PART II

DIARY – AINTREE FESTIVAL

LADIES’ DAY

FRIDAY 13 APRIL 2018

 

 

 

9 race 5 winner Ultragold 2.jpg

 

Winner of the Topham Chase, for the second year running, is

the Colin Tizzard-trained Ultragold ridden by Harry Cobden

 

 

Click here to read my Ladies’ Day Diary Part I

 

The favourite for today’s feature race was Min, trained by Willie Mullins and ridden by Paul Townend; price 11-10.  Min had finished as runner-up to Altior in this year’s Queen Mother Champion Chase, a race in which fellow competitor Politologue had finished 4th.  Also taking part today was Balko Des Flos, winner of the Ryanair Chase, and Le Prezien, winner of the Grand Annual.

There were two greys in the race, namely Cloudy Dream and the hooded Politologue. 

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. 

Le Prezien was a little keen going down to the start and overshot the first fence; the one which Barry Geraghty took him to look at shortly afterwards, although his mount wasn’t too keen to get in close to it!

STOP PRESS … the ambulance had finally escaped from the quagmire!!!

Race 4

Melling Chase (Grade 1)

Distance

2 miles 4 furlongs (16 fences to negotiate)

No. of Runners

6

Balko Des Flos, Cloudy Dream, Le Prezien, Min, Politologue, Sizing Granite

 

The flag was raised and the six runners edged towards the start; the tape flew up and then they were off.  Balko Des Flos led the horses to the first, from Min, Cloudy Dream, Politologue and Sizing Granite.  The first five cleared it okay, but Sizing Granite made an error which resulted in jockey Robbie Power losing his left iron; he reached down and quickly replaced his foot in the stirrup.

They continued their journey along the back straight to the next; the leader was five lengths clear of his nearest rivals.  Politologue and Min disputed second position; the latter was keen.  There were no noticeable errors at this one and the horses continued to the first of the open-ditches; again there were no problems, although Min did have to reach for it.

The runners headed across the sanded track-way on their way to the fourth fence; Balko Des Flos remained well clear of his rivals jumping this one and Le Prezien was less than fluent.  They subsequently headed into the far turn, with Balko Des Flos leading from Politologue, Min, Cloudy Dream, Le Prezien and Sizing Granite.

The cross-fence presented no problems and these experienced chasers continued into the home straight on their journey to the sixth fence; once again there were no jumping errors here.  The following fence was an open-ditch; Politologue put in a big leap over this one and again Le Prezien was the least fluent.

Their route now took them across the Grand National course, between the 14th/30th fence and The Chair to be precise, before they reached the eighth; yet again Le Prezien was less than fluent and he now disputed last place with Sizing Granite.  Balko Des Flos led by just two lengths as the horses continued down past the grandstands and winning post with one circuit now to travel.

The leader extended his advantage as they approached the first fence in the back straight; both he and Min reached for it, Sizing Granite made an error here as he’d done on the first circuit also, and Le Prezien, which had been relegated to last place, was slow.  The latter was pushed along for a few strides after the fence, before Barry Geraghty decided to call it a day and pulled him up.

Meanwhile the remaining five continued to the next fence, the tenth; Politologue got a little bit close to this one.  Balko Des Flos remained three lengths clear of his rivals as they headed to the penultimate open-ditch, from Politologue, Min, Cloudy Dream and Sizing Granite; the quintet cleared it okay, although Cloudy Dream jumped it slower than the others. 

The runners subsequently headed across the sanded track-way to reach the final fence in the back straight.  Politologue got a little close to this one and Robbie Power had to regain his rhythm aboard Sizing Granite having landed over it.  Davy Russell’s mount was a couple of lengths clear of Politologue and Min as they headed into the far turn; Cloudy Dream was a further two lengths behind these and Sizing Granite the same distance in rear.

All five jumped the cross-fence okay before heading around the bend to enter the home straight.  Balko Des Flos was just a length ahead now and Cloudy Dream had been relegated to last position.  In fact as the runners straightened up, Paul Townend had to take a pull on Min to prevent him going on too early. 

The long-time leader came wide on his approach to three out, whereas his two main rivals stayed to the far side.  Balko Des Flow stretched for this one but landed safely, meanwhile Min and Politologue now took a narrow advantage.  Two out was the final open-ditch and the grey landed slightly ahead of the favourite who’d jumped out slightly to his right.

