PART I

DIARY – AINTREE FESTIVAL

GRAND OPENING DAY

THURSDAY 03 APRIL 2014

 

 

 

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Sam Twiston-Davies is thrilled to have won the

Grade 1 Aintree Hurdle aboard The New One

 

 

 

It was a busy period between the Cheltenham and Aintree Festivals this year, having also attended Kempton Park and Newbury during this time.  But, having said that, by the end of the previous weekend my website backlog was in a position where I felt satisfied that I could leave it for a few weeks without fear that detail would be lost on any of my diaries; in other words I’d completed all the background information and just needed to add the race comments from the DVD recordings.  That would be a late spring and summer job, going forwards. 

 

My packing began on the previous Sunday, with decisions still being made the day before I set off.  Extreme mix and match; so much so that I couldn’t decide exactly which clothing items were to be worn together.  My navy blue skirt was discarded, but this only added to the mix and match dilemmas.  I had to take the forecasted weather into account too; not exactly cold, but definitely patches of dampness in the outlook.  In the end I settled for three winter skirts and two summer ones ... yes, I know that I was only going away for three days!  I’d wear my grey BHS skirt on Thursday (as it didn’t make its planned appearance at Cheltenham) and then play it by ear depending on the prevailing weather conditions. 

 

The only thing that it proved was that I don’t have a black jacket, or at least not one which is fit to wear for ‘best’.  I thought I’d take a look in the shops for a black jacket, just in case I could find one although unlikely I’d need it for Aintree; instead I found a black winter coat in BHS, marked as sale price £25 and when I took it to the till to pay, the charge was £20.  A bargain which I couldn’t resist, and it will come in handy for chilly autumn and spring days at the races and will go with everything.  It can also be brightened with a scarf because it has lapels rather than a funnel-neck as is often the case with my other coats. I also have a fancy for a turquoise or petrol blue winter jacket, in the same style as my cerise and mauve BHS ones; it seems to be an ongoing style at BHS, so perhaps they will do this colour next season, with the hope I can also find it in my size.

 

Unfortunately my mini shopping spree also took me to Hotter Shoes ... I’ve been in the shop a number of times to admire their footwear, although they are twice as expensive as my usual choice of Footgloves at M & S ... but not when compared to footwear at other quality shoe stores!  I’d had my eyes on the style named ‘Clarissa’ and finally decided to ask if I could try on a pair; maybe wide fit, maybe not.  I liked the pale pink best, but that was only available in standard fit.  I tried on the cream in wide fit and they were actually too big so I asked to try on the pink and they fitted perfectly.  I liked the cream but they didn’t have a standard fit size 8 pair in stock (nor on the website ... it must be the popular colour) so I asked to try the black instead.  I thus bought both pairs, although with a £25 discount for a dual purchase.  But still £125 in total  ... ouch, ouch, ouch.  I’m looking forward to their winter range of colours as, last year, they manufactured this style in a mauvey/purple colour ... and that would be just so me!!!  And I could do with a pair in navy too ... I must hide my credit cards until autumn ... with just one special exception ... my Aintree 2015 tickets. 

 

I worked on Monday and Tuesday, and took Wednesday as annual leave in case of any last minute panics.  Fortunately I appeared to have everything I needed when I packed, so I remained at home all day.  I did some last minute ironing and, as mentioned earlier, some last minute mixing and matching!  I watched the racing from Wincanton, where Choc had one riding engagement.  Racing had been a ‘Choc free’ zone since the previous Wednesday, four days of which (Friday through to Monday) had been a result of a ban incurred when riding Montbazon in the County Hurdle at Cheltenham.   

 

Allowing two hours to get ready, I set my alarm clock for approximately 03:30 on Thursday morning; having turned in early at 20:15 but probably not dropped off to sleep until gone 21:15.  And I woke up thirsty at 01:00, going downstairs to get a drink of water.  The analogue alarm sounded at 03:20 and I rose 10 minutes later.

 

I showered and washed and dried my hair; ate a breakfast of two Weetabix and raisins ... just for a change NOT ... applied my make-up and then ran through my written checklist for the final time to ensure I’d not forgotten anything; this included packing my hairdryer as I like to use one with a comb attachment rather than the one provided in the room by Premier Inn.  If left to its own devices, my short hair will curl in places although it doesn’t go frizzy.  And here is a beautiful blonde Choccie curl ... 

