Buveur D Air.jpg


Buveur D’Air, trained by Nicky Henderson and ridden by Barry Geraghty,

winner of the Grade 1 Aintree Hurdle



Click here to read my Grand Opening Day Diary Part I


It was soon time for the fourth race of the day, the Aintree Hurdle. 

The favourite for this event was Buveur D’Air, winner of this season’s Champion Hurdle, trained by Nicky Henderson and ridden by Barry Geraghty; price 4-9.

There had been forty runnings of the Aintree Hurdle, with Irish-trained horses winning it on 20 occasions despite being outnumbered by home-trained horses.  There were two Irish representatives today – Identity Thief and Rashaan – solely lesser lights and probably posing little danger.

As this race was today’s feature event, 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.  

Race 4

Aintree Hurdle (Grade 1)


2 miles 4 furlongs (11 flights to negotiate)

No. of Runners


Buveur D’Air, Identity Thief, My Tent Or Yours, Old Guard, Rashaan, The New One


Having skirted around the first hurdle in the back straight, the runners continued to walk towards the tape and then they were off.  The New One was first into stride, followed by Identity Thief whose jockey sported the Gigginstown silks.  The favourite travelled in third, after which came Old Guard, the chestnut Rashaan and, last but not least, My Tent Or Yours.  The leader had set up an advantage of around five lengths as he hopped over the first flight.

The New One, which was running in this race for the fourth time, continued to lead as they headed across the pathway which leads to the Steeplechase car park on their journey to the second flight.  Identity Thief gave this one plenty of daylight; probably a result of having been chasing this season before reverting back to hurdles following disappointing form in that sphere latterly.

It was Indian file as the runners headed into the far turn, with the hooded My Tent Or Yours continuing to bring up the rear.  The New One remained at the head of affairs as they entered the home straight on the first occasion, from Identity Thief, Buveur D’Air, Old Guard, the best turned-out winner Rashaan, and My Tent Or Yours.  I’m not quite sure why Rashaan was chosen, as neither the horse’s mane nor his tail was plaited!

Anyway, the six competitors cleared the third flight in their stride before heading down to the next; the leader cleared this one with ears pricked, although he did jump a little bit out to his right as he did so.  There was a slightly longer run to the fifth, where My Tent Or Yours didn’t make much of an effort to jump it; he just flattened the inside panel instead!  It didn’t affect his momentum though. 

The Nigel Twiston-Davies runner continued to lead as they headed down past the winning post with one circuit to go; the advantage he held over his nearest rival was now just over one length.  The competitors then galloped through the Grand National starting gate before heading into the back straight once more.  The race order remained the same, namely The New One, from Identity Thief, Buveur D’Air, Old Guard, Rashaan and My Tent Or Yours.

Identity Thief got a little bit close to the sixth flight and he lost momentum; as a result Buveur D’Air was soon matching strides with him.  Meanwhile, My Tent Or Yours had relegated Rashaan to last place.  Once again the Gigginstown representative was less than fluent at the following flight and the favourite moved through to take second position, narrowly. 

The New One wandered about on his approach to the final flight in the back straight; he jumped out to his right as he cleared it.  It’s one of The New One’s preferences.  Rashaan was being pushed along at the rear of the field as the runners headed into the far turn.  The New One continued to lead as the runners headed across the top of the racecourse, from Identity Thief which had regained second, Buveur D’Air, My Tent Or Yours alongside Old Guard and, finally, Rashaan.

The runners entered the home straight with the original field of six intact.  Bryan Cooper headed out wide aboard Identity Thief as they headed towards the third last.  The New One continued to hold the lead as they jumped this; again he jumped out slightly to his right.  The race was on as the competitors journeyed to the penultimate flight.  The New One ran down the flight, to his right of course, and ended up even wider on the course than Identity Thief. 

Meanwhile Buveur D’Air was ploughing a far straighter furrow down the track and had quickly drawn alongside the long-time leader.  My Tent Or Yours was soon a clear third.  The New One was under pressure as they approached the final flight, and the favourite was almost a length up on his rival as they jumped it. 

