREUIL (FR), which pulled up, reported that the gelding stopped quickly. The Veterinary Officer reported that a post-race examination of LE BREUIL (FR) failed to reveal any abnormalities.
Nico de Boinville, the rider of LOUGH DERG SPIRIT (IRE), which pulled up, reported that the gelding hung right. The Stewards ordered LOUGH DERG SPIRIT (IRE) to be routine tested.
The favourite for the next was Charbel, trained by Kim Bailey and ridden by David Bass; price 6-5.† Connections were seeking compensation for their departure two out in this seasonís Arkle Challenge Trophy.† However, the trainer was concerned that the Aintree Mildmay park course was a tight track and his charge had not previously been suited by courses of this nature; big galloping tracks were preferred.
Two of the five runners were trained by Paul Nicholls Ė the sole grey Politologue and also San Benedeto.† The latter was aiming for a five-timer, the last of which was just 6 days ago at Ascot.
Forest Bihan had also run in the Arkle and Politologue in the JLT Novicesí Chase at the Cheltenham Festival. †
Douvan won this race in 2016.† Finianís Rainbow had won it, Sprinter Sacre too, also Special Tiara and the ill-fated Balder Succes.
The starting gate for this event was in the far corner of the track; the cross fence being the first obstacle.
Politologue was the last horse to leave the infield and he trotted and pranced his way to join his rivals, slotting in just behind Charbel.† And then they were off, with the Kim Bailey runner leading the way to the first; the cross-fence.† All five runners cleared this one well before heading around the turn and into the home straight for the first time.
Charbel increased his advantage as they headed to the next.† The leader jumped it well, with Forest Bihan giving it plenty of daylight, although he did jump out to his right.† The following fence was the first open ditch, with the mare Colla Pier having to reach in order to make the distance to the landing side.†
The runners journeyed across the Grand National course to get to the fourth fence, another plain one.† The leader held an advantage of four lengths over the hooded Politologue, followed by Forest Bihan, San Benedeto and Colla Pier.† They all jumped this well before heading down past the winning post and around the grandstand bend.†
Charbelís rivals were now a little closer as they entered the back straight and approached the fifth fence.† David Bass had to find a stride for his mount just prior to jumping it.† The runners continued to the next, another plain fence and, once again, the jockey looked for a stride upon the leader.†
The following fence was another open-ditch but on this occasion Charbel stuttered into the fence and hit it.† He lost his lead to Politologue as a result.† David Bass urged his mount forward as they headed across the sanded track and he gained ground once more.† However again, at the next, he wasnít fluent.†
The grey led the runners as they headed into the far turn, with Forest Bihan advancing into second position and San Benedeto now disputing third position with the favourite.† The next obstacle was the cross-fence; they all jumped this one well.† However, Charbel began to struggle as the leading three set sail for home; the outclassed Colla Pier remained at the back of the field.†
The grey got a little close to the third last but he continued out in front as they headed towards the final open-ditch.† Although under pressure, Charbel lost no further ground at this stage.† Having cleared the fence, Politologue was being pressed by both his stable-companion and by Forest Bihan.† The latter got on terms with his rival, although the grey fought back slightly and put in a far better leap at the last.
And, in the normal way of things, that would have been enough to seal the victory.† However, having landed safely and taken a couple of strides on the flat too, Politologue stumbled and fell.† Sam Twiston-Davies was thrown well clear by the momentum.†
This left Forest Bihan a couple of lengths ahead of San Benedeto as they headed to the line.† But that wasnít the end of it, as Nick Scholfield had never given up and his mount began to close the deficit all the way to the line.† It was a photo finish.
When the result was announced, it transpired that San Benedeto had won by a head.† Charbel had finished 13 lengths away in 3rd, with Colla Pier a further 18 lengths behind in 4th.† But the best sight of all was Politologue cantering loose past the winning line, none the worse for his accident.† Sam Twiston-Davies walked back in too; he looked flummoxed, as were we all.† Harry Derham, who is Paul Nichollsí nephew and Assistant Trainer too, was on hand to console the jockey. †Sportingly, Sam also shook hands with the winning rider out on the course.††
RUKís Paul Morrison, who had been standing near the offending fence, was under the impression that the Politologue had trodden on his own foot and thus tripped himself up.† Oops.† Anyway, viewed in slow motion, his near-hind definitely over-reached his near-fore shortly after landing and he was late in bringing through the latter; it didnít extend from the knee downwards as a result.† So, when his hindquarters subsequently propelled him forward, he literally didnít have a leg to stand on. †It was such a relief that the grey hadnít broken a leg as a result.† †††
Regardless, the stewards and ground staff were out on the course to check the landing side of the final fence, just in case the fall had been the result of a hole in the ground.† †
Yet again, Sandra and I remained at our Ďpostí following the race!