 

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I digress ... anyway, today’s completed outfit was three thermal t-shirts (violet, pink and purple), cerise M & S frill-edged cardigan, bright purple fleece, black gillet, grey BHS skirt, black BHS coat, M & S black/white horse snood, River Island flowered scarf, and burgundy wedge shoes.  Plus capacious burgundy Next handbag and oblong Fired Creations cerise/turquoise/bronze pendant, plus earrings; I’d wear the same jewellery every day.  

 

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Fired Creations jewellery

(they are not a set

but look great together)

 

BHS skirt with rear hem detail

 

Cerise M & S frill-edged cardigan

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Bright Purple M & S fleece

River Island scarf left

Bargain BHS coat

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M & S snood

Burgundy M & S wedges centre

 

I needed to strip off the car cover before backing the car out of the carport; having washed my car on Sunday I had protected it from dust, especially that of the Sahara variety plaguing the country at the present time.  There was a peculiar and prevailing smell in the air too, I wondered if that was the dust too.  Having loaded up the car, I was ready to depart at 05:34. 

Being even earlier than my departure times for the Cheltenham Festival, it was still dark.  Herts County Council no longer lights the streets in my home City at night, apart from the main roads; the ring-road was therefore in darkness, excluding the junctions.  At one of the crossroads there were temporary traffic lights and road-works, the permanent lights appearing to have been removed; these were displaying green so I was not delayed. 

My route took me to Harpenden, where I turned left through the very exclusive West Common area to arrive at the Redbourn bypass.  A right-turn enabled me to reach Junction 9 of the M1 motorway, where I joined the northbound carriageway.

The journey north-westwards went smoothly; although I find lorries overtaking each other very tiresome at times.  Many change lane with no concern to those vehicles overtaking them, and then they take miles ... and miles ... and miles to overtake other lorries which are travelling just a fraction slower than they are!

The fields surrounding the motorway were misty, but the road itself was clear, apart from an area of fog between Leicester and the Derby turning; possibly near Beacon Hill?  The temperature for much of the journey was 9 degrees centigrade.

As with all my previous trips to Aintree, my route north took me to Junction 23a, after which I headed westwards along the A50, which bypasses Derby and Uttoxeter to reach Stoke On Trent.  Although a dual carriageway, it does provide a welcome break from the monotony of the motorway.  My usual journey plan is to be in Stoke by 08:00 and I arrived 10 minutes earlier than that today; although traffic was heavier than previously recalled, and slow moving having reached the underpasses and slip-roads.    

Upon reaching the traffic light controlled junction close to the city centre, I turned left along the A500 which runs down to join the M6 motorway at junction 15, where I joined the northbound carriageway.

There were no traffic problems on this stretch of the motorway and within the hour I’d crossed the Mersey bridge.  Shortly afterwards I reached the M62 turning and headed west towards Liverpool.  Now every year I stop off at the Burtonwood Services; although this year I was a little confused as to which junction this was situated at.  I thought it was the second junction, but couldn’t see a signpost, so moved out of the inside lane and then had to change back again because my initial hunch was correct!  

The Service station is actually located next to the eastbound carriageway so, to reach it, I had to take the slip-road, negotiate the roundabout and then head part way down the opposite slip-road before entering the Welcome Break parking area.  My first priority was a trip to the loo, so I parked up briefly.  The loo doors were a little worse for wear, as two didn’t even have locks on them, and the third one I tried (and used) wouldn’t fasten.

Having returned to my car, I drove around to the petrol station to fill my car’s tank, cost £24.33, and then returned to the car park once more.  I decided to eat three of the cheese rolls which I’d brought with me. 

At 09:30 I set off once more; rejoining the M62 and heading towards Liverpool.  At Junction 6 I took the slip-road to join the M57 and headed north-westwards to Aintree.  At the end of the motorway I turned sharp left and drove down the Ormskirk Road, past the Asda supermarket and under the railway bridge.  At the traffic lights I turned left, and drove along Aintree Lane to the Melling Road Steeplechase car park entrance.