The battle was joined as the leading duo travelled across the Grand National course on their way to the final fence; the two horses coming very close together as they did so.  Min got his head in front, just, but Politologue soon fought back.  They jumped the last almost in unison and the grey had clawed back half a length’s advantage as they passed the half-furlong post. 

It turned out to be a battle royal all the way to the line, with Min fighting back to regain some of the deficit but Politologue wasn’t for passing and won by a neck at the line.  It was just desserts for the grey following last year’s disappointment when he’d tripped up after the last in the Grade 1 Maghull Novices’ Chase on Grand National Day.        

Sizing Granite came home in 3rd position, 20 lengths behind the front two, with Balko Des Flos 4th and Cloudy Dream 5th. 

The hood had been put back on Politologue today, and he wore a first-time tongue tie too.  Min was out-stayed; Davy Russell said a long-season had told with Balko Des Flos.   

Result

Horse

Jockey

Trainer

1st

Politologue

Paul Nicholls

Sam Twiston-Davies

2nd

Min

Willie Mullins

Paul Townend

3rd

Sizing Granite

Colin Tizzard

Robbie Power

4th

Balko Des Flos

Henry de Bromhead

Davy Russell

 

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

 

Race 4 - 3:25pm

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

 

Permission was given for POLITOLOGUE (FR) to lead the Parade and MIN (FR) wore earplugs throughout the race.

Following the race, Davy Russell reported that BALKO DES FLOS (FR), placed fourth, weakened quickly after jumping the second last fence. The Veterinary Officer reported that a post-race examination of the gelding, during routine testing, failed to reveal any abnormalities. The Veterinary Officer further reported that the winner, POLITOLOGUE (FR), lost its right hind shoe and SIZING GRANITE (IRE), placed third, lost its left hind shoe.

The favourite for the next race was Polidam, trained by Willie Mullins and ridden by Daryl Jacob; price 9-1.

 

Last year’s winner, the Colin Tizzard-trained Ultragold, was taking part; partnered again by Harry Cobden.  However, he’d lost his way this year, apart from finishing as runner-up in this season’s Grand Sefton Chase over the Grand National course.

My un-bet upon selection was Kilcrea Vale ridden by Jeremiah McGrath; a 12-1 shot.

There were three greys in the race, Flying Angel, Greybougg and Mystifiable; I like Greybougg, he is a pretty grey.

Jamie Bargary, who was riding Bigbadjohn, was dumped unceremoniously by his mount whilst heading out along the horse-walkway to the racecourse.  He crashed against the plastic rails; his colleagues asked him if he was okay ... he said he was. 

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. 

 

Race 5

Topham Chase Handicap (Grade 3)

Distance

2 miles 5 furlongs 110 yards (18 fences)

No. of Runners

27

Devils Bride, O O Seven, Top Gamble, Village Vic, Clarcam, Flying Angel, Polidam, Bouvreuil, Ultragold, Eastlake, Midnight Shot, Bigbadjohn , Ballyalton, Deauville Dancer, Kilcrea Vale, Shanahan’s Turn, Beau Bay, Rathlin Rose, Theatre Territory, Indian Temple, Notarfbad, Minella On Line, Newsworthy, Rogue Angel, Greybougg, Mystifiable, Flying Eagle

 

The horses were ready to go well ahead of time, so were sent back towards the beginning of the two mile chute before returning.  Greybougg was late joining them and Indian Temple even more so.  Having turned to head back towards the starting gate, the competitors were well-behaved initially.  However, the closer they got to the tape, the faster they progressed, and Deauville Dancer was behind the others too.  The Starter, Robbie Supple, was having none of it and refused to let them go first time.  

Once at the line, there was a brief impasse as a number of jockeys refused to take a turn, and Flying Angel was also stuck side-on; everyone wanted to retain their hard fought position.  They took a turn, but failed to go back far enough before returning to the starting line; this time Newsworthy was facing in totally the wrong direction and refused to budge despite his jockey’s urgings.

Newsworthy finally turned, but Robbie had to send them away for a second time; they lined up okay now … apart from Ballyalton; fortunately Tom O’Brien managed to turn him around without too much fuss.  It looked like they’d be off this time, until a couple at the end of the line decided to break rank.  After a few moments, however, everything was sorted and then they were off and heading for the first fence; in rear were Midnight Shot and Flying Eagle.  The commentator reported that the starting tape became wrapped around Richard Johnson’s neck initially!

