DIARY – AINTREE FESTIVAL
GRAND NATIONAL DAY
SATURDAY 14 APRIL 2018
This year’s Grand National winner,
the Gordon Elliott-trained Tiger Roll,
ridden by Davy Russell
Click here to read my Grand National Day Diary Part I
The favourite for the next race was Sam Spinner, trained by Jedd O’Keeffe and ridden by Joe Colliver; price 6-5.
There were no greys in this race.
The start of this race was part way down the home straight, with one flight therein to jump and therefore just over 2 circuits to travel.
And then they were off, with Coole Cody leading the runners towards the first flight, from the favourite Sam Spinner; bringing up the rear at this earlier stage was Identity Thief. Having cleared the first obstacle in their stride, the field headed down past the winning post with two circuits ahead of them.
The leader, which was sporting a hood, was three lengths clear of his rivals as they travelled around the bottom bend; Sam Spinner led the remainder, from Lil Rockerfeller, Wholestone, Thomas Campbell, Old Guard, The Worlds End, Serienschock, Identity Thief and Shelford.
Having entered the back straight, the runners soon headed over the second flight; as would be expected from this calibre of competitor, they all jumped it well. The horses journeyed along the back straight with Coole Cody continuing to lead the way and Shelford remaining at the back of the field; the latter nodded slightly on landing over the third.
The runners crossed over the sanded track-way prior to jumping the fourth flight; Wholestone was slightly less fluent than his rivals at this one. Subsequently they headed into the far turn with no change at the head of affairs, although his advantage had been reduced to just a length at this point.
Coole Cody led the competitors into the home straight, from Sam Spinner, Lil Rockerfeller, Wholestone, Thomas Campbell, Old Guard, The Worlds End, Serienschock, Identity Thief and Shelford. The favourite jumped the next flight a little untidily, with jockey Joe Colliver subsequently reorganising his reins. Lil Rockerfeller was pushed along briefly following the flight also.
The runners continued their journey to the sixth flight, with Sean Flanagan redirecting Identity Thief after the obstacle because The Worlds End briefly took his ground. The field had now completed one circuit. The following hurdle would be the final obstacle on the next circuit; once again Sam Spinner was a little awkward here, having jinked slightly and gone up in the air in order to avoid contact with the flight.
Coole Cody retained the advantage as the competitors headed down past the winning post, now with one circuit to travel. Lil Rockerfeller was struggling to retain his position as the horses travelled around the bottom bend; jockey Trevor Whelan bumping up and down in the saddle at least thirty times. I don’t like to see jockeys doing this, as there is a school of thought that this can inflict damage to a horse’s spine in the long term.
There was no change at the head of affairs as the runners entered the back straight; Sam Spinner continued to hold second position, from Wholestone, Lil Rockerfeller, Thomas Campbell, Old Guard, The Worlds End, Serienschock, Identity Thief and Shelford. The runners cleared the first flight therein without incident.
Having retained his position initially, and with the pace increasing, Lil Rockerfeller now came under pressure once more; he didn’t jump the next flight particularly well and received a couple of reminders for his trouble. Sam Spinner was almost eye-balling the long-time leader as the field headed across the sanded track-way on their way to four out; Coole Cody bunny-hopped this one and Lil Rockerfeller had dropped back through the field.
The favourite held a narrow advantage as the runners headed into the far turn, from Coole Cody, Wholestone and the improved The Worlds End. Also in the leading group were Old Guard and Identity Thief; Serienschock led the remainder.
Coole Cody soon gave way and dropped back through the field; Sam Spinner continued to lead and he was being pressed by The Worlds End and Wholestone. Daryl Jacob, aboard the latter, glanced briefly over his right shoulder to check on the opposition as they travelled across the top of the course.
The runners entered the home straight led by Sam Spinner; Wholestone, The Worlds End and Identity Thief made up the leading group of four, with their nearest pursuers being the ridden-along Old Guard and the improving Serienschock, followed by Shelford. The favourite held a narrow advantage as they cleared three out but was joined by his rivals shortly afterwards. Lil Rockerfeller, Coole Cody and Thomas Campbell were all pulled up before this flight.
