PART II

DIARY – AINTREE FESTIVAL

LADIES’ DAY

FRIDAY 07 APRIL 2017

 

 

 

Ultragold.jpg

 

Winning jockey Harry Cobden helps to cool his mount,

Ultragold, following the Topham Chase

 

Click here to read my Ladies’ Day Diary Part I

 

The favourite for the next race was Sub Lieutenant, trained by Henry de Bromhead and ridden by Bryan Cooper; price 100-30.  He was an absolute handful as he came out of the Parade Ring early; his lad and trainer were having an issue holding him!  Fox Norton was led out without a jockey, with Robbie Power preceding him on foot.

Being a Grade 1 race and the feature event of the day, having exited onto the racecourse, the runners were paraded in front of the stands before they headed to the starting gate, which was at the beginning of the back straight.  I think Sub Lieutenant may have missed the pre-race parade due to his behaviour. 

Race 4

Melling Chase (Grade 1)

Distance

2 miles 4 furlongs (16 fences to negotiate)

No. of Runners

9

Fox Norton, God’s Own, Josses Hill, Kylemore Lough, Royal Regatta, Sub Lieutenant, Top Gamble, Traffic Fluide, Uxizandre

 

Anyway, soon it was time for the race to commence, with the Assistant Starter whipping them in as they approached the starting gate.  And then they were off, with Uxizandre leading the way to the first fence; Josses Hill was almost upsides as they cleared it.  The field continued along the back straight to the second; Uxizandre was very hesitant at this one although he retained a narrow advantage. 

The third fence was the first open-ditch and Alan King’s runner took off a long way before the fence, but made it to the other side okay.  However, this enabled Josses Hill to take the lead, from Sub Lieutenant as they headed across the sanded track to reach the final fence in the back straight.  All nine of the runners cleared this one well before they entered the far turn; the Nicky Henderson representative continued to lead the way, from Sub Lieutenant, Uxizandre, Kylemore Lough, Fox Norton, last year’s winner God’s Own, Royal Regatta, Traffic Fluide and Top Gamble.

Fox Norton made a small error at the cross-fence.  It was almost an Indian file formation as the runners headed into the home straight on the first occasion.  The leader jumped away to his right as he cleared the first fence therein; this had a knock-on effect with the Gigginstown runner which currently travelled to his outside.  As a result Bryan Cooper switched his mount to the inner as they headed towards the second of the open-ditches.  Again Josses Hill jumped out to his right over this one and Sub Lieutenant took a very narrow advantage as they headed across the Grand National course on their way to fence number eight.  Fox Norton landed hind-legs first over this one and Traffic Fluide was less than perfect here too. 

The runners then headed down past the winning post with one circuit now to travel.  At the rear of the field, Royal Regatta received a couple of sharp reminders as he quickly lost touch with his rivals.  Richard Johnson persevered for a few strides but it soon became apparent that his mount wasn’t in a ‘going mood’ today.  The Champion Jockey pulled up Royal Regatta before entering the back straight; so there were 8 competitors remaining.

The pace had been raised as they began their journey to the next; there were no incidents at this obstacle, although God’s Own cleared it a little more slowly than his rivals.  Although he still seemed to be travelling okay between his fences, Barry Geraghty had to boot Uxizandre into the next fence.  There were no issues here and the runners continued to the open-ditch.  The Alan King runner held a very narrow advantage as they cleared it.

The field headed across the sanded track once more on their journey to the final fence in the back straight; a blanket would have covered the first three.  Having cleared this obstacle, the runners headed into the far turn led by Sub Lieutenant from Josses Hill.  Uxizandre appeared a little short of room to the inside of Kylemore Lough at this point.  Traffic Fluide was being pushed along at the rear of the field as they continued to the cross-fence.  The leading four were almost in a line across the track as they jumped it.

Sub Lieutenant then forged on and led the field around the final bend.  Kylemore Lough was now his nearest pursuer, with the hooded Fox Norton improving his position between Uxizandre and Josses Hill.  Traffic Fluide remained at the back of the field.  Having entered the home straight there were three further fences to negotiate.