Leading over the first were last year’s winner Ultragold, also Greybougg and Indian Temple; also prominent were Kilcrea Vale, Flying Angel and Rathlin Rose.  The blinkered Flying Eagle didn’t live up to his name, catching is hind-legs in the fence and shooting Sean Bowen over his head as a result; the only one flying was his jockey!

This left 26 runners to head to the second fence, which they all cleared without incident.  Greybougg and Ultragold spearheaded the field as they continued to The Chair.  All of the horses cleared it but, as the competitors headed away from the fence, it soon became apparent that two jockeys had been unseated and were now lying on landing side; the departures were Newsworthy and Bigbadjohn.  Bouvreuil made a bad mistake but survived.  All three of the loose horses were okay and continued after the field. 

With the field having already been reduced to 24, they galloped towards and over the water-jump before heading around the bottom bend and out into the country for the one and only time.  Ultragold continued to dispute the lead with Greybougg, from Flying Angel, Minella On Line, Rathlin Rose, Eastlake, Kilcrea Vale, Indian Temple and Theatre Territory. 

The runners fanned out as they crossed the Melling Road and journeyed to the fifth fence; the competitors cleared this without incident.  Ultragold, Greybougg and Minella On Line continued at the head of affairs as they travelled to the next; the latter made an error here but survived.  The current backmarker was Rogue Angel. 

The next fence was the open-ditch; known as ‘Westhead’.  Beau Bay hit this one and shot Will Kennedy over his head whilst travelling to the inside in mid-field.  He hampered Polidam slightly, and also Midnight Shot.  This left 23 runners to continue to the seventh fence, which they all cleared okay.  Theatre Territory had improved into fourth position now; her pilot Sam Waley-Cohen.

The field continued their journey to the one before Becher’s, where Minella On Line made another error and Conor Shoemark had to reach down to replace his foot in the left iron.  There were no departures here, although O O Seven was pulled up before Becher’s Brook with jockey Aidan Coleman later reporting that his mount had never been ‘travelling’ today.     

Aintree’s most famous fence failed to claim any casualties today, although the favourite did peck on landing.  Greybougg was marginally ahead of last year’s winner as they continued to Fionavon; he was enjoying himself, with ears pricked.  The innocuous fence claimed Minella On Line who caught his hind-legs in the obstacle and shot his jockey over his head; Bouvreuil was slightly hampered.

Meanwhile the remaining 21 competitors continued to the Canal Turn.  The grey was angled out very wide before sweeping back towards the fence, but he nearly got caught out as one of the loose horses came up his inside; this resulted in a wider course than hoped.  In fact it was fortunate he wasn’t carried out at this point. 

This enabled Ultragold to sneak up the inside and take the advantage as the runners headed over Valentines Brook, although he did make an error here.  Taking the fence behind the leading duo were Shanahan’s Turn, Village Vic and Theatre Territory.  Kilcrea Vale was beginning to lose touch with the main group and, even further back but still going, were Midnight Shot, Rogue Angel, Notarfbad, and Devils Bride. 

The runners continued on their journey down the side of the course; their next fence a plain one, five from home.  Richard Johnson aboard Village Vic had to re-gather his reins having landed over this one.  Ultragold was currently leading, from Greybougg, Theatre Territory and Indian Temple. 

The following fence was the final open-ditch and Rathlin Rose fell here.  He had been travelling towards the back of the main group and hampered Polidam, Kilcrea Vale and the grey Mystifiable.  Notarfbad and Midnight Shot were pulled up before the ditch; Rogue Angel after it.  The remaining runners continued to three out, which Ultragold flew over barely touching a twig; in contrast Greybougg blundered here.  Having weakened significantly, Village Vic was pulled up. 

Ultragold led the runners back across the Melling Road; his long-time companion was tiring now and dropped back through the field.  Theatre Territory was hot on the heels of the leader, from Shanahan’s Turn, Indian Temple, Clarcam and Ballyalton.  The second group consisted of Greybougg, Eastlake, Deauville Dancer, Top Gamble, the improving Kilcrea Vale, Polidam and Flying Angel.  Mystifiable continued also, as did Devils Bride; the latter was so far behind that he couldn’t be sighted at this stage!  Sam Twiston-Davies decided to pull up Bouvreuil on the home turn.