The leaders continued their journey towards two out, with Wholestone and Identity Thief jumping it in unison, marginally ahead of both Sam Spinner and The Worlds End. Running down to the final flight, the latter was the first beaten and dropped away; Sam Spinner did so latterly, leaving Identity Thief and Wholestone locked in battle briefly before the Irish raider got the upper hand.
Identity Thief was more than a length up as they cleared the final flight and, once on the run-in he continued to stay-on well, drawing away to win by 5 lengths at the line from the Nigel Twiston-Davies-trained runner. Sam Spinner, who’d made an error at the last, completed 10 lengths further back in 3rd. Having weakened latterly, The Worlds End managed to hold off the challenge of Serienschock to claim 4th-place by a neck. Shelford completed in 6th and Old Guard 7th, the remainder having been pulled up.
It had been a successful step-up in trip, which had been suggested by jockey Sean Flanagan, following the horse’s 4th place in this season’s Champion Hurdle. Wholestone is a perpetual runner-up or worse … always running well but rarely winning!
Being the Ryanair Stayers’ Hurdle, the sponsor Dreary O’Leary had won his own race.
As the Grand National runners were now preparing to enter the Parade Ring, the placed horses from the Liverpool Hurdle were led back to the stable yard via the walkway beside us.
We were also able to defend our position at the corner of the Earl of Derby enclosure next to said walkway ahead of the big event ... although it does get a little scary at times with people trying to muscle in!
5 - 4:20pm
Following the race, Nico de Boinville reported that THOMAS CAMPBELL, which was pulled up, stopped quickly and the Veterinary Officer reported that a post-race examination of gelding failed to reveal any abnormalities. Trevor Whelan reported that LIL ROCKERFELLER (USA), which was pulled up, was never travelling and the Veterinary Officer reported that a post-race examination of the gelding failed to reveal any abnormalities. Harry Cobden reported that OLD GUARD, placed seventh, was never travelling and the Veterinary Officer reported that a post-race examination of the gelding during routine testing failed to reveal any abnormalities. The Veterinary Officer also reported that SHELFORD (IRE), placed sixth, was suffering from post-race heat stress.
It was eventually time for the feature event, the 2018 Grand National.
As has happened recently, and to lessen the stress upon the competitors, the horses were paraded in the same order in which they exited onto the racecourse.
There were 38 runners going to post for this year’s feature race. The first reserve, Road To Riches, had got into the race on Thursday following a withdrawal. Then on Friday, Thunder And Roses, Delusionsofgrandeur, and Walk In the Mill became participants. However, the field was reduced to 38 on Saturday, with Regal Encore now a non-runner, as was the final reserve Walk In The Mill. One of the withdrawals had been the top-weight Minella Rocco, so all of the weights had to rise by one pound, thus making Blaklion the new top weight.
There were 16 Irish runners in the field; that’s 42%. Five of the runners were owned by Michael O’Leary, that’s 13%. The oldest horses in the race were Bless The Wings and Raz De Maree; both aged 13. Bless The Wings used to be trained by Alan King and was now trained by Gordon Elliott. Raz De Maree had won this season’s Welsh Grand National. JP McManus had three runners remaining in the race – Anibale Fly, Carlingford Lough and Pendra.
I decided to place each-way bets on Shantou Flyer and Warriors Tale. The latter was bred by Alan King and is trained by Paul Nicholls; the horse had been purchased by Trevor Hemmings recently. Shantou Flyer’s price was 20-1 and Warriors Tale 33-1.
The favourite was Total Recall at 7-1; trained by Willie Mullins and ridden by Paul Townend. He may have won the Ladbrokes Trophy (formerly the Hennessy Gold Cup) in early December, but he’s a dodgy jumper!
Adrian Heskin had broken his arm when falling aboard Rocklander during race 4; he was replaced aboard Aintree stalwart Saint Are, by Ciaran Gethings. Surprisingly, Richard Johnson didn’t have a ride in this year’s race!
There was just one grey in the race, namely the mare Baie Des Iles ridden by Katie Walsh and trained by her husband Ross O’Sullivan.