All Barry Geraghty needed to do was push him out and Buveur D’Air scooted away from his rivals to win by five lengths at the line, easing down.  Perpetual bridesmaid My Tent Or Yours came through in the last 75 yards to claim the runner-up spot, with The New One 1½ lengths behind him in 3rd.  Old Guard was a further 11 lengths back in 4th.  Rashaan completed in 5th, with Identity Thief last.       






Buveur D’Air

Barry Geraghty

Nicky Henderson


My Tent Or Yours

Aidan Coleman

Nicky Henderson


The New One

Sam Twiston-Davies

Nigel Twiston-Davies


Old Guard

Harry Cobden

Paul Nicholls


Nicky Henderson explained, post-race, that My Tent Or Yours has been particularly chilled-out this year; he no longer pulls.  This being the case, the trainer was sure he’d get the extended trip well today. 


We chose to remain at our chosen vantage point ahead of the next race. 


Race 4 - 3:25pm


The Stewards noted that BUVEUR D’AIR (FR), trained by Nicky Henderson, would wear earplugs.

It was soon time for the fifth race of the day; the Fox Hunters’ Chase for amateur riders which is run over the Grand National fences. 


Never beaten over these unique fences, the favourite for the next was On The Fringe trained by Enda Bolger and ridden by Mr Jamie Codd, aka The Coddfather!  His price was 7-4; rather short having been placed only 4th in the Cheltenham Festival Foxhunter this year.  Age appeared to be catching up with the horse; he was 12 now.

Sandra’s fancy was Black Thunder ridden by Sam Waley-Cohen; my selection, although I didn’t place a bet, was the ex-Alan King-trained Dineur, runner-up last year and now trained by Peter Bowen’s son Mickey.   

Also taking part was 15-year-old Big Fella Thanks; a veteran of Grand Nationals in his heyday.  He was currently trained by Tom George and today ridden by son Noel who was only 17!  The winner of this year’s Cheltenham Foxhunters, and placed in this event in previous attempts, Pacha Du Polder.  Mendip Express, another horse which had previously been placed over these fences.  Also Balnaslow, representing Northern Ireland, which had given punters an excellent run for their money when making most of the running in this year’s Festival Foxhunters too; he’d finished 5th that day.  Rebel Rebellion was competing also; another horse with proven Aintree experience over these fences.  There were no greys.

All of the jockeys taking part in the race wore black arm-bands in memory of rider James McNeile who had recently lost his life as a result of a point-to-point accident at Larkhill.

The start of the race was at the far end of the home straight, with 2 fences to jump before The Chair; having reached the starting area, the riders took their mounts to look at the first obstacle, before having their girths checked prior to the race. 


Race 5

Fox Hunters’ Open Hunters’ Chase (Amateur Riders)


2 miles 5 furlongs 19 yards (18 fences to negotiate)

No. of Runners


Balnaslow, Bear’s Affair, Big Fella Thanks, Black Thunder, Broken Eagle, Damiens Dilemma, Darwins Fox, Decade Player, Dineur, Distime, Fitz Volonte, Flash Garden, Loch Ba, Mendip Express, Mr Mercurial, Mr Moss, Never Complain, On The Fringe, Pacha Du Polder, Poole Master, Premier Portrait, Rebel Rebellion, Richmond, Sam Cavallaro, Sizing Solution, Tony Star, Top Cat Henry, Vincitore


It will come as no surprise that the riders were too keen when approaching the starting gate; the Starter instructed the jockeys to pull-up!  Typically, instead of asking their mounts to line up either to the outside or behind those already stood at the post, a number of jockeys decided they’d like to back into non-existent spaces in order to retain their advantage at the start.  Total chaos reigned. 

The riders were asked to take a turn, but they didn’t go very far from the tape before returning.  It remained gridlock close to the rail, with one or two facing in completely the wrong direction.  Finally they were ready to go, from a standing start; with Fitz Volonte more slowly away than his rivals.  Standing starts don’t suit every horse.