Harry Cobden’s mount still held the advantage as they cleared the second last, with Theatre Territory continuing to press him to the far side and with a loose horse for company to the nearside as they galloped to the final obstacle.  There were a few worrying moments having cleared it, when it appeared that the loose horse might hamper the leader as he headed for the elbow.  However, Harry was able to switch behind him and, latterly, the rider-less horse was guided by the tape stretched across the track and remained upon the correct trajectory just ahead of the leader.

Meanwhile, Shanahan’s Turn was staying on behind him and he soon moved into second position, overtaking the Waley-Cohen mare.  The loose horse kept straight as the leaders headed down the final stretch and Ultragold was switched back to the rail, following it all the way to the line to win by 3¾ lengths.  The winning jockey waved his whip in celebration as he crossed the line; the partnership having claimed the race for the second year running.

Theatre Territory held on for third place, 6 lengths behind the runner-up and Kilcrea Vale stayed on to claim 4th.  Ballyalton was 5th, Clarcam 6th, Indian Temple 7th, Top Gamble 8th, Polidam 9th, Flying Angel 10th, Mystyfiable 11th, Deauville Dancer 12th, Eastlake 13th and in last place, 182 lengths behind the winner, Devils Bride!  Greybougg was pulled up before the last; the jockey reported he’d hung left-handed – he’d also been struck into on his left fore. 

Both the winner and the runner-up were trained by Colin Tizzard. Ultragold was only the fourth horse to win back-to-back runnings of the TophamCulworth in 50/51, Roughan in 57/58 and Always Waining who won it three times in 2010, 2011 and 2012!

Harry Cobden described his mount as ‘such a lovely horse; he does whatever you ask him’ and ‘he’s a pleasure to ride’.  The horse is part-owned by Terry Warner, along with Brocade Racing and Mr John Romans.   

It was also confirmed that all horses and jockeys returned safe.  An enquiry was held into the incident with the starting tape, which had resulted in a number of jockeys having to duck, including Barry Geraghty aboard Eastlake and Davy Russell on Clarcam, in order to avoid it. 

Result

Horse

Jockey

Trainer

1st

Ultragold

Colin Tizzard

Harry Cobden

2nd

Shanahan’s Turn

Colin Tizzard

Robbie Power

3rd

Theatre Territory

Warren Greatrex

Mr Sam Waley-Cohen

4th

Kilcrea Vale

Nicky Henderson

Jeremiah McGrath

5th

Ballyalton

Ian Williams

Tom O’Brien

6th

Clarcam

Gordon Elliott

Davy Russell

7th

Indian Temple

Tim Reed

Harry Reed

8th

Top Gamble

Kerry Lee

James Bowen

9th

Polidam

Willie Mullins

Daryl Jacob

10th

Flying Angel

Nigel Twiston-Davies

Tom Bellamy

11th

Mystifiable

Fergal O’Brien

Paddy Brennan

12th

Deauville Dancer

David Dennis

Brian Hughes

13th

Eastlake

Jonjo O’Neill

Barry Geraghty

14th

Devils Bride

Henry de Bromhead

J J Slevin

 

And those which did not finish:

 

Pulled Up

Before last

Greybougg

Nigel Hawke

Conor O’Farrell

Pulled Up

Before 2 out

Bouvreuil

Paul Nicholls

Sam Twiston-Davies

Pulled Up

Before 3 out

Rogue Angel

Mouse Morris

Rachael Blackmore

Fell

4 out

Rathlin Rose

David Pipe

Tom Scudamore

Pulled Up

Before 4 out

Village Vic

Philip Hobbs

Richard Johnson

Pulled Up

Before 4 out

Notarfbad

Jeremy Scott

Matt Griffiths

Pulled Up

Before 4 out

Midnight Shot

Charlie Longsdon

Jonathan Burke

Unseated

11th fence (Fionavon)

Minella On Line

Oliver Sherwood

Conor Shoemark

Pulled Up

Before 10th (Becher’s Brook)

O O Seven

Nicky Henderson

Aidan Coleman

Unseated

7th fence

Beau Bay

Dr Richard Newland

Will Kennedy

Unseated

3rd fence (The Chair)

Newsworthy

Mrs D A Love

Jonathan Moore

Unseated

3rd fence (The Chair)

Bigbadjohn

Nigel Twiston-Davies

Jamie Bargary

Unseated

1st fence

Flying Eagle

Peter Bowen

Sean Bowen

 

Two side-saddle mounted ladies accompanied the winner back to the Winners’ Enclosure; according to the race-card it was Beatrice Robinson and Katie Yeo. 