Having reached the far end of the parading area, the runners then cantered across the track, through the gap at the elbow before continuing upon the Mildmay chase track around the bottom bend; the jockeys then took their mounts to look at the first fence before returning to the starting gate.
Having had their girths checked, the runners were sent back in the direction of The Chair before returning towards the starting gate.
And then they were off at the first time of asking; it having been a totally organised rolling start. The first ones to show heading across the Melling Road on their journey to the first fence were Ucello Conti, Double Ross, Thunder And Roses and Perfect Candidate; also prominent were Blaklion, Raz De Maree, Final Nudge and Milansbar.
Coming through to lead as they jumped the first was I Just Know; Milansbar over-jumped here but survived. In contrast, there were two departures; Perfect Candidate fell, bringing down Becher Chase winner and last year’s 4th-placed horse Blaklion in the process; he was carrying top weight today. In other words, trainer Fergal O’Brien took out his neighbour Nigel Twiston-Davies’ runner! Anibale Fly, Carlingford Lough and Virgilio were all hampered and Total Recall, not renowned for his jumping skills, hit this one but the partnership remained intact.
With 36 runners now remaining, the field headed on towards the second fence. There were no departures at this obstacle and the horses continued to the first of the open-ditches, known as ‘Westhead’. I Just Know spearheaded the field from, spread across the course, Double Ross, Saint Are, Captain Redbeard, Thunder And Roses and Milansbar.
Total Recall made a shocking blunder at this one; the horse lost his hind-legs on landing and jockey Paul Townend briefly ended up with his arms around his mount’s neck … but they survived despite losing a number of places as a result. Currently amongst the backmarkers were Maggio, Chase The Spud, the grey mare Baie Des Iles and the previously hampered Carlingford Lough.
With 36 still in the running, the field headed to fence number four. The highly experienced Saint Are got too close to this one and almost unseated Ciaran Gethings; he also briefly ended up with his arms around his mount’s neck! Moving on, Danny Cook’s mount continued to spearhead the field, from Milansbar to the outside and Double Ross to the inner. There were no noticeable errors to report at the fifth obstacle.
The Last Samuri, runner-up in 2016, was very much towards the rear of the field as the horses headed towards the sixth fence; Becher’s Brook. I Just Know took off in the lead but hit the fence, skewing in the air and falling as a result. The horse was quickly to his feet, and those behind him managed to take evasive action. Within the second half of the field, Houblon Des Obeaux landed too steeply and fell; Virgilio crumpled on landing and was out of the race too. The Last Samurai was severely hampered by Houblon Des Obeaux’s departure, firstly having to avoid the horse which he did, but he then kicked the prostrate Charlie Deutsch; ouch! All three horses appeared okay and galloped after the others; this left 33 runners still standing.
Having lost his place amongst the early leaders, Captain Redbeard hit the small Fionavon fence and unseated Sam Coltherd as a result. Last of those still going as they headed towards the Canal Turn was Fergal O’Brien’s Chase The Spud. The initial leader having departed, Aintree stalwarts Ucello Conti and Double Ross now led the way; from The Dutchman, Milansbar, Pleasant Company and Valseur Lido.
Saint Are made another error here, Buywise was badly squeezed up and unseated as a result; Final Nudge came down having been short of room too. Lord Windermere lost his rider; he’d been badly hampered. This left 29 runners heading for Valentine’s Brook.
The field was well stretched out by this stage, with Ucello Conti leading over this fence, from Double Ross, Valseur Lido, Milansbar, Pleasant Company, Seeyouatmidnight and The Dutchman. There were no departures here, although Total Recall made another error!
The runners continued to the next, a plain fence, where Valseur Lido nodded on landing. Next up was the eleventh, an open-ditch; to the back of the main group, Tenor Nivernais made an error, with jockey Tom O’Brien being thrown forward as a result. The following fence was a plain one, with no departures or serious errors to report.