For the record, badge No.1 for the Earl of Derby Enclosure today; parking docket No.41.  I showed my parking docket to the young steward at the entrance, he turned out to be a bit of a ‘Job’s Worth’.  “Do you have a ticket?”  Errh, yes!  Having been given the go ahead, I drove over the Anchor Bridge, across the Grand National track, and down one of the coned lanes to reach the area where my car would be security checked.  I was in the right-hand lane by the time I arrived in this area; I can’t recall whether I’d started off in this lane or whether I’d been instructed to change by a steward dependent on the length of the queues! 

However, this year, the bonnet wouldn’t open; or rather it opened 2 inches and would open no further.  Great; I’d told my garage to check the bonnet catch when my car was serviced in mid-February. It transpired that the plastic ‘tongue’ had become wedged behind the radiator, just like last year.  And I’ve not even opened the bonnet since it was serviced. Once again I got grease on my hands as I tried to free it; I had no luck whatsoever.  No surprise there then.  But at least the steward was able to click it closed again ... unlike last year.  Poodles; something to sort out when I get home.     

I hung the parking docket from the rear view mirror, put on my coat and scarf, and changed into my burgundy wedge shoes, I set off to walk up the driveway to the entrance.   My ticket was scanned, my handbag searched by an unfortunate steward who had to rummage through the numerous items within.  My body was then scanned for dangerous objects; I shared a joke with the older steward carrying out this task.

 

Having been cleared, I set off across the Melling Road, the back straight of the park course and the all-weather gallop to reach a bus parked beside the road which runs to the inside of the track.  Once full, the vehicle drove its passengers around to the course crossing point opposite the grandstands, situated between The Chair and the water-jump.  Having reached the concourse I headed for the loo again; unfortunately the door to my usual one to the side of the Earl of Derby stand was locked (I’m a woman of habit), so I decided to check out the one to the rear of the stand.  It was deserted at this time of the morning (just gone 10:30); I’d found a new favourite loo!!!

 

I then went in search of an official race-card; and located the kiosk close to the main Ormskirk Road entrance.  Having purchased a copy for £4, I then headed to the steppings below the Weighing Room.  Having found myself a good vantage point where I could lean on the safety rail and rest my heavy handbag on the concrete, who should pass by but Richard Pitman.  And he passed the time of day with me too ... He said “You’ve found a good spot there, but might need a thermos” or words to that effect.  I replied that I do normally take a thermos to the races (that’s with black coffee in, not alcohol, which I leave in the car) but I didn’t have it with me today!  Although I’ve recently given up black coffee, because it has begun to aggrevate my acid reflux something chronic, resulting in heartburn.  

 

RUK’s Gordon Brown (as opposed to ex-Prime Minister Gordon Brown ... I’d have run a mile if the latter, my politics being right of centre, not left) announced that at 11:30 a plaque located upon the wall next to the Freebooter Press Room commemorating a ‘friend of Aintree’ would be unveiled; it was metres from where I was standing.  Lord Peter Daresbury (whose family owned the Greenall’s Brewery empire before it was purchased by the De Veres Group, and father of jockey Oliver Greenall), serving his final year as the racecourse Chairman, would be doing the honours.  The only problem is, if not already knowing who the ‘Ivan’ mentioned by Lord Daresbury during his speech was, you’d never have had a clue!  Major Ivan Straker.     

 

The ‘race time’ Aintree stewards arrived for a briefing, carried out within the Parade Ring.  The G4S stewards were also briefed, close to the Winners’ Enclosure.  There were a number of people wandering around carrying out business conversations on their mobile phones ... take a break or go to work ... don’t bring your work to the races.  People spotted included Mick Fitzgerald, Sam Waley-Cohen’s dad Robert, RUK presenter Tom O’Ryan, and Channel 4’s Clare Balding.  Also presenters Oli Bell and Rishi Persad.  The race commentators tested the sound system too.     

 

Whilst standing on the steppings, and throughout the day too, I’d suffer from intermittent neck pain and the resulting headache symptoms too; this had begun at work the previous week.  Food rations during the races were a box each of M & S sweets – Strawberries and Cream, Rhubarb and Custard, and Butterscotch.  All come highly recommended, by me!

 

It was getting a little chilly by noon, so I was pleased that I’d worn a coat, rather than a jacket.  The crowd was more of your traditional racing crowd today, rather than those who don’t know one end of a horse from another, but there were still a number of ‘ladies’ severely underdressed for the prevailing weather conditions. 