 

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

 

Sadly, in August, Mystifiable passed away as a result of a twisted gut.  RIP

 

Race 5 - 4:05pm

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

 

RATHLIN ROSE (IRE) wore earplugs which were removed at the start.

Having reviewed recordings of the false start, the Starters were satisfied that no riders should be reported for contravening the starting procedures.

An enquiry was held into the start of this race. The Starters, Assistant Head Groundsman, Richard Johnson, the rider of VILLAGE VIC (IRE), Davy Russell, the rider of CLARCAM (FR) and Daryl Jacob, the rider of POLIDAM (FR), were interviewed. Having heard their evidence where the Starter stated that after effecting the start, as the runners galloped away from him, he realised that part of the tape had not risen sufficiently on the inside, causing several jockeys to have to duck in order to avoid the tape. The riders interviewed stated that they had ducked to avoid the tape and had not suffered any disadvantage as a result. The Starter further stated that all pre-race procedures in testing the starting mechanism had been completed satisfactorily and could offer no explanation how this malfunction had occurred. Their explanations were noted and a report forwarded to the Head Office of the British Horseracing Authority for their consideration.

The winner, ULTRAGOLD (FR), appeared to show improved form, compared with its previous run at Cheltenham on 15 March 2018 where the gelding finished thirteenth of twenty-two, beaten by 46 lengths. Colin Tizzard’s representative’s explanation was noted that ULTRAGOLD (FR) appreciated the return to Aintree having performed well there in the past. The gelding was routine tested.

Following the race, Aidan Coleman reported that O O SEVEN (IRE), which was pulled up, was never travelling comfortably. Daryl Jacob reported that POLIDAM (FR), placed ninth, suffered interference on several occasions throughout the race and weakened after passing the Elbow. The Veterinary Officer subsequently reported that POLIDAM (FR) lost both its front shoes and the gelding was routine tested. Conor O’Farrell reported that GREYBOUGG, which was pulled up, hung left-handed. The Veterinary Officer subsequently reported that the gelding was struck into on its left fore. The Veterinary Officer further reported that FLYING ANGEL (IRE), placed tenth, lost its right hind shoe and BALLYALTON (IRE), placed fifth, lost its right fore shoe and was struck into on its right fore.

 

The favourite for the penultimate race of the day was Santini, trained by Nicky Henderson and ridden by Nico de Boinville; price 6-4.

Alan King was represented in this race by Good Man Pat, sporting the familiar yellow with red spots silks of owner David Sewell; Tom Bellamy rode.  Jamie Snowden also had a runner in this race, namely Dans Le Vent ridden by Gavin Sheehan; Jamie and one of the owners watched the race from the Earl of Derby stand steppings.

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. 

 

Race 6

Sefton Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 1)

Distance

3 miles 110 yards (13 hurdles to negotiate)

No. of Runners

13

Another Stowaway, Chef Des Obeaux, Count Meribel, Dans Le Vent, Good Man Pat, Louse Talk, OK Corral, Point Of Principle, Sam’s Gunner, Santini, Tower Bridge, Uppertown Prince, Roksana

 

It was a very-organised start for this one, and then they were off at a sensible pace for three mile novices in testing ground.  Jamie Snowden’s charge led them away, from the favourite Santini, Uppertown Prince, Point Of Principle, Good Man Pat against the inside rail, OK Corral, Louse Talk to the outer, Tower Bridge, Chef Des Obeaux, Another Stowaway, the mare Roksana, Sam’s Gunner and Count Meribel. 

Santini jumped into the lead at the first flight, after which Nico de Boinville restrained him; this enabled Dans Le Vent to take a narrow advantage once more.  The thirteen runners headed down past the packed grandstands and winning post, with two full circuits now to travel. 