Thus there remained 29 horses in the race as the runners headed back across the Melling Road, led by Ucello Conti and Double Ross. The Dutchman and Milansbar disputed third position, from Valseur Lido, Pleasant Company and Seeyouatmidnight. Behind these travelled Alpha Des Obeaux, Anibale Fly, Warriors Tale, Bless The Wings, Tiger Roll and Childrens List.
Having completed the long run to the thirteenth fence, all of the runners cleared this safely. With Daryl Jacob’s mount continuing to lead the way, the competitors headed towards and over the next fence; meanwhile at the back of the field, travelled Chase The Spud, Delusionofgrandeur and Maggio. Paddy Brennan decided to call it a day aboard Chase The Spud having jumped it.
Twenty-eight horses remained in the race as they made their way to The Chair; two of the loose horses went around the elbow and headed down the home straight, thus negating any trouble which might have been caused had they continued in the race. Ucello Conti, Pleasant Company and Double Ross negotiated the 5 foot 2 inches fence without any trouble, whereas Alpha Des Obeaux went straight through the top of it and fell. Those in behind managed to take evasive action whilst the horse was on the floor although Warriors Tale was hampered; however, once Alpha Des Obeaux had got to his feet, Saint Are cannoned into him bringing the latter down and knocking the Gigginstown-runner off his legs once more. Both horses got to their feet and moved off following the incident.
The following fence was the water-jump. Having negotiated the obstacle successfully, it left 26 competitors to head around the bottom bend with one more circuit to travel.
Ucello Conti continued to lead the way, from Pleasant Company, The Dutchman, Double Ross, Milansbar, Valseur Lido, Seeyouatmidnight, Tiger Roll, Bless The Wings, Childrens List, Anible Fly, Warriors Tale, Tenor Nivernais, Gas Line Boy, Shantou Flyer, Baie De Iles, Road To Riches, Total Recall, Pendra, Carlingford Lough, Vieux Lion Rouge, Thunder And Roses, Raz De Maree, The Last Samuri, Maggio and Delusionofgrandeur; the latter called it a day at this point, easing down to a canter, trot, then walk.
The remainder continued across the Melling Road on their way to the seventeenth fence. The runners were spread wide across the course with Pleasant Company and Ucello Conti jumping it in unison. Thunder And Roses made an error here, with jockey JJ Slevin half-heartedly calling a cab! Completely tailed off and reluctant to continue despite receiving reminders, Maggio was pulled up by Brendan Powell Junior having jumped the fence.
Pleasant Company held a very narrow advantage as the competitors headed over the next fence; Thunder And Roses now brought up the rear. The following fence was the open-ditch; identified as ‘Westhead’. The leader had plenty of energy in reserve, as he flew over this fence barely touching a twig. Tiger Roll’s jockey lost his left iron at this point, his leg having dragged through against a stray branch of spruce; Davy Russell quickly regained it however. At the rear of the field, Thunder And Roses veered across to his left in order to safely negotiate the obstacle.
David Mullins’ mount continued to hold the advantage as they crossed the fourth in this line of fences, from Ucello Conti, Double Ross, Milansbar and Seeyouatmidnight. Having spotted the chequered warning flags, the jockeys began to angle their horses away from the inside rail as they neared the one before Becher’s; apart from Total Recall’s jockey who seemed a little bit slow on the uptake! Pleasant Company jumped this one ahead of Seeyouatmidnight; the latter hit this one slightly.
Having reported that all three fallen horses were up okay having departed on the previous circuit, it soon became apparent that the injured party was, in fact, jockey Charlie Deutsch; he was receiving treatment behind green screens on the landing side of the fence. Meanwhile jockey Danny Cook, who’d fallen aboard I Just Know on the previous circuit, stood in front of Becher’s and directed the jockeys around it … although the stewards weren’t particularly impressed by this action. One rule for Ruby Walsh during a previous Grand National and one for Danny Cook it would seem …
Pleasant Company spearheaded the runners as they bypassed the famous fence, from Ucello Conti, Milansbar, Seeyouatmidnight, Double Ross, Valseur Lido, Childrens List, Tiger Roll, The Dutchman, Warriors Tale, Bless The Wings, Anibale Fly, Gas Line Boy, Baie Des Iles, Vieux Lion Rouge, Tenor Nivernais, Road To Riches, Total Recall, Pendra, a loose horse, Shantou Flyer, Raz De Maree, Carlingford Lough, The Last Samuri and, finally, Thunder And Roses; making 24 in total.