The runners headed to the first fence, with Dineur, Pacha Du Polder, On The Fringe and Mendip Express amongst those prominent as they cleared it.  At the back of the field, Broken Eagle jumped it a little awkwardly but there were no casualties at this one.  Travelling towards the next, the jockey aboard Fitz Volonte glanced back a couple of times, first over his right shoulder and then his left; there was only one behind him, Broken Eagle.

The runners headed over the second, with Top Cat Henry, Mendip Express, Pacha Du Polder, Balnaslow and Poole Master leading the way; Balnaslow took this one slower than his immediate rivals, and Loch Ba hit it, but everyone survived to continue their journey to The Chair.  Fitz Volonte had been relegated to the rear of the field once more.  The first casualty was Katie Walsh; Distime hit the fence and catapulted her over his head.  Then, to add insult to injury, her mount also trod on her.  Ouch.  Also with less than perfect efforts were On The Fringe, Vincitore and Loch Ba.

Meanwhile the remaining 27 runners continued their journey to the water-jump; Mendip Express and Top Cat Henry were disputing the lead as they jumped it and Pacha Du Polder was a little bit slower than his rivals when negotiating it.  The field then headed around the bottom bend and had soon passed beneath the Grand National starting gate.   On The Fringe had dropped back noticeably through the field, and Richmond now brought up the rear.  

Having crossed the Melling Road, the horses soon reached the fifth fence; Mendip Express and Top Cat Henry continued to lead, with Rebel Rebellion now close up to their outside.  All of the runners cleared this one safely, although Mr Moss made an error and a number were already beginning to lose touch.

The field then headed over the next; Darwins Fox made a significant error here and pecked on landing when travelling just behind the leaders.  Also, in the fore-front of mid-field, Flash Garden hit it and fell, thus hampering Decade Player, with Mr Moss even more so in the process. 

The next fence was an open-ditch; known as Westhead.  Poolemaster was slightly hampered here, having bumped into the rear Mendip Express on landing.  Also Never Complain blundered and unseated his rider; he was travelling close to Poolemaster at the time, so his departure may have been influenced by a lack of room.  Within this scrum, Bear’s Affair made an error and Broken Eagle was fortunate not to tread on the prostrate jockey.  Meanwhile with a clear passage, Sizing Solution had advanced to the inside of runners and one of the loose horses decided to call it a day when refusing to jump said ditch.

The remaining 25 competitors continued to the next fence, with Rebel Rebellion now leading from Sizing Solution.  There were no additional departures at this obstacle.  The following fence was the one before Beecher’s Brook.  Premier Portrait blundered and unseated his rider when travelling in mid-division; Damiens Dilemma also made an error but he survived. 

The horses continued their journey towards Beecher’s led by Sizing Solution, Darwins Fox, Mendip Express and Rebel Rebellion.  The leaders cleared this one safely but, further back in the field, both Broken Eagle and Sam Cavallero departed.  Horses and jockeys were quickly to their feet with no harm done.

With no change at the head of affairs, the survivors then headed to the Fionavon fence.  Travelling to the rear of mid-field, and to the wide outside, Mr Moss blundered here; it definitely wasn’t his day and he’d probably lost all confidence by now.  The rider aboard Sizing Solution tacked out wide as they approached the Canal Turn; this would enable him to cross the fence at an angle and thus reduce the severity of the 90% turn.  The inside rail is also placed to encourage the riders to do this.

Thus, Sizing Solution led over this one, from Darwins Fox, Mendip Express, Rebel Rebellion, Dineur, Mr Mercurial, Pacha Du Polder, Big Fella Thanks, Top Cat Henry, Tony Star, Poolemaster, Bear’s Affair, Decade Player, Black Thunder, Balnaslow, Fitz Volonte, Loch Ba, and On The Fringe.  Mr Moss almost missed the turn and ended up in last position as a result having been ‘undertaken’ by the three tail-enders; namely Damiens Dilemma which hit it, Vincitore and Richmond!