The Gigginstown runner held a half-length advantage as they jumped three out; having cleared it, Uxizandre quickly dropped to the back of the field.  It was Fox Norton which swept through between Sub Lieutenant and Kylemore Lough as they headed towards the final open-ditch and he held a narrow lead as they cleared it.  Meanwhile, currently in fourth position, God’s Own jumped out to his right over this one.

There was no stopping Fox Norton as the runners crossed the Grand National track; he continued to extend his lead as he approached the final fence and was at least five lengths clear of his nearest rival as he flew over it.  Robbie Power continued to push him out until they were opposite the water-jump, after which he let his mount coast home to record a winning distance of 6 lengths at the line.  Sub Lieutenant finished 2nd and Traffic Fluide stormed down the run-in to claim 3rd position very close home; 11 lengths behind the runner-up.  Kylemore Lough completed in 4th position, God’s Own 5th, Top Gamble 6th, Josses Hill 7th and Uxizandre last. 

It was the owners’, Ann and Alan Potts, second Grade 1 winner of the afternoon; following on from Pingshou’s victory.  When interviewed, Robbie Power said his mount’s jumping errors were probably due to him just getting to know the horse.  He was also of the opinion that Fox Norton would be able to stay 3-miles on today’s type of ground – it was described as good.  Thus Boxing Day’s King George VI Chase might be a possibility; being the owners’ designated jockey, he also had the option to ride Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Sizing John in that or the Lexus Chase. 

Result

Horse

Jockey

Trainer

1st

Fox Norton

Robbie Power

Colin Tizzard

2nd

Sub Lieutenant

Bryan Cooper

Henry de Bromhead

3rd

Traffic Fluide

Joshua Moore

Gary Moore

4th

Kylemore Lough

Jamie Moore

Kerry Lee

 

We remained beside the course-side rails following the race.

 

Race 4 - 3:25pm

THE JLT MELLING STEEPLE CHASE (CLASS 1) (Grade 1)

The Stewards considered the running of ROYAL REGATTA (IRE), ridden by Richard Johnson and trained by Philip Hobbs, which was pulled up. They noted the trainer’s representative could offer no explanation for the gelding’s performance.

The Stewards noted that SUB LIEUTENANT (IRE), trained by Henry de Bromhead, was unruly and difficult to saddle and had therefore entered the Parade Ring after the signal to mount was given. They further noted that the gelding was mounted on the course and had failed to parade in race card order due to its continued unruly behaviour.

The Stewards considered the running of GOD’S OWN (IRE), ridden by A.P. Heskin and trained by Tom George, placed fifth. They noted the trainer could offer no explanation for the gelding’s performance.

The favourites for race 5 were As De Mee, trained by Paul Nicholls and ridden by Sean Bowen and Seefood trained by Dr Richard Newland and ridden by Richard Johnson; their price 8-1.  Of the two JP McManus runners, Barry Geraghty had chosen last year’s winner Eastlake over Bouvreuil. 

My non-betted upon selection was Third Intention which had finished 3rd in this race last year.  There were three greys in this event, namely Irish Cavalier, Straidnahanna and Portrait King.

Nicky Henderson had won the Topham five times, with Wont Be Gone Long in 1990, Liberthine in 2006 and Triolo D’Alene, Ma Filleule and Rajdhani Express in 2013, 2014 and 2015 respectively.  Today he was represented by the novices O O Seven and Gold Present; although they’d both only had 4 runs apiece over fences.

The Topham Chase is run over 18 Grand National fences.  The start of the race was at the far end of the home straight, with 2 fences to jump before The Chair. 

 

There were a number of late joiners to the main group as they jogged around ahead of the start, with Solar Impulse, Irish Cavalier and Vintage Vinnie still having their girths checked before joining the others latterly.  The hooded Henryville ridden by Leighton Aspell was a latecomer, being led towards the others as they continued to mill around ahead of the off.  His mount was released to the rear of the main group and joined Eastlake which was also hanging slightly back from the others.