The next fence was Fionavon, where Harry Cobden was catapulted out of The Dutchman’s saddle as they jumped it. The horses angled out once more on the approach to the Canal Turn, before swinging back towards the corner of the fence; the inside rail encourages this, breaking off a few strides before it. The leader jumped this in fine fashion, whereas Ucello Conti got too close and made a bad blunder, but survived. Baie Des Iles also made a slight mistake here.
Twenty three competitors were still going as the field headed back towards Valentine’s Brook. Pleasant Company continued to jump for fun at the head of affairs, but Tiger Roll got a little bit low over this one. Further back in the field, Katie Walsh’s mount was hampered slightly by a loose horse. The jockeys aboard Shantou Flyer, The Last Samuri and Thunder And Roses decided to call it a day having jumped it.
There was no change at the head of affairs as the leaders cleared five out; Seeyouatmidnight, Valseur Lido and Ucello Conti continued to be his nearest pursuers, from Tiger Roll, Childrens List and Bless The Wings. This group of seven were clear of Milansbar, Double Ross, Anibale Fly, Gas Line Boy, Vieux Lion Rouge and Road To Riches. Tenor Nivernais was pulled up before the next.
Four out was the final open-ditch, with Pleasant Company jumping it well; in contrast, Ucello Conti hit it and his nose hit the turf. Jockey Daryl Jacob was flung over his head as a result. Technically it was an unseat, as the horse managed to remain on his feet, just, but there was no way any jockey could have stayed in the plate.
This left a leading group of six to continue to the plain fence, three from home. There were no departures at this fence, with the gap between these and their pursuers seemingly closing as those initially outpaced began to stay on. Thus, returning across the Melling Road, Pleasant Company remained ahead of Tiger Roll, Seeyouatmidnight, Valseur Lido, Bless The Wings, Childrens List, Milansbar, Gas Line Boy, Double Ross, Anibale Fly, Road To Riches, Vieux Lion Rouge and Raz De Maree. The remainder were just making up the numbers, with no chance of claiming any of the 10 prizes.
The competitors continued the long run towards two out; Warriors Tale and the favourite Total Recall called it a day before they got there. Childrens List had already begun to tire and drop back; he was soon joined by Seeyouatmidnight. This left five Irish competitors out in front and clear of the remainder; Anibale Fly having made significant ground to join this group. Having turned in, Gas Line Boy now led the pursuers.
Tiger Roll was upsides the long-time leader as they jumped two out; the latter made an error here, allowing his rival to a narrow advantage as they continued towards the final fence. Bless The Wings chased them, from Anibale Fly and the also now fading Valseur Lido. The diminutive Tiger Roll was around one length up as they jumped the last. Gas Line Boy blundered here when clearing it in unison with Road To Riches and Valseur Lido.
Meanwhile the leading duo was heading towards the elbow; Tiger Roll was five lengths clear of his rival by the stage. However, as he approached the site of the water-jump to his left, Davy Russell’s mount began to falter, with Pleasant Company laying down a renewed effort and closing upon the leader with every stride. Photograph!!!
Triple Cheltenham Festival winner Tiger Roll got the verdict, by a head. In another couple of strides the story would have been very different. So it was a first-time win in the big race for jockey Davy Russell; he was the oldest rider in the race. Had Pleasant Company prevailed, it would have been David Mullins’ second Grand National winner at the tender age of 21, having ridden Rule The World to victory in 2016; that horse was also owned by Dreary O’Leary.
It was also a very close thing between the 3rd and 4th placed finishers; Anibale Fly failing by just a neck to collar 13-year-old Bless The Wings at the line, although they had completed 11 lengths behind the winner and runner-up.