 

Prior to the horses arriving in the Paddock ahead of the first race, there was a ROR (Retraining of Racehorses) parade.  Nine of the promised ten horses turned up – Whatcanyasay (Showing), Schuh Shine (Dressage), Next To Nothing (Eventing), Monet’s Garden (Showing), Inchloss (Horseball), Moving Picture (Horseball), Comply or Die (Hunting), Nacarat (Hunting) and Scots Grey (Team Chasing); Sentry Duty was the one horse missing from the line-up who was mentioned in the race-card. 

 

Whilst I was standing upon the steppings, and during the ROR parade, there was a photo-call for a number of jockeys.  Having left the Weighing Room they headed out through the Parade Ring and exited the far gate, accompanied by a photographer.  I don’t know what it was in aid of, but they included Richard Johnson, Denis O’Regan, Aidan Coleman, Sam Twiston-Davies, AP McCoy, Nick Scholfield, Noel Fehily and Tom Scudamore.  A few minutes later they returned. 

 

There was also a punters panel competition ahead of racing, with three well-known racing pundits giving their selections for the day – these included Gina Bryce and Dave Yates – the third was from one of the betting organisations but I can’t recall his name!  They pitted their selection skills against a member of the public ... and I have to report the latter actually won! 

 

Finally there was also a presentation of famous Merseyside stars ... most of whom I’d never heard of because, in the main, they were ex-footballers and I hate football!  Not surprisingly, there were boos from Everton fans when the Liverpool footballing stars were presented and vice versa. 

 

I remained in position until after a number of the horses participating in the first race arrived in the Parade Ring.  I then went to find my favourite vantage point within the Earl of Derby enclosure before any of the horses began to leave the Paddock.

 

The starting gate for the first race was at the far corner of the track, the horses initially heading along a short stretch of the course before turning into the home straight with that and one full circuit to travel.  The favourite for this race was Calipto at 7-2. 

 

Race 1

The IJF 4-Year-Old Juvenile Hurdle (Grade 1)

Distance

2 miles 110 yards (9 hurdles to negotiate)

No. of Runners

15

Activial, Agreement, Baradari, Broughton, Calipto, Clarcam, Commissioned, Dispour, Fox Norton, Guitar Pete, Handiwork, Hawk High, Rhamnus, Violet Dancer, Aurore D’Estruval

 

Then they were off.  The field was led away by the chestnut brown-cheek-pieced Handiwork, from Broughton to his outside, and further out Agreement; Baradari to his inside.  At the rear of the field as they turned into the home straight on the first occasion were the visored Guitar Pete, Rhamnus and Fox Norton.

 

Handiwork appeared surprised when presented with a flight to negotiate and spooked at it; this resulted in Calipto being bulked, who in turn broadsided Agreement and, behind these, Clarcam was also hampered.  Having avoided the problems, Broughton under AP McCoy took the lead.  Sam Twiston-Davies bored his way through the narrow gap between Handiwork and Agreement approaching the second flight, thus extricating himself from further trouble.  There were no incidents at this flight.

 

Three horses disputed the lead heading down to and clearing the next; far side Broughton, centre Calipto, nearside Commissioned.  Having caused so much inconvenience at the first, Handiwork now found himself in last place.  As they approached the winning post with one circuit to go, Denis O’Regan’s mount held a two length advantage over the field. 

 

The runners headed around the bend in front of the new grandstands (Earl of Derby and Lord Sefton), past the hospitality boxes on their right and out into the country; the main body of the field having closed the gap with the leader once more.  Handiwork was already struggling and had lost touch with the rear of the field. 

 

Facing up to the first flight in the back straight, Calipto joined Commissioned at the head of affairs as they negotiated it and they continued to dispute the lead heading towards the next.  Behind this duo were Broughton, Agreement and the sole filly Aurore D’Estruval.  Midfield were Baradari, Hawk High, with Activial towards the outside; followed by Fox Norton, Rhamnus, Clarcam, Dispour, Guitar Pete, Violet Dancer and the tailing off Handiwork. 