Dans Le Vent continued to lead as the horses entered the back straight on their journey to the second flight.  They all negotiated this safely, although Uppertown Prince did stumble slightly on landing.  The competitors continued to the third, where Good Man Pat dragged his hind-legs through the hurdle.

They raced on, crossing the sanded track-way on their way towards the final obstacle in the back straight.  There were no obvious errors as they cleared this one.  Dans Le Vent continued to spearhead the field as the runners headed into the far turn; at the rear of the field were Another Stowaway, Roksana and Sam’s Gunner. 

The pace being set was steady, and the runners well-grouped, as they continued around the far turn and into the home straight.  Gavin Sheehan’s mount was enjoying himself, leading the field, as he travelled with ears pricked for part of the time.  Having reached the fifth flight, Chef Des Obeaux was slightly less fluent than his rivals over this one.

The leading trio of Dans Le Vent, Santini and Point Of Principle were almost three in a line as they jumped the sixth flight; OK Corral clattered through the top of it.  The runners continued their progress down the home straight, with Dans Le Vent leading the way and the field still closely grouped.  They cleared the seventh hurdle in their stride, after which Sam’s Gunner was pushed along.

With all 13 runners still in the race, they continued down past the packed grandstands once more, with no change at the head of affairs.  Heading around the bottom turn, the order was Dans Le Vent, Santini, Point Of Principle, Uppertown Prince, OK Corral, Good Man Pat, Chef Des Obeaux, Tower Bridge, Count Meribel, Louse Talk, Roksana, Another Stowaway and the still pushed-along Sam’s Gunner. 

The leading three jumped the first flight in the back straight in unison; at the back of the field, Another Stowaway was pushed away from it.  They continued on to the next where, once again, Good Man Pat dragged his hind-legs through it.  It’s strange that horses seem to make mistakes at the same obstacle on different circuits; you might understand it at a fence, but at a hurdle on a flat track like Aintree? 

Anyway, they continued their journey along the back straight, crossing over the sanded track-way on their way to the fourth last flight.  Having cleared this one, Louse Talk was now also pushed along.  The runners headed into the far bend and another two runners began to show the first signs of distress, namely Chef Des Obeaux and Count Meribel.  Good Man Pat soon joined them; leaving a group of seven clear of the remainder as they began to swing into the home straight.

These seven; Dans Le Vent, Santini, Uppertown Prince, the urged along Point Of Principle, OK Corral, Roksana and Tower Bridge, continued on their way to the third last.  Meanwhile, Louse Talk, Another Stowaway, Sam’s Gunner and Chef Des Obeaux were pulled up. 

Jamie Snowden’s runner jumped the flight in unison with Santini; the former to the far side and the latter to the nearside of the obstacle.  Having cleared it, Nico de Boinville forged on into the lead as they continued to two out.  Dans Le Vent, OK Corral and Uppertown Boy were vying for second spot as they jumped it.  Point Of Principle had been left well behind by this stage, with Tower Bridge and Roksana laying down their challenges in the centre of the track.

Santini continued to plot a lonely course towards the stands-side as the leaders headed to the final flight and he was only marginally ahead of the mare as they jumped it; she’d drifted away to her left latterly.  The mare flashed her tail as they began their journey down the run-in and they both edged to their left.  However, Santini stayed on more strongly than his rival and went on to win by 1½ lengths at the line.   

JP McManus’ second-string, Tower Bridge, claimed 3rd, 6 lengths further back, with Uppertown Prince 4th; JP’s first-string, OK Corral, fading into 5th.  Dans Le Vent was a creditable 6th and, last but not least, was Point Of Principle.  Good Man Pat was pulled up before two out and Count Meribel before the last.

There were actually 10 prizes; with Dans Le Vent winning £1,100.  The unclaimed prize money would have gone to the winner too, although that was only £270 plus £140 and £70 … on top of £42,960!    

Result

Horse

Jockey

Trainer

1st

Santini

Nicky Henderson

Nico de Boinville

2nd

Roksana

Dan Skelton

Harry Skelton

3rd

Tower Bridge

Joseph Patrick O’Brien

J J Slevin

4th

Uppertown Prince

Donald McCain

Brian Hughes

 

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)

 

SANTINI wore earplugs which were removed at the start.