The first Brit home was Bryony Frost aboard Milansbar, having stayed on into 5th during the final furlong. If any lady is going to ride a Grand National winner in the foreseeable future, Bryony is probably the one, if she gets aboard a stayer with some toe! Especially as both Katie Walsh and sister-in-law Nina Carberry hung up their racing boots in 2018.
Today she finished 32½ lengths behind the winner and 21 lengths behind the 4th. Milansbar, in turn, was 12 lengths ahead of the 6th-placed Road To Riches, followed by Gas Line Boy, Valsuer Lido, Vieux Lion Rouge, also 13-year-old Raz De Maree, Seeyouatmidnight and, finally, Baie Des Iles.
Double Ross, Childrens List and Pendra were pulled up before the last fence, Carlingford Lough after it.
Dreary ‘not in the least bit funny’ O’Leary described his winner as a ‘rat of a little thing’; although, after today’s victory, he joked that he wanted to ‘adopt the horse as his fifth child’!
The first four horses home were trained in Ireland; in fact eight of the 12 finishers were trained in the Emerald Isle. Owner Michael O’Leary managed to get five horses into the race, with three of them finishing; in 1st, 6th and 8th places respectively. Gordon Elliott had trained the 1st and 3rd.
The trainer of the runner-up Pleasant Company, Willie Mullins, said his tip for next year’s race, all being well, is Childrens List.
Gavin Sheehan, who had fallen aboard Final Nudge at the Canal Turn, sustained a broken arm. There were concerns following the race regarding Saint Are, who had been brought down at The Chair but got up again and galloped away; he was put under observation by the vets. However, he proved to be fine and was subsequently retired.
Also Milansbar and Seeyouatmidnight finished lame; with Anibale Fly, Carlingford Lough and Raz De Maree suffering from post-race heat stress.
Here is the full result for all those runners which finished the race:
And those which did not finish:
Following the race, trainers Colin Tizzard and Tom George were stood in one of the corrals, beside the course-side rail, chatting. They were waiting for their charges, which would have been running loose, to be found and brought back to the enclosure. When Colin’s horse, The Dutchman, was found and led back, he went to check on his charge and followed the horse as it was led into the covered unsaddling area.
We remained beside the course-side rails following the Grand National; there would have been too much of a crush in the Winners’ Enclosure/Parade Ring area.
Race 6 - 5:15pm
THE RANDOX HEALTH GRAND NATIONAL STEEPLE CHASE (HANDICAP) (CLASS 1) (Grade 3)
ALPHA DES OBEAUX (FR) wore earplugs which were
removed at the start and PLEASANT COMPANY (IRE) and TOTAL RECALL (IRE) wore
earplugs throughout the race.
The favourite for the final race of the day was Michael’s Mount, trained by Ian Williams and ridden by James Bowen; price 4-1.
Both Sandra and I fancied Donald McCain’s runners – she liked William Of Orange, whilst I liked the grey Dear Sire. There were two greys, the other being All Set To Go.
Having had their girths checked, the riders began to congregate in the chute at the far corner of the track.
And then they were off, with Sternrubin and the blinkered and noseband-wearing William Of Orange leading the way as the runners headed along the side of the racecourse. The competitors had soon entered the home straight and continued on their way to the first flight; bringing up the rear was one the greys, All Set To Go.
All fifteen runners cleared the flight safely, although both Broughtons Admiral and Dear Sire were a little short of room in mid-field. They continued on their journey to the second where, to the inside of the field, the favourite bunny-hopped it; Havana Beat was slightly impeded here by Colwinston who jumped across in front of him. Birch Hill was untidy at the back of the field too.
There was a longer run between hurdles two and three, with Sternrubin continuing to set the pace, ahead of William Of Orange and Solatentif; the latter sporting the colours of the late Ann and Alan Potts for trainer Colin Tizzard. All Set To Go occupied last position as they all negotiated it successfully.
The runners subsequently continued down past the grandstands on their way towards the winning post. Sternrubin led from William Of Orange, Solatentif and Broughtons Admiral. Final Choice followed these, together with the hooded Dear Sire and Michael’s Mount. Behind them travelled the hooded Scheu Time, also Havana Beat and Maquisard, then High Expectations and Colwinston, the cheek-pieced Birch Hill, Unison and All Set To Go.