 

The runners negotiated the middle flight without incident; Calipto now at the head of affairs.  However, at the next, to the inside of the field Baradari fell when being pushed along.  Guitar Pete made an error here; there was also a bit of scrimmaging between Hawk High and Dispour shortly after the flight due to lack of room.  Baradari was fine and soon rose to his feet, although Handiwork had to take swift evasive action to avoid him as he did so.  It was certainly turning out to be an eventful race for the latter’s jockey, Nick Scholfield.  Aidan Coleman was soon on his feet too.

 

Calipto held a two length advantage over Aurore D’Estruval as the field headed into the top turn; almost upsides to her inside was Commissioned, from Activial, Agreement, Fox Norton, Hawk High, Clarcam, Dispour, Violet Dancer, Rhamnus, Broughton and Guitar Pete, with Handiwork still continuing adrift in rear.

 

The runners negotiated the final bend and headed into the home straight; the jockeys manoeuvring their mounts out across the course to get a good look at the third last and, hopefully, a clear run to the line.  Commissioned re-joined Calipto as they cleared the flight, Clarcam now in third position.  It was still neck and neck as they headed to and jumped two out, although the Gigginstown runner had been gaining and was now just half a length behind; in fourth position, to the inside, Hawk High trashed a hurdle panel and lost momentum.     

 

Clarcam continued to stay on as the leaders headed down towards the last, he rose slightly ahead of Calipto to his inside and Commissioned to his outside; the latter made an error here.  And just when it looked like the prize was Clarcam’s for the taking, Guitar Pete appeared on the scene having arrived from a different parish.  He had cleared the last in fourth position having made steady progress through the beaten runners, but he must have been four lengths down at that point.

 

Then, after the last, Paul Carberry had driven his mount between Calipto and Commissioned and then continued his charge to the line, overtaking Clarcam with ease and winning by 1¾ lengths at the line! Calipto claimed 3rd, with Commissioned 4th.  Next home was the filly Aurore D’Estruval.  The incident- prone Handiwork did finish the race, one from last.       

 

Result

Horse

Jockey

Trainer

1st

Guitar Pete

Paul Carberry

Dessie Hughes

2nd

Clarcam

Davy Russell

Gordon Elliott

3rd

Calipto

Sam Twiston-Davies

Paul Nicholls

4th

Commissioned

Denis O’Regan

John Ferguson

 

I remained in my vantage point when the gates closed and took photographs of the winning and placed horses as they returned. 

 

The favourite for the second race of the day was Dynaste at 13-8; winner of last month’s Ryanair Chase at the Cheltenham Festival.  Also taking part was last year’s winner of this race First Lieutenant, and Silviniaco Conti, winner of the King Geoge VI Chase and fourth placed in this season’s Cheltenham Gold Cup.

 

The starting gate for the next race was at the far end of the home straight, with that and two full circuits to travel. 

 

Race 2

The Betfred Bowl Chase (Grade 1)

Distance

3 miles 1 furlong (19 fences to negotiate)

No. of Runners

6

Argocat, Dynaste, First Lieutenant, Houblon Des Obeaux, Menorah, Silviniaco Conti

 

Then they were off.  The runners set off three by three; from the inside rail Silviniaco Conti, First Lieutenant and Houblon Des Obeaux in the front line, and Menorah, Argocat and Dynaste in the second wave.  The horses jumped the first fence, followed by the open-ditch, crossed the Grand National track intersection between the final fence and the Chair, cleared another plain fence and galloped down past the winning post with two circuits now to go.  At this point Noel Fehily’s mount held a half length advantage over First Lieutenant, from Houblon Des Obeaux, Menorah, Dynaste and Argocat.  

  

Ears pricked, Silviniaco Conti extended his lead to a couple of lengths as they headed around the bend and began their journey up the back straight; the order was little changed as they negotiated the two plain fences therein.  There were no problems encountered at the next, the second open-ditch, for these experienced chasers.  The runners then traversed the pathway across the track, the one which I walked across on my journey from the car park to the bus.  Over the next, Silviniaco Conti led from First Lieutenant, Menorah upsides Houblon Des Obeaux, Dynaste and Argocat.

 

The runners then headed into the far turn, jumped the sometimes tricky cross-fence, and entered the home straight once more.  Noel Fehily’s mount was enjoying himself bowling along at the head of affairs, ears pricked as he led the field.  Aidan Coleman’s mount had been the least fluent of the runners on a number of occasions and he now found himself disputing last place having cleared the next fence. 