Race 5

Topham Chase Handicap (Grade 3)

Distance

2 miles 5 furlongs 110 yards (17 fences with one omitted)

No. of Runners

29

Alelchi Inois, Irish Cavalier, Eastlake, O O Seven, Clarcam, Third Intention, Quite By Chance, Bouvreuil, As De Mee, Bright New Dawn, Gold Present, Mr Diablo, Thomas Brown, Ballykan, Henryville, Straidnahanna, Ultragold, Vintage Vinnie, Go Conquer, Seefood, Solar Impulse, Katnap, Katachenko, Imjoeking, Gowanauthat, Father Edward, Long Lunch, Portrait King, Thomond

 

Amazingly, the runners were off at the first time of asking; it was civilised!  Leading the field as they headed over the first fence was Katachenko, As De Mee, Go Conquer, Imjoeking, Gowanauthat and Mr Diablo.  Bright New Dawn, travelling just behind the leaders, crashed through the fence and fell.  As a result, both Long Lunch and Eastlake were hampered.  Jockey Liam Treadwell was soon being attended to on the landing side of the obstacle.

The remaining 28 runners continued to the second fence, where Third Intention fell; he appeared to jump the fence okay but just knuckled over on landing.  Both Eastlake and Henryville had to take evasive action to avoid colliding with the prostrate horse.  By the way, both of the fallen horses were okay and had galloped away, rider-less.

The field now headed to the third fence, The Chair.  Katachenko and Imjoeking led over this, from Gowanauthat and Go Conquer.  Ballykan dived over the fence and fell when travelling to the inside, just behind the leaders; he hampered Bouvreuil, but Portrait King deftly sidestepped the faller.  Ballykan galloped away unhurt.  The remaining 26 competitors headed over the water-jump without incident; Portrait King and Henryville brought up the rear.

The runners subsequently headed around the grandstand turn, headed under the Grand National starting gate and out into the country for the one and only time.  Imjoeking held a narrow advantage as they jumped the fifth fence; close up to his inside, Katachenko made a slight error and jockey Will Kennedy reached down to adjust his left iron as a result. 

The following fence was a plain one and, to the outside of runners and near to the rear, Long Lunch fell at this one.  The horse was fine and jockey James Davies jogged away too.  Imjoeking continued to lead as the remaining runners headed towards and all negotiated the open-ditch successfully. 

There were no casualties at the eighth fence either, with Derek Fox’s mount still narrowly ahead, spearheading the runners.  Katachenko continued to plough a furrow to the inside, with As De Mee, Go Conquer, O O Seven, Gowanauthat all prominent.  Bringing up the rear were Ruby’s mount Alelchi Inois, also Henryville and Portrait King.

The ninth fence provided little challenge to the runners as they all cleared it without incident.  The next fence would be Beecher’s Brook.  There were no departures at this infamous fence, although one of the joint-favourites Seefood did stumble on landing, with jockey Richard Johnson having to re-gather his reins as they continued.

The following fence was Fionavon and all of the runners hopped over this one without any issues.  Imjoeking continued to lead from Katachenko, As De Mee, Ultragold, O O Seven, Eastlake, Gold Present, Go Conquer, Vintage Vinnie, Seefood, Solar Impulse, Bouvreuil, Gowanauthat, Katnap, Thomond, Mr Diablo, Straidnahanna, Irish Cavalier, Thomas Brown, Henryville, Clarcam, Quite By Chance, Portrait King, and Father Edward; Alelchi Inois brought up the rear.

The leader swung in from his mid-course position as they approached the Canal Turn in order to take the fence at an angle; this reduced the severity of the 90% turn.  However, still travelling to the inside, Katachenko put in an extra stride, got too close and unseated Will Kennedy as a result.  A number of runners appeared to be short of room at this point; Gold Present fell, although seemingly some way after the fence having lost his hind-legs from under him, and Gowanauthat was badly hampered and unseated his rider.  Go Conquer was severely hampered but survived.  Quite By Chance was carried very wide as a result of the melee.  It appeared that Gold Present and Gowanauthat’s reins became entangled too, so as they cantered away they were tethered together with nowhere to go! 