There was no change at the head of affairs as the runners headed around the bottom bend; Unison was now detached by three lengths at the rear of the field. Having entered the back straight, the runners had soon arrived at the fourth flight; Sternrubin and Solatentif jumped this in unison and they all cleared it safely once more.
The competitors continued their journey along the back straight to the next. The inside panel of this flight was trashed as a result of untidy jumps from a number of runners who appeared slightly short of room. Meanwhile the fourth panel was destroyed by All Set To Go, which stepped on it with his hind-legs.
Broughtons Admiral was being pushed along as the field headed over the sanded track-way on their way to the fourth last obstacle. Solatentif led the runners over this one, from Sternrubin, Final Choice and Scheu Time. Having jumped the flight, Unison received some stern reminders when trailing in rear.
The runners entered the top bend and made their way along the far end of the track once more; one circuit now completed. Solatentif continued to lead from the improved Dear Sire who now disputed second position with Sternrubin, followed by Final Choice, Scheu Time and Michael’s Mount. A number of the back-markers were now struggling and William Of Orange had tailed off too. Both he and Unison were pulled up before three out, as was High Expectations.
The Colin Tizzard-trained runner led the field into the home straight but he had relinquished the lead by the time they reached three out; Dear Sire held the narrow advantage as they jumped it. At the rear of the field, Maquisard tripped over the hurdle and did a somersault latterly; it didn’t look promising at the time.
Meanwhile the remaining eleven runners continued their journey down the home straight towards the penultimate flight; Dear Sire still led at this one, from Sternrubin, Solatentif and Scheu Time. Solatentif began to tire as they headed down towards the final hurdle. Havana Beat was staying on behind the leaders as Scheu Time joined the grey to dispute the lead just prior to the obstacle.
Scheu Time met it spot on but, despite this, he caught his near fore on the flight and came down; Dear Sire missed the prostrate horse by inches but not so the prostrate jockey and was almost brought down as his legs became entangled with Katie Walsh. Dear Sire had almost been stopped in his tracks, and this enabled the only slightly hampered Havana Beat to now take the lead.
James Nixon’s mount subsequently kept-on well and was ridden out to the line to win by 10 lengths. Dear Sire managed to hold onto 2nd place, three quarters of a length in front of Sternrubin; All Set To Go claimed 4th by a short-head over Broughtons Admiral, with Solatentif in 6th.
Although it didn’t look promising at the time, Maquisard was okay; his next run was on the flat at Epsom on Derby Day! Scheu Time was okay too, as he’d risen to his feet and galloped away immediately after his fall.
The winning jockey is a Liverpudlian, who moved away from home to live in Hereford and was attached to Robin Dickin’s yard at the time of his victory. The winning trainer on this occasion was Tony Carroll.
Race 7 - 6:10pm
THE PINSENT MASONS HANDICAP HURDLE RACE (CLASS 2)
(For Conditional Jockeys and Amateur Riders)
Permission was given for DEAR SIRE (FR) to be
mounted in the chute and go early to post.
Racing over, we’d returned to the steppings above Winners’ Enclosure before popping to the loo ahead of departing the racecourse.
Having walked back along the rubbish-strewn concourse, we headed across the track in order to catch a bus back to the far side of the Mildmay course. We walked along the sanded track-way, across the Melling Road and out through the tented entrance. As you may recall, Sandra’s car was parked very close by.
Today’s racecourse escape was in total contrast to last year when, eventually, we’d decided to follow the locals out of the gate situated close to the stable yard, presumably the one used by the horseboxes. Today we were delayed in a queue to leave via Anchor Bridge but, as we’d been parked much nearer to our exit point, we were able to squeeze into the queue rather than join the end of it.
There were a number of coaches holding us up, as marshals gave them priority; but many of these exited via the roadway which runs along the perimeter of the Mildmay course, rather than via the canal bridge. Having reached Aintree Lane, there was a little bit of confusion; a white van was manoeuvring in the roadway, partly blocking our right-turn escape route.