Race 3 - 3:00pm
THE DOOM BAR MAGHULL NOVICES' STEEPLE CHASE (CLASS 1) (Grade 1)
The Stewards considered the running of CHARBEL (IRE) ridden by David Bass and trained by Kim Bailey, which finished third of four finishers. The Stewards noted the trainerís explanation that the gelding made a mistake as the race was developing. They ordered CHARBEL (IRE) to be routine tested.
This year, the Listed Handicap Chase and the Liverpool Stayersí Hurdle swapped places on the card.†
Thus the favourite for this event was Potters Legend, trained by Lucy Wadham and ridden by Leighton Aspell; price 9-2.† There were no greys in this race.† I liked Emerging Force Ö because he is a pretty flashy bay!
The starting gate for this race was located at the far end of the home straight, with the aforementioned straight and two full circuits to travel.†
And then they were off, at the first time of asking.† The runners were spread wide across the course as they headed to the first fence.† Prominent were Lamb Or Cod, the now Irish-trained Ruben Cotter, followed by Smooth Stepper, Emerging Force, Sizing Codelco and Starchitect.† Potters Legend nodded slightly on landing over this one; Henri Parry Morgan was last of the 16 runners at this early stage of the race despite lining up ahead of a number of his rivals.
The second fence was the first of the open-ditches and again Potters Legend was slightly awkward at this one.† The runners headed across the Grand National circuit on their way to the third fence, with Lamb Or Cod, Ruben Cotter and Emerging Force disputing the lead.† Henri Parry Morgan made up ground upon his rivals at this point and overtook a number of them shortly after clearing the fence.†
Heading down past the winning post on the first occasion, Lamb Or Cod, Emerging Force, Sizing Codelco and I Just Know disputed the lead.† Just behind these were Ruben Cotter, Potters Legend, Value At Risk and Starchitect.† They were followed by Our Kaempfer, Knock House, then Full Cry, Rightdownthemiddle, Henri Parry Morgan, Relentless Dreamer, Takingrisks and Smooth Stepper.†
The runners headed under the Grand National starting gate and had soon entered the back straight; Emerging Force was the narrow leader as they jumped the first fence therein.† There were around 15 lengths covering the field as they continued to the fifth fence; Ruben Cotter was drifting back through runners and he got in a little bit close to this one.† Not happy with his mountís effort at the fence, Will Kennedy gave Knock House a back-hander.
The following fence was an open-ditch and Emerging Force out-jumped those around him.† In contrast, Our Kaempfer made a bad blunder here and birch flew; it was definitely a mending task for the fence attendants!† Meanwhile the runners headed over the sanded pathway on their way to the final obstacle in the back straight; Sizing Codelco was less than fluent here and Relentless Dreamer also.
Emerging Force held the advantage over I Just Know and Sizing Codelco as they headed into the far turn; they were followed by Lamb Or Cod and Starchitect.† There were no serious errors at the cross-fence and Takingrisks now brought up the rear.† One circuit now complete, Emerging Force and I Just Know led the runners into the home straight once more.†
With no departures thus far, the 16 horses continued over the next fence; near the rear of the field, Smooth Stepper was pushed along for a few strides having jumped it.† The following fence was an open-ditch; once again there were no problems here.† Emerging Force and I Just Know remained at the head of affairs as the field headed across the Grand National course towards the eleventh.† Again there were no serious jumping issues as they cleared it. Having commenced the race in a very handy position Ruben Cotter was now detached, one from the rear of the field, with solely Takingrisks behind him.
Smooth Stepper received reminders as the runners headed towards the grandstand turn, now just one further circuit to travel.† I Just Know took the advantage as they headed under the Grand National starting gate and into the back straight.† Meanwhile Takingrisks was pulled up and, shortly afterwards, Ruben Cotter too.