Meanwhile the remaining horses headed to and successfully negotiated Valentines; Imjoeking continued to lead from O O Seven and As De Mee.  However, the former got a little close to the next fence and capsized on landing.  The field had now thinned out considerably, so no-one was hampered by this incident.  The loose horse galloped away unharmed and Derek Fox was quickly to his feet also.  This departure left O O Seven to lead narrowly from Ultragold, As De Mee and Eastlake.  However, when improving to the outside of runners, Seefood didn’t get high enough over the following fence, which was the final open-ditch, and he fell.  Thomas Brown was hampered as a result of this departure.  Quite By Chance was pulled up before this fence and Alelchi Inois after it having made a jumping error.

Meanwhile, heading over the next, O O Seven continued to lead from Ultragold, As De Mee, Vintage Vinnie, Solar Impulse, Eastlake, Bouvreuil, Mr Diablo, Irish Cavalier, Thomond, Henryville, Katnap, Portrait King, Thomas Brown, Straidnahanna, Go Conquer, Father Edward and Clarcam.  The runners soon re-crossed the Melling Road and swung to their left heading for two out.  Vintage Vinnie and Solar Impulse were now coming under pressure, with Eastlake weakening too.

However, there was a steward standing in front of the penultimate fence and he was waving a chequered flag; green screens had been erected around jockey Liam Treadwell who was still being attended on the far side of the fence.  This being the case, the remaining competitors steered their mounts to the outside of the obstacle with now just one fence to jump.  The leading trio were travelling neck and neck as they approached the last, with Katnap emerging from the pack in pursuit.

Having successfully negotiated the fence, O O Seven was the first to weaken, and the same fate soon befell As De Mee.  This left Ultragold with a half-length advantage over Katnap as they reached the elbow.  However, despite the best efforts of the Irish raider, the Colin Tizzard runner was able to fend off his rival and galloped all the way to the line to win by a length. 

It was a blanket finish for third place, with Portrait King running on the claim it 6 lengths behind the runner-up.  O O Seven completed in 4th and As De Mee 5th; Thomond was a close 6th.  Vintage Vinnie claimed 7th, Henryville 8th, Father Edward 9th and Bouvreuil 10th.  There were 10 prizes, although the latter won just £84!  Irish Cavalier came home next, followed by Solar Impulse, Straidnahanna, Thomas Brown, Mr Diablo, Clarcam and, finally, Go Conquer … who didn’t today!  Barry Geraghty had pulled up Eastlake having successfully negotiated the last.

Colin Tizzard was certainly farming the prizes today, having won three of the five races so far!  This one was for Brocade Racing, P Romans and Terry Warner.  This particular winner certainly wasn’t expected, as Ultragold was a 50-1 shot.   The winning jockey was 18-year-old Harry Cobden; he went on to win the current season’s Conditional Jockeys’ Championship.     

My race pick was right trainer, wrong horse!  RUK reported that all horses had returned safely. 

Daryl Jacob, who had fallen at The Chair aboard Ballykan, was stood down for the remainder of the day.  Having initially been treated in the medical room, Liam Treadwell was taken to hospital, as a precaution. 