The runners had soon arrived at Valentines, where Top Cat Henry blundered and Black Thunder fell having put in an extra stride and landed too steeply, the latter hampered Damiens Dilemma in the process.  The remaining horses headed on towards the next, with Darwins Fox leading them over this one; there were no departures here.  At this point Balnaslow was just beginning to make progress to tag onto the rear of the leading group.  In total contrast, On The Fringe continued to toil amongst the backmarkers.  

Darwin Fox’s rider saw a good stride as they reached fence number fifteen and he flew over it in style.  There was just one more fence to negotiate before the second Melling Road crossing and they all cleared this, although Richmond was a little awkward near the rear of the field.  Darwins Fox continued to lead, from a loose horse (it was actually Never Complain), followed by Dineur, Rebel Rebellion, Mr Mercurial, Big Fella Thanks, Mendip Express, Pacha Du Polder and Balnaslow as they headed around the home turn.  Having faded quickly since the third last, Sizing Solution was pulled up before two out. So too, were Decade Player, Fitz Volonte and On The Fringe.  Mr Moss had been pulled up before three out.

Darwins Fox retained an advantage as the remaining runners jumped two out; Dineur, Mr Mercurial, Big Fella Thanks, Pacha Du Polder and Balnaslow his nearest pursuers.  They continued to the final fence, where the leader dislodged quite a lot of spruce having begun to tire; Dineur found himself a little short of room as they headed away from the obstacle, wedged in behind Darwins Fox and hemmed in by Mr Mercurial at that point.  The loose horse travelled to their inside.

Fortunately James King was able to force his way through as Mr Mercurial began to wither and Darwins Fox wandered off a straight line; the Irish challenger wanted to follow the rider-less Never Complain.

Dineur was in front when they reached the commencement of the rail, with Big Fella Thanks a little short of room at his quarters and having to switch to the outer shortly afterwards; he did stumble slightly in the process and there was a different loose horse to his outside at this point (Premier Portrait in fact).

Dineur was able to extend his lead on the run to the line, the loose horse his only companion.  Meanwhile Balnaslow continued to stay on and had soon mastered every rival bar one, but the line came too soon on this occasion, with Dineur triumphing by 1¾ lengths.  The veteran Big Fella Thanks completed 1½ lengths away in 3rd, Pacha Du Polder was three quarters of a length 4th, Mendip Express just touch off Darwins Fox for 5th. 

Sixteen crossed the line to complete the race, the last one being Top Cat Henry.  The winning jockey’s father is a reporter for the Racing Post, namely Andrew King.  Dineur did, however, finish lame and thus didn’t return to the Winners’ Enclosure which was a shame.  When translated Dineur is Diner … which I suppose isn’t a surprise!

The loose Never Complain actually re-jumped The Chair, this time at a 45-degree angle, having trashed the guiding tape and seemingly well-able to take an alternative route between that and the Mildmay fence.  However, perhaps he was put off by activity surrounding the green screens which had been erected around the prostrate Katie Walsh on the landing side of the fence; no doubt someone will also have waved their arms to deter a more sensible route.   Subsequently he’d also crashed through the plastic rails and headed down the unused strip of track to the inside of the current route to the line; crazy herd animals!

It had been an excellent run from the 15-year-old veteran Big Fella Thanks to finish in third place.  However, he suffered a career-ending injury at Cheltenham’s Foxhunter’s evening fixture a few weeks later and was thus retired.