Having jumped the first fence in the back straight upsides the leader, Robbie Power permitted Sizing Codelco to stride on; this move was quickly covered by the jockeys aboard Starchitect and Potters Legend.† I Just Now and Emerging Force were being pushed along behind the leading trio as they continued to the next obstacle.† All the remaining runners cleared this without incident.† Value At Risk then began to improve along the inside rail as they headed towards the open-ditch; all bar the leading four appeared to be struggling by this stage, but they still managed to negotiate the fence without any serious issues.
The runners then continued across the sanded pathway and onwards to the fifth last.† Our Kaempfer made another howling error at this one and, shortly afterwards, Sam Twiston-Davies decided to pull him up.† The leading group soon consisted of Sizing Codelco, Starchitect, Potters Legend, Value At Risk and Rightdownthemiddle; after these were Emerging Force and Henri Parry Morgan.† Also still continuing were Knock House, I Just Know, Full Cry and Smooth Stepper.† Having lost touch completely, Lamb Or Cod and Relentless Dreamer were pulled up before the fence.
Having cleared the cross-fence, the Potts-owned runner continued to stride on in front as the remaining runners headed into the home straight for the final time.† However, he only held a narrow lead as they jumped the third last fence; despite him not making much of an error, spruce from the apron flew into the air.† The leading group continued towards the final open-ditch, with Rightdownthemiddle appearing now to be the main danger.†
The leading quintet cleared this fence without a problem; Sizing Codelco continued to hold the advantage.† Potters Legend was the first to drop away as they headed across the Grand National track, with Value At Risk soon fading too.† Meanwhile, the leaderís stamina had kicked-in and he drew well clear on the approach to the final fence.† With all of his rivals beaten off, the sole danger was the final obstacle.†
But Colin Tizzard-trained runner put in a mighty leap at this one and Robbie Power just needed to push his mount out as he headed down towards the winning post.† Sizing Codelco was eased close home but still won by 13 lengths!† Rightdownthemiddle, for Jack Kennedy and Gordon Elliot, completed as the runner-up, with Starchitect a further 8 lengths away in 3rd.† Potters Legend was 4th, Emerging Force 5th, Henri Parri Morgan 6th and, last of the finishers, was Value At Risk.†
Knock House and Full Cry had been pulled up before two out; I Just Now and Smooth Stepper likewise before 3 out.†
This was Colin Tizzardís fifth winner of the Aintree Festival Ė following on from Pingshou, Fox Norton, Ultragold and Finianís Oscar.† All bar Ultragold had been owned by the Potts.† †††
When interviewed, Robbie Power said the winner is a Ďcharacterí; he also described his mount as a coward, who needs his own space during a race, otherwise he will sulk!†
Again we remained beside the course-side rails following the race.
Race 4 - 3:40pm
The Stewards considered the apparent improvement in form of the winner, SIZING CODELCO (IRE), ridden by Robbie Power and trained by Colin Tizzard, compared with its previous run at Cheltenham on 16 March 2017 where the gelding finished fifteenth of twenty-four beaten by 51 lengths. They noted the trainerís representative could offer no explanation for the geldingís improved form other than their horses appear to have hit form. They ordered SIZING CODELCO (IRE) to be routine tested.
The Stewards noted that OUR KAEMPFER (IRE), trained by Charlie Longsdon, would wear earplugs which would be removed at the start.
The Veterinary Officer reported that a post-race examination of KNOCK HOUSE (IRE), which pulled up, trained by Donald McCain, found it to have bled from the nose.
The Veterinary Officer reported that a post-race examination of POTTERS LEGEND, placed fourth, trained by Lucy Wadham, found it to have lost its left hind shoe.
The Veterinary Officer reported that a post-race examination of RUBEN COTTER (IRE), which pulled up, trained by Mark McNiff, found it to have lost its right hind shoe.
The Veterinary Officer reported that a post-race examination of RELENTLESS DREAMER (IRE), which pulled up, trained by Rebecca Curtis, found it to have lost its right hind shoe.
The Veterinary Officer reported that a post-race examination of I JUST KNOW (IRE), which pulled up, trained by Sue Smith, during routine testing, found it to have twisted its left fore shoe.
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