Result

Horse

Jockey

Trainer

1st

Ultragold

Harry Cobden

Colin Tizzard

2nd

Katnap

Danny Mullins

Joseph Patrick O’Brien

3rd

Portrait King

Conor O’Farrell

Patrick Griffin

4th

O O Seven

Nico de Boinville

Nicky Henderson

5th

As De Mee

Sean Bowen

Paul Nicholls

6th

Thomond

Sean Flanagan

Noel Meade

7th

Vintage Vinnie

Jonathan Moore

Rebecca Curtis

8th

Henryville

Leighton Aspell

Harry Fry

9th

Father Edward

David Noonan

David Pipe

10th

Bouvreuil

Sam Twiston-Davies

Paul Nicholls

11th

Irish Cavalier

Paul Townend

Rebecca Curtis

12th

Solar Impulse

Dave Crosse

Christopher Kellett

13th

Straidnahanna

Danny Cook

Sue Smith

14th

Thomas Brown

Niall P Madden

Harry Fry

15th

Mr Diablo

L P Demsey

J P Dempsey

16th

Clarcam

Bryan Cooper

Gordon Elliott

17th

Go Conquer

Aidan Coleman

Jonjo O’Neill

 

And those which did not finish:

 

Pulled Up

After final fence

Eastlake

Barry Geraghty

Jonjo O’Neill

Pulled Up

Before 16th fence

Alelchi Inois

Ruby Walsh

Willie Mullins

Fell

15th fence

Seefood

Richard Johnson

Dr Richard Newland

Pulled Up

Before 15th fence

Quite By Chance

Tom Scudamore

Colin Tizzard

Fell

14th fence

Imjoeking

Derek Fox

Lucinda Russell

Unseated

12th (Canal Turn)

Katachenko

Will Kennedy

Donald McCain

Unseated

12th (Canal Turn)

Gowanauthat

Harry Bannister

Charlie Mann

Fell

12th (Canal Turn)

Gold Present

Jeremiah McGrath

Nicky Henderson

Fell

6th fence

Long Lunch

James Davies

Charlie Longsdon

Fell

3rd (The Chair)

Ballykan

Daryl Jacob

Nigel Twiston-Davies

Fell

2nd fence

Third Intention

Tom O’Brien

Colin Tizzard

Fell

1st fence

Bright New Dawn

Liam Treadwell

Venetia Williams

 

The two side-saddle mounted ladies accompanied the winner back to the Winners’ Enclosure. 

 

My selection went awry very early on, having been Third Intention. 

We remained at our chosen position beside the exit/entry walkway.

 

Race 5 - 4:05pm

RANDOX HEALTH TOPHAM STEEPLE CHASE (HANDICAP) (CLASS 1) (Grade 3)

 

The Stewards held an enquiry into the use of the whip by Sean Flanagan, the rider of THOMOND (IRE), placed sixth, from 2 furlongs out. Having heard his evidence and viewed recordings of the race, they found him in breach of Schedule (B)6 Part 2 in that he had used his whip above the permitted level. The Stewards suspended Flanagan for 2 days as follows: Friday 21 and Saturday 22 April 2017.

 

The Stewards noted that KATACHENKO (IRE), trained by Donald McCain, would wear earplugs which would be removed at the start.

 

The Veterinary Officer reported that a post-race examination of GO CONQUER (IRE), unplaced, trained by Jonjo O'Neill, during routine testing, found it to have lost its left fore shoe.

 

The favourite for the next event was Constantine Bay, trained by Nicky Henderson and ridden by Nico de Boinville; price 11-4. 

Before the race started, the steward who was manning the walkway gate laid down a challenge to select the winner of the next race; he did this, in his own words, because ‘you seem to know what you are talking about’.  I chose the second favourite The Worlds End and the fifth favourite Debece; the latter is a half-brother to Don Poli.  Also running in this race was West Approach, a half-brother to Thistlecrack.

The McNeill family had two runners in this race – The Worlds End and Keeper Hill. 

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. 

 

Race 6

Sefton Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 1)

Distance

3 miles 110 yards (13 hurdles to negotiate)

No. of Runners

11

Ballymalin, Beyond Conceit, Constantine Bay, Debece, Elegant Escape, Get On The Yager, Keeper Hill, Monbeg Charmer, Testify, The Worlds End, West Approach

 

Monbeg Charmer was delayed arriving at the start.  Once his girth had been checked, the others joined him upon the hurdles’ track and, although he was bouncing along sideways-on due to keenness, the horses were off at the first time of asking. 