Mr James King

Mickey Bowen



Mr Derek O’Connor

Graham John McKeever


Big Fella Thanks

Mr N George

Tom George


Pacha Du Polder

Miss Bryony Frost

Paul Nicholls


Mendip Express

Mr D Maxwell

Philip Hobbs


Darwins Fox

Mr Barry O’Neill

D M Christie


Bear’s Affair

Mr Alex Edwards

Philip Rowley


Mr Mercurial

Mr Will Biddick

Mrs Sheila Crow


Rebel Rebellion

Mr Matthew Hampton

Paul Nicholls


Poole Master

Mr D Edwards

Chris Honour


Tony Star

Miss Jodie Hughes

Mickey Bowen



Miss Sarah Rippon

Mrs Claire Hardwick


Damiens Dilemma

Mr N Orpwood

Mrs L A Coltherd


Loch Ba

Mr J Jackson-Stops

Francesco Nimmo



Miss L M Turner

P P C Turner


Top Cat Henry

Mr Kit Alexander

N W Alexander


And those which did not finish:


Pulled Up

Before 2 out

Sizing Solution

Mr R O Harding

J T R Dreaper

Pulled Up

Before 2 out

On The Fringe

Mr Jamie Codd

Enda Bolger

Pulled Up

Before 2 out

Fitz Volonte

Mr J Martin

Andrew J Martin

Pulled Up

Before 2 out

Decade Player

Mr D Peters

Miss Kelly Morgan

Pulled Up

Before 3 out

Mr Moss

Mr J Nailor

S Rea


13th (Valentine’s)

Black Thunder

Sam Waley-Cohen

Warren Greatrex


10th (Becher’s)

Sam Cavallaro

Mr M J P Kendrick

Miss H Brookshaw


10th (Becher’s)

Broken Eagle

Mr Joe Hill

Alan Hill


9th fence

Premier Portrait

Mr G Levinson

Dr Charles Levinson


7th fence

Never Complain

Mr Charlie Marshall

Mrs F Marshall


6th fence

Flash Garden

Mr T Hamilton

J M B Cookson


3rd (The Chair)


Miss Katie Walsh

Mrs A J Loder


We returned to the Winners’ Enclosure following the race, hoping to see the winning horse arrive back.  However, Dineur had finished lame and was thus taken back directly to the stables to be assessed by the veterinary team. 


Race 5 - 4:05pm


The Stewards held an enquiry into the use of the whip by Mr James King, the rider of the winner, DINEUR (FR), after the final fence. 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 King for 2 days as follows: Friday 21 and Saturday 22 April 2017.

The Stewards held an enquiry into possible interference in the closing stages. Having heard their evidence and viewed recordings of the race they found that the winner, DINEUR (FR), ridden by Mr James King, had interfered with BIG FELLA THANKS, placed third, ridden by Mr N. George. The Stewards found King in breach of Rule (B)54.1 and guilty of careless riding in that he had allowed his mount to drift left without sufficient correction. They cautioned him as to his future conduct in races.

The Stewards held an enquiry following a report from the Starter that Mr Derek O’Connor, Mr Alex Edwards, Mr N. George, Mr S. Waley-Cohen, Mr Joe Hill, Mr N. Orpwood, Mr Barry O’Neill, Mr D. Peters, Mr James King, Ms K. Walsh, Mr J. Martin, Mr T. Hamilton, Mr J. Jackson-Stops, Mr D. Maxwell, Mr J. Nailor, Mr J.J. Codd, Miss B. Frost, Mr Matthew Hampton, Mr R.O. Harding, Mr Kit Alexander and Mrs Claire Hardwick had cantered in at the start. They interviewed all of the above riders, with the exception of Ms K. Walsh owing to injuries sustained in a fall, and the Starter. Having heard their evidence and viewed recordings of the start the Stewards found all riders in breach of Rule (D)44.4 and suspended them for 1 day as follows: Friday 21 April 2017, with the exception of Mr James King, Mr T. Hamilton and Mr J.J. Codd. Mr James King was suspended for 1 day as follows: Sunday 23 April 2017. Mr T. Hamilton and Mr J.J. Codd were suspended for 2 days as follows: Friday 21 and Saturday 22 April 2017, due to this being their second offence within the previous 12 months. The evidence of Ms K. Walsh will be heard at a later date.