 

The following fence was the next open-ditch, Menorah jumped this boldly and had to be reined back by Richard Johnson having loomed upsides the leader’s quarters.  The runners headed to the next fence, Silviniaco Conti still holding the advantage as they jumped it, from First Lieutenant, Menorah, Dynaste, Houblon Des Obeaux and Argocat; the latter was a little slow at this obstacle and, as a result, was a couple of lengths adrift as they headed towards the lollipop with one circuit to go.

 

However, around the near turn, Argocat made up ground to relegate the pushed-along Venetia Williams representative to last place.  Straightening up ahead of the next fence, First Lieutenant joined Silviniaco Conti at the head of affairs.  Menorah travelled in third at this stage, having jumped extremely well up to this point; Dynaste was a length behind, with Argocat a couple of lengths away in fifth and Houblon Des Obeaux at the rear but still in touch.

 

Silviniaco Conti made his first error of the race at the following fence, having misjudged his take-off stride; but he continued to dispute the lead with First Lieutenant.  The runners then headed over the open-ditch; at the back of the field Houblon Des Obeaux was untidy here.  Menorah hit the final fence in the back straight and this put him immediately under pressure; Dynaste had now travelled up into third position.  Argocat was a couple of lengths behind the leading four but Aidan Coleman’s mount had now lost touch completely.

 

The horses headed around the far turn, over the cross fence and into the home straight for the final time.  Turning in, Barry Geraghty encouraged his mount to take a narrow advantage over the field, Menorah had regained third from Dynaste, and Argocat brought up the rear.  However, First Lieutenant was soon ridden along and Noel Fehily’s mount was back in the lead again after three out.  His rivals were snapping at his heels as he jumped two out, the runners wandering around on their run to the last; Menorah the first one beaten. 

 

As they jumped the final fence, Silviniaco Conti retained a half length advantage over Dynaste, with Argocat and First Lieutenant having their own private battle for third place a few lengths back.  Noel Fehily was able to coax an additional effort from his mount on the run-in and they drew away again to win by 1½ lengths at the line.  Argocat claimed 3rd another one and a half lengths back, with First Lieutenant ¾’s of a length away in 4th.         

 

Result

Horse

Jockey

Trainer

1st

Silviniaco Conti

Noel Fehily

Paul Nicholls

2nd

Dynaste

Tom Scudamore

David Pipe

3rd

Argocat

AP McCoy

Tom Taaffe

4th

First Lieutenant

Barry Geraghty

MF Morris

 

I remained at the corner next to the walkway, still within the Earl of Derby Enclosure when the gates were opened.

 

NEWS FROM THE STEWARDS’ ROOM FOLLOWING THE RACE:

 

The Stewards held an enquiry into possible interference approaching the second last fence. Having heard their evidence and viewed recordings of the race they found that FIRST LIEUTENANT (IRE), placed fourth, ridden by Barry Geraghty, had interfered with DYNASTE (FR), placed second, ridden by Tom Scudamore. The Stewards found Geraghty in breach of Rule (B)54.1 and guilty of careless riding in that he allowed his mount to shift right handed without taking sufficient corrective action. They suspended him for 1 day as follows: Thursday 17 April 2014.

There was a parade of foxhounds on the racecourse prior to the next race; presumably to mark the occasion of the fourth race of the day being the Foxhunters Chase over the Grand National fences. 

The third race was today’s feature event.  Therefore having exited onto the racecourse, the runners were paraded in front of the stands before they headed to the starting gate, which was a third of the way along the back straight; two of the three flights of hurdles being jumped before the far turn.  

The odds-on favourite for this race was The New One at 4-9.  With Sam Twiston-Davies taking the ride for his father, and Nick Scholfield aboard the Paul Nicholls first-string Ptit Zig, Tom Scudamore was booked to ride the other Paul Nicholls runner Irish Saint; evidently the first time he’d ridden for the yard.

 

Choc also made his first appearance of the Festival, aboard Grumeti, the 66-1 outsider in this event.

 

I’m not sure whether it was during part of this race, or one of the later ones, that Alan King’s Travelling Head Lad Matt Howells stood beside me at the exit gate.  There is a special stand for the stable lads and lasses but they didn’t appear too keen to use it this year.  