Get On The Yager led the runners to the first hurdle, from Monbeg Charmer to the wide outside, and between them Elegant Escape and Trevor Hemmings’ Testify.  Keepers Hill was at the rear of the field as they jumped it.  There was no change at the head of affairs as the field continued around the grandstand bend, heading out into the country for the first time. 

Travelling out wide once again, Monbeg Charmer led the runners over the first flight in the back straight.  Near the back of the field, the favourite had to be chivvied along as they headed towards the third flight.  Elegant Escape didn’t jump this flight particularly fluently.  West Approach was now at the rear of the field.  Testify moved alongside Monbeg Charmer to dispute the lead as they headed across the sanded track on their journey to the final flight in the back straight.  West Approach didn’t jump it very well and was subsequently pushed along.

The lead was disputed by Get On The Yager, Testify and Monbeg Charmer as they headed into the far turn and across the top of the racecourse; Debece was travelling on their heels and keen.  Monbeg Charmer had lost his early position by the time they entered the home straight once more.  Testify led narrowly over the first flight therein.  In midfield, Constantine Bay didn’t appear to be travelling particularly kindly as they continued to the next flight.  Testify and Get On The Yager jumped this in unison at the head of affairs. 

They journeyed to the next, where Get On The Yager landed awkwardly and briefly lost half a length or so but was back on terms with Testify as they headed past the winning post with one further circuit to travel.  Debece travelled nicely in third position, from Ballymalin, Elegant Escape, The Worlds End alongside the nudged along Constantine Bay, Beyond Conceit, Keeper Hill, West Approach and the struggling and now detached Monbeg Charmer.  Brian Hughes decided to pull his mount up before the next flight. 

Entering the back straight for the final time, Testify led from Get On The Yager; the latter landed slightly awkwardly over this one.  The favourite was driven more firmly by this stage of the race.  It was the leader’s turn to land awkwardly over the next flight but he retained his advantage; in mid-field, Elegant Escape also made an error.

The runners now headed across the sanded pathway on their journey to the final flight in the back straight.  There were a number of untidy jumps at this one, due to an increase in pace, with a flattened panel remaining in their wake one from the inside and West Approach hopping through the gap left therein.    

Get On The Yager held a half-length advantage as they headed into the far turn, with Testify now receiving a couple of backhanders from Will Kennedy as he disputed second position with The Worlds End.  At the rear of the main group, Keeper Hill appeared to clip heels with a rival and was fortunate not to come down as a result.  The Skelton’s runner continued at the head of affairs as they headed across the top of the racecourse, despite being ridden along.  In contrast, Testify dropped out and soon found himself at the rear of the field.

Having entered the home straight, The Worlds End loomed up alongside the leader as they headed towards the third last and took over as they jumped it.  Debece was also beginning his challenge, although he jumped out to his left, which resulted in Constantine Bay being a little short of room here; a hurdle panel was flattened as a result.

The Worlds End, although leading, was being cajoled along as they headed towards the penultimate flight; jockey Adrian Heskin administering slaps down his mount’s neck.  Debece was his nearest pursuer as they cleared it, with Beyond Conceit, Constantine Bay and Keeper Hill only marginally behind the Tim Vaughan runner. 

Adrian Heskin continued to drive his mount as they approached the final flight, and the leader knocked a panel flat having got too close to it.  Debece jumped through the gap, whilst Beyond Conceit flattened the adjacent section having bunny-hopped it.  Amazingly, having ran in snatches throughout the race and often not jumped particularly well either, Constantine Bay continued to challenge the leading trio.  In contrast, Keepers Hill had now weakened and dropped back.

The Worlds End drifted across towards the far rail as they headed down the run-in, with his three rivals continuing to stay on and gradually gaining upon him.  However they ran out of time and Tom George’s charge won by half a length at the line.  Travelling to the nearside, Beyond Conceit grabbed the runner-up spot probably on the nod; he’d beaten Debece by a short-head.  Thus I lost out on a one two by the shortest distance possible.  Constantine Bay completed three quarters of a length further back to claim 4th.  Ballymalin plugged on the finish 5th, with Keeper Hill fading into 6th. 