Having negotiated this obstruction, we headed along the lane, passing over numerous speed bumps, before turning right at a mini-roundabout. Our route took us back over the canal, via a swing-bridge, and under a railway bridge, before arriving at the A506. We subsequently took a left turn to travel down the dual carriageway to a large roundabout beneath the M57.
We exited the roundabout via the slip-road onto the M57, travelling for a single junction before continuing eastbound on the A580 all the way to Stone Cross. We arrived back at our hotel at 19:55, with dinner booked for 21:00.
In the restaurant we were shown to a table situated in the room with the fireplace; a 4-seater to the left thereof. We both fancied chips today, so ordered a separate side-order of thin fries. Our main course was the vegetable lasagne, the same choice of meal which I’d enjoyed on Thursday evening. It was accompanied by garlic bread. I didn’t quite manage to eat all of the fries ... I was too full, but still found room for a dessert, as you do – my choice was baked cheesecake, with lemon curd and topped with raspberries. I ordered a J2O as I always do – apple and mango today.
I packed some of my clothes and clobber on Saturday evening, leaving the remainder until early Sunday. I also took a number of bags to my car, before calling for Sandra at 07:45 to go to breakfast. I didn’t use the lift today when transporting my luggage, although I’d used it a number of times on Wednesday evening when taking my bags to my room.
I set off for home at 08:45. I’d already researched, via my mobile phone, which motorway Service Stations had a WH Smiths on site, as I wanted to buy a copy of the Racing Post. I chose Knutsford; it seemed appropriate!!! Also, my research suggested that the earlier Lymm Services area was more geared up to lorry-based customers.
At this point in time, Knutsford Services was situated within the M6 ‘smart’ motorway road-works taking place between junctions 19 and 16. As a result I had to negotiate traffic cones denoting the entrance thereof. I parked up and headed over to the service station building.
However, once inside WH Smiths, I did a tour of the shop, twice, even popping upstairs to the M & S Simply Food at one point in search of a newpaper stand ... someone must be selling newspapers, as I’d seen a bloke carrying one as I’d walked towards the main service station building. I eventually found it, having gone back downstairs again – it was now right in front of me! It was probably plain to see ... provided you were just walking past, rather than visiting the shop itself! Fortunately they had a number of copies of the Racing Post, so I bought one before heading back to my car.
Evidently plans are afoot to increase capacity at the roundabout above the M6 (junction 19) at Knutsford:
As always, I found the chevron markings painted on the motorway carriageway very annoying. I never drive too close to the vehicle in front on me and find these mesmerising; so much so that my concentration wanes. As far as I’m concerned, it makes motorway driving more dangerous, not safer. The chevrons appear after Junction 15, when one is heading towards Stafford.
There were no delays on the motorways, M6 and M1; although there was a further section of the M6 being transformed into a ‘Smart’ motorway, with a reduced speed limit of 50mph – between Birmingham and the M1. There were chevrons painted on the carriageway here too.
The long-term road-works associated with the A14 trunk road at Junction 19 of the M1 were now complete, having been started in January 2014. Two bridges were demolished and six constructed as part of the project; this enabled the free flow of traffic from the motorways to the A14, and vice versa.
Can you tell that I would like to have been a construction engineer, in a different life?
Once again I noticed the attractive ‘shades of blue’ building beside the motorway at Milton Keynes – Altitude - evidently it’s a warehouse, the largest and tallest in the UK! Who’d have thought a warehouse could be attractive!!!
Having completed by journey without incident, I arrived home at 12:15.
AINTREE FESTIVAL 2018 – Jockeys’ and Trainers’ League Tables
Here is a round-up of the Top Jockey and Top Trainer statistics for this year’s Festival ...
Daryl Jacob, having won three Grade One races, aboard We Have A Dream, L’Ami Serge and Terrefort respectively, claimed the Top Jockey award.
And Nicky Henderson claimed the Top Trainer award with 5 victories – We Have A Dream, Might Bite, L’Ami Serge, Terrefort and Santini; all Grade One races too! Tom Lacey was the surprise package; Alan King failed to win a race but did have a second, two thirds and a fourth.