 

Race 3

Aintree Hurdle (Grade 1)

Distance

2 miles 4 furlongs (11 flights to negotiate)

No. of Runners

7

Diakali, Grandouet, Grumeti, Irish Saint, Ptit Zig, Rock On Ruby, The New One

 

Then they were off.  The field was led away by Ptit Zig from stable-mate Irish Saint.  The New One travelled to the inside behind the leaders, to his outside Rock On Ruby.  Behind this duo, Grandouet to the inner and Grumeti, in rear the hooded grey Diakali.  The leader made a mistake at the first flight but remained at the head of affairs as they jumped the next and headed around the far turn before entering the home straight and facing up to the third obstacle.

 

Irish Saint came to dispute the lead with Ptit Zig as they jumped the flight; the former was tracked by Rock On Ruby and Grumeti towards the nearside, with The New One, Grandouet and Diakali preferring to follow in the wake of Ptit Zig to the inner.  Grandout made a slight error here.  There were no noticeable mistakes at the fourth flight of hurdles; AP McCoy held up Diakali in last place, although his mount appeared to be keen to get on with the race.  Irish Saint almost dislodged the orange protective strip from the fifth flight as he jumped it.     

 

Heading down towards the winning post with one circuit to go, Noel Fehily permitted his mount to creep up on the outside of the leading duo before easing him back into third position once more.  Grumeti travelled in fourth place, with The New One a length behind to his inner; Grandouet followed these, with the restrained Diakali in rear. 

 

Having passed the grandstands the horses headed out into the country once more.  Irish Saint still led, with Rock On Ruby overtaking Ptit Zig to get within half a length of him as they jumped the sixth flight.  The tempo quickened as Noel Fehily’s mount joined Irish Saint at the head of affairs; Grumeti now alongside Ptit Zig disputing third.  The next flight was damaged by a runner further back in the field.

 

The horses cleared the final flight in the back straight without incident and headed into the far turn, Rock On Ruby was travelling well and soon set up a clear advantage over his nearest rival.  Grandouet and Daikali were still at the rear of the field, with The New One travelling just ahead of them.

 

Having negotiated the final bend, the horses began their journey down the home straight, Rock On Ruby continuing to apply the pressure; it was catch me if you can.  Grumeti was now being ridden along and had dropped back to fifth position by the time he jumped the third last flight.  The New One was in hot pursuit as they approached the penultimate flight; just a length behind now.  Diakali had also been unleashed by AP McCoy and was close on their heels. 

 

The horses cleared two out and headed towards the final obstacle; The New One had taken the lead and was one length up as he jumped it.  But the leaders were spread wide across the track on the run to the line.  Sam Twiston-Davies’ mount travelled against the nearside rail, Rock On Ruby in the middle and Diakali to the far side so it was difficult to assess which horse would reach the line first, especially as Noel Fehily’s mount had rallied once challenged by the latter and they were gaining on The New One with every stride.  A photo finish ...

 

And the winner was The New One by a head.  Sam was thrilled when the result was announced; a victory following a couple of important near misses due to ill luck during running.  Rock On Ruby got the verdict over Diakali for second; a nose the distance.  Ptit Zig claimed 4th, with Grumeti 5th.

 

Result

Horse

Jockey

Trainer

1st

The New One

Sam Twiston-Davies

Nigel Twiston-Davies

2nd

Rock On Ruby

Noel Fehily

Harry Fry

3rd

Diakali

AP McCoy

Willie Mullins

4th

Ptit Zig

Nick Scholfield

Paul Nicholls

 

Unfortunately no need to return to the Winners’ Enclosure following Choc’s first ride of the day.  Following the finish he dismounted and led his mount into the far pull-up area to unsaddle, he then walked back via the main horse-walk to the Weighing Room.  

 

NEWS FROM THE STEWARDS’ ROOM FOLLOWING THE RACE:

 

The Stewards held an enquiry into the use of the whip by A. P. McCoy, the rider of DIAKALI (FR), placed third, from the second last hurdle. 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 McCoy for 4 days as follows: Thursday 17, Saturday 19, Sunday 20 and Monday 21 April 2014.

That’s it for Part One of my Grand Opening Day diary ...

 

Click here to read my Grand Opening Day Diary Part II

 

 

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