Nine completed the race, with West Approach having been pulled up before the final flight.   

When interviewed after the race, owner Max McNeill said the plan for next season for The Worlds End is the staying hurdle route, rather than novice chasing.  He’d fallen in a point-to-point at the start of his career; a race which had been won by Ballymountain Boy, which is now trained by Martin Keighley!  

Result

Horse

Jockey

Trainer

1st

The Worlds End

Adrian Heskin

Tom George

2nd

Beyond Conceit

Barry Geraghty

Nicky Henderson

3rd

Debece

Alan Johns

Tim Vaughan

4th

Constantine Bay

Nico de Boinville

Nicky Henderson

 

Needless to say, the steward was impressed that I’d picked the winner and the third!  Phew!

We stayed within the Earl of Derby Enclosure, beside the horse-walk entry/exit point following the race.

 

Race 6 - 4:40pm

THE DOOM BAR SEFTON NOVICES' HURDLE RACE (CLASS 1) (Grade 1)

The Stewards noted that leaving the back straight on the last circuit, KEEPER HILL (IRE), placed sixth, had clipped the heels of BALLYMALIN (IRE), placed fifth, but after viewing a recording of the race they were satisfied that it did not involve a riding offence.

Brian Hughes, the rider of MONBEG CHARMER (IRE), which pulled up, reported that the gelding hung right and jumped right.

The favourite for the final race of the day was Black Op trained by Tom George and ridden by Adrian Heskin; price 10-3.

Aidan Coleman replaced Daryl Jacob aboard Enniscoffey Oscar; the latter having been stood down for the day having fallen during the Topham Chase. 

The starting gate for this event was in the far corner of the track, close to the Anchor Bridge canal crossing. 

 

Race 7

Champion Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race (Grade 2)

Distance

2 miles 1 furlong

No. of Runners

19

And The New, Black Op, Bomber’s Moon, Carlos Du Fruitier, Claimantakinforgan, Clondaw Castle, Enniscoffey Oscar, If The Cap Fits, King Of Realms, Lalor, Loud And Clear, Run To Milan, Some Reign, Tikkanbar, Western Ryder, Amateur, Larry, Point Of Principle, Sea Sovereign

 

The horses headed into the chute, close to the Anchor Bridge road crossing, with Amateur the last to join the group.  The runners jogged towards the starting gate and then they were off, at the first attempt. 

Carlos Du Fruitier led the runners as they headed across the top of the racecourse; prominent were Sea Sovereign, Lalor, Black Op, And The New and Claimantakinforgan.  Bringing up the rear at this stage were Amateur and Tikkanbar.  There was a little bit of argy-bargy as they travelled left-handed to enter the home straight on the first occasion. 

The Ben Pauling representative continued at the head of affairs as the runners journeyed between the empty wings of the three sets of hurdles on their way towards the main grandstands and winning post.  The field headed briefly into and out of the shadow cast by one of the new stands as they continued around the bottom bend. 

Carlos Du Fruitier continued to lead from Black Op, Sea Sovereign, Claimantakenforgan, Lalor, And The New, King Of Realms, Run To Milan, If The Cap Fits which sported the Rooney colours, Clondaw Castle, Point Of Principle, Larry, Some Reign, Western Ryder, Loud And Clear, Bomber’s Moon, Enniscoffey Oscar, Amateur and Tikkanbar. 

The horses headed under the Grand National starting gate and subsequently into the back straight for the one and only time.  All of the competitors continued to travel well within themselves as they headed through the first set of empty wings, then through the second set, across the sanded pathway followed by the final set of hurdle wings.  There was no change at the head of affairs, and Tom Scudamore continued to hold Tikkanbar up at the rear of the field.