UPPERTOWN PRINCE (IRE), placed fourth, did not enter the winner’s enclosure on veterinary advice.

Following the race, the Veterinary Officer reported that LOUSE TALK (IRE), which was pulled up, lost its right fore shoe, POINT OF PRINCIPLE (IRE), placed seventh, lost it right fore shoe and the winner, SANTINI, lost its right hind shoe.

 

The favourite for the final race of the day was the Paul Nicholls-trained Danny Kirwan, ridden by Sam Twiston-Davies; price 11-4.  He’s a very good looking horse.

Alan King had a runner in this race; Harambe ridden by Tom Bellamy. 

There were four greys – Al Dancer, Dali Mail, Highland Hunter and Kateson; the latter is the son of Silver Kate.

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

20

Al Dancer, Amoola Gold, Arthur Mac, Chanceanotherfive, Commanche Red, Dali Mail, Danny Kirwin, Dazibao, Harambe, Highland Hunter, Kateson, Mercy Mercy, Portrush Ted, Pym, Sevarano, Skidoosh, Theatre Legend, Thosedaysaregone, Mister Fisher, Normal Norman

 

And then they were off, with the Ben Pauling-trained Skidoosh leading the way, from Portrush Ted, as the horses headed along the side of the course; Dazibao brought up the rear.  In mid-field, Dali Mail was keen.

Skidoosh led the runners into the home straight on the first occasion, with around 10 to 12 lengths covering the field.  Portrush Ted remained in second position, from Chanceanotherfive, Highland Hunter, Mister Fisher, Commanche Red, Normal Norman, Arthur Mac, Highland Hunter, Harambe, Mercy Mercy Me, Theatre Legend, Amoola Gold, Danny Kirwan, Pym, Sevarano, Al Dancer, Kateson, Thosedaysaregone, and Dazibao. 

There was no change at the head of affairs as the runners headed down through the three sets of empty hurdle wings whilst on their journey towards the winning post; Dazibao remained at the rear of the field.  They subsequently swung left-handed at the grandstand turn to continue around the bottom bend and into the back straight for the only time. 

The leader had a little bit of a ‘wobble’ just prior to the start of the section of rails denoting the hurdle track; signed with an ‘H’.  Jockey Daryl Jacob had to momentarily take a tug on the right rein to steer his mount to the outside of said rails.  The twenty runners continued their journey along the back straight; through three further sets of empty hurdle wings, and having also traversed the sanded track-way between the latter two sets.  There was still no change at the head of affairs and none had been dropped from the main group as the runners headed into the far turn; one circuit now completed. 

Heading along the side of the course, the field was led by Skidoosh, from Portrush Red, Arthur Mac, Chanceanotherfive, Commanche Red, Mister Fisher, Kateson, Theatre Legend, Mercy Mercy Me who stumbled briefly, Dali Mail, Highland Hunter, Sevarano, Harambe, Danny Kirwan, Al Dancer, Pym, Thosedaysaregone, Amoola Gold, Dazibao and Normal Norman.  The latter had completely lost touch before the runners turned into the home straight; he had been eased and would pull up before three furlongs out.  Shortly afterwards, Dazibao lost touch too.

Skidoosh relinquished the lead as the runners headed into the home straight, with Portrush Ted now taking over; his nearest challenger at present was Arthur Mac.  Meanwhile, Tom Bellamy was weaving his way through runners aboard Harambe and the partnership had assumed the runner-up position by the time the leaders headed through the penultimate set of empty hurdle wings.  Theatre Legend was struggling at the back of the main pack by this stage, as was the favourite Danny Kirwan.

Portrush Ted continued to hold the advantage, although he needed plenty of assistance from his jockey Gavin Sheehan, as the runners continued their journey down the home straight, heading for the gap between the final set of empty hurdle wings.  Harambe continued as his nearest pursuer, just a length or two behind, with Kateson laying down his challenge towards the stand-side too.  In fourth position, currently, was the hooded Al Dancer, from Severano and Commanche Red.

However the further they went, the better Portrush Ted travelled compared to his rivals; he thus extended his advantage, staying on strongly to win by 3¼ lengths at the line.  Having looked booked for the runner-up spot, Harambe was collared on the line by Kateson; the distance between them just a nose.  Al Dancer completed in 4th, 4 lengths further back, with Severano 5th, Commance Red 6th, Mercy Mercy Me 7th and Thosedaysaregone 8th. 