The first horse to show signs of distress, as they headed into the far turn, was Bomber’s Moon.  Larry was soon struggling too, with Loud And Clear now at the back of the field; Some Reign, ridden by Grand National winning jockey turned flat-race jockey Graham Lee, was hampered as they began the turn into the home straight.

Having entered it, the competitors had soon passed between the empty wings of the third last; shortly afterwards, and with a wall of horses in front of him, Rhys Flint decided to switch Amateur to the stand-side in order to get a clearer run.  Lalor had grabbed a narrow advantage as the runners headed through the wings of the penultimate flight; but he had a wall of horses snapping at his heels.  The favourite Black Op was one of these, but he was under pressure.

Lalor continued to lead as they headed towards the final set of hurdle wings; And The New, Claimantakinforgan, Clondaw Castle, If The Cap Fits and the improving Enniscoffey Oscar were in hot pursuit.  Having passed between the aforementioned wings, the leader then drifted across to the far rail under a strong drive from Richard Johnson. 

However the leader was soon three lengths clear of his rivals, with Enniscoffey Oscar beginning to outstay his rivals in the battle for the runner-up position.  Lalor passed the post 2½ lengths ahead of Aidan Coleman’s mount, with Western Ryder staying on to the outside of runners to claim 3rd place, only a nose behind. If The Cap Fits was a neck away in 4th and Claimantakinforgan three-quarters of a length 5th, with And The New a head back in 6th.  Larry finished last of the 19 runners.  

The winner was priced at 33-1.  He isn’t ground-dependent either, having run well on soft and heavy going previously.         

Result

Horse

Jockey

Trainer

1st

Lalor

Richard Johnson

Richard Woollacott

2nd

Enniscoffey Oscar

Aidan Coleman

Emma Lavelle

3rd

Western Ryder

Gavin Sheehan

Warren Greatrex

4th

If The Cap Fits

Noel Fehily

Harry Fry

 

We decided to return to the steppings above the Winners’ Enclosure following this race, the final one of the day.  

 

Race 7 - 5:15pm

THE WEATHERBYS PRIVATE BANK CHAMPION STANDARD OPEN NATIONAL HUNT FLAT RACE (CLASS 1) (Grade 2)

 

The Stewards held an enquiry into the use of the whip by Gavin Sheehan, the rider of WESTERN RYDER (IRE), placed third, from approximately 1½ furlongs out. Having heard his evidence and viewed recordings of the race, they found him in breach of Schedule (B)6 Part 2 in that he had used his whip above the permitted level. The Stewards suspended Sheehan for 4 days as follows: Friday 21 to Monday 24 April 2017.

 

Martin Dwyer, the rider of LOUD AND CLEAR, unplaced, reported that the gelding ran too free.

 

Racing over, we set off back to the hotel, taking exactly the same route as the previous day; or I should say Sandra’s route, not my detour via the M62!  This meant heading out of the car park via the Anchor Bridge and turning right having reached Aintree Lane.  This road is designated the B5194 and we headed along it to reach a mini-roundabout where we turned right.  Shortly afterwards there is a set of traffic lights which regulates the flow of vehicles using a single-track swing bridge over the canal.  The water therein appeared to be clogged with weed.

Having negotiated said bridge, we continued to a set of traffic lights at the cross-roads upon the A506; we turned left and headed along the dual carriageway to a roundabout situated beneath the M57.  We drove underneath the motorway and headed up the slip-road, before leaving at the next junction in order to head eastwards upon the A580. 

This is a dual carriageway, with a number of sets of traffic lights, but just a couple of roundabouts in addition to the one beneath the M6.  It is a very straight road too, with an occasional hill here and there; also rural for much of our route upon it.  The hotel is situated a couple of miles beyond the M6, at Golborne, near Haydock, and the A580 runs beside it.   

Our evening meal was booked for 19:45 once more; today our table was in a much better location within the restaurant.  I chose spinach and ricotta lasagne, gin and tonic lemon trifle, and an apple & mango J2O.

 

PHOTOS – Aintree Festival Day 2 (Index)

 

 

 

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