The disappointing favourite completed in 17th position, 59¼ lengths behind the winner!

Trainer Warren Greatrex had reunited with his former stable jockey Gavin Sheehan to win this one on the 25-1 shot!  

The winning prize was collected by Mr McNeill senior; the horse is affectionately known as ‘SuperTed’ by connections!

Result

Horse

Jockey

Trainer

1st

Portrush Ted

Warren Greatrex

Gavin Sheehan

2nd

Kateson

Tom Lacey

Tom Scudamore

3rd

Harambe

Alan King

Tom Bellamy

4th

Al Dancer

Nigel Twiston-Davies

Jamie Bargary

 

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)

 

Permission was given for MERCY MERCY ME to wear a hood in the Parade Ring.

The Veterinary Officer reported that a kit bag search of John Ryan, the trainer of NORMAL NORMAN, revealed possession of Restore-Lyte Gel, an electrolyte replacement supplement. John Ryan's representative, the Stable Inspecting Officer and the Veterinary Officer were interviewed. The trainer's representative’s explanation that it was unopened and had not been used was noted. Being satisfied that the gelding had received only normal food and water by mouth on the day of racing, the Stewards allowed NORMAL NORMAN to run and the gelding was routine tested. They further confiscated the substance, ordered that it be tested, and referred the matter to the Head Office of the British Horseracing Authority.

The performance of DANNY KIRWAN (IRE), which started favourite and finished unplaced, was considered. The representative of Paul Nicholls explained that although the gelding had only run twice, it has been in training a long time and is in need of a break. DANNY KIRWAN (IRE) was routine tested.

Following the race, Thomas Garner reported that NORMAL NORMAN, which was pulled up, stopped quickly and the Veterinary Officer reported that the gelding lost its left fore and both hind shoes.

Before setting off, we paid a visit to the ladies loo; always better safe than sorry.  Having been forced to use the one to the rear of the Lord Sefton stand earlier in the day, we paid a return trip to same. 

 

Our route back to the bus takes us through the betting ring; as always, and especially on Ladies Day and Grand National Day, the ground was strewn with rubbish, including plastic glasses, some of which were broken into shards.  I always feel very sorry for the people who have to clear up this terrible mess.  However, unlike in many previous years, the rubbish which had spilled out onto the racecourse had been kept to a minimum. 

 

Having taken the bus back to the car park, there were no queues to leave; it was 17:55.  We negotiated the Anchor Bridge and soon arrived at the T-junction with Aintree Lane; a barrier was in place, encouraging vehicles to turn left but, as the car ahead of us turned right, we did the same!

 

We subsequently wended our way to, and over the canal swing-bridge before reaching the traffic lights at the junction with the A506.  Whilst waiting to turn left, both Jonjo O’Neill’s and Jamie Snowden’s horseboxes drove past!

 

We continued down the dual carriageway, turning right at the roundabout and heading up the slip-road onto the M57.  We left one junction later in order to join the A580; we continued on this dual carriageway all the way back to the hotel at Stone Cross, a short distance to the east of the M6, arriving back at 18:30.

 

We obviously hadn’t expected to arrive back so early, as dinner was booked for 20:00.  Tonight’s meal was chicken escalope; it proved a little too much for me!  I drank two glasses of apple and mango J20 as I was parched, but still found room for the desert – warm chocolate fudge cake, with ice cream.  The service was far better tonight, although we were sat at one of two tables in the ‘corridor’!  Fortunately, though, it was the better of the two!

 

We stopped off at reception on the way back to our rooms; I’d run out of UHT milk.  The receptionist gave me a bag containing a further 9 of these.  I also helped myself to a couple of sugar sachets which were displayed on the reception counter.   

 

There was a guy in reception who was trying to find his hotel.  There was no booking at this particular Premier Inn, so the receptionist phoned another one located close by ... no, he wasn’t staying there either!  He said he’d check again with the person who’d booked the room for him.  

 

My friends on facebook informed me that they had seen me on the ITV News that evening.  I was standing next to two girls who had been posing for the camera; it was Ladies Day after all!  And, yes, I tuned in later and saw me too!!!

 

PHOTOS – Aintree Festival Day 2 (Index)

 

 

 

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