The Stewards gave permission for BROKEN EAGLE (USA), trained by Alan Hill, to go early to post and be mounted in the chute and noted that PREMIER PORTRAIT (IRE), trained by Dr Charles Levinson, and TONY STAR (FR), trained by Mickey Bowen, would wear earplugs which would be removed at the start.

The Stewards noted that the winner, DINEUR (FR), trained by Mickey Bowen, did not enter the winner’s enclosure on veterinary advice, due to being lame on its right fore.

The favourite for the next race was Bun Doran, trained by Tom George and ridden by Adrian Heskin; price 6-1.  There were no greys in this race.

My non-betting choices were Parsnip Pete and Doitforthevillage, trained by Tom George and Paul Henderson respectively.

The starting gate for this event was in the far corner of the track; the cross fence being the first obstacle. 

Race 6

Red Rum Handicap Chase (Grade 3)


2 miles (12 fences to negotiate)

No. of Runners


Alisier D’Irlande, Gino Trail, Theinval, Foxtail Hill, Dandridge, Double W’s, Bun Doran, Parsnip Pete, Romain De Senam, Yorkist, Witness In Court, Doitforthevillage, Raven’s Tower, Rock On Rocky


There were lots of white socks visible as the jockeys jogged in towards the starting gate; Rock on Rocky was led in.  And then they were off, first time, although Alisier D’Irlande was slow to stride and lost his initial place in the front line of runners.  The first obstacle was the cross-fence and the flashy Gino Trail held a narrow advantage over Foxtail Hill and Bun Doran as they jumped it; at the rear of the field, Doitforthevillage was a little clumsy.

Gino Trail continued to lead as they swung into the home straight on the first occasion.  Travelling in mid-field were Rock On Rocky, Double W’s, Parsnip Pete, Theinval and Romain De Senam.  Again Doitforthevillage was less fluent than his rivals as they cleared the second fence.  The next was the first of the open-ditches and all fourteen runners jumped this one well, before heading across the Grand National course on their journey to the fourth.  Having been relegated to last place, Raven’s Tower was pushed along briefly.

Gino Trail’s jockey, Jamie Moore, glanced over this right shoulder as the neared the fence. They all jumped this one in their stride and continued down past the winning post with just one circuit now to travel.   Thus, heading around the grandstand bend, Gino Trail led, from Foxtail Hill, Bun Doran upsides Alisier D’Irlande, followed by Double W’s, Rock On Rocky, Parsnip Pete, Theinval, Yorkist, Romain De Senam, Witness In Court, Dandridge, Doitforthevillage and the pushed-along Raven’s Tower. 

Jamie Moore saw a good stride as his mount approached the first fence in the back straight, whereas Rock On Rocky appeared to bank it before landing awkwardly; he survived this error although losing a number of places as a result.  There was no change at the head of affairs as the runners headed over the sixth fence; a plain one.  Once again the leader cleared it beautifully; Alisier D’Irlande wasn’t fluent here and Foxtail Hill had already begun to drift back through the field.

The next fence was the penultimate open-ditch; it was Parsnip Pete’s turn to make an error and he almost lost his hind-legs on landing.  Now at the rear of the main pack, Stan Sheppard decided to pull-up Rock On Rocky; Raven’s Tower continued but tailed off.  Gino Trail got in a little close to the final fence in the back straight but got away with this error; at the rear of the group, Witness In Court made a mistake and shot Will Kennedy briefly up his neck as a result.

Gino Trail remained at the head of affairs as they entered the far bend and journeyed towards the cross-fence; four from home.  The leader brushed through the top of it and Romain De Senam made an error here.  However near the back of the group and having cleared the fence just fine, Doitforthevillage was bumped by Dandridge a few strides after it, and then clipped heels with Yorkist.  This sent him and jockey Tom O’Brien crashing to the ground.  Fortunately the horse was quickly onto its feet and he continued after the field. 

Meanwhile the remaining runners headed into the home straight, with Bun Doran now laying down a challenge to the long-time leader; the favourite was marginally ahead of his rivals as they jumped three out.  The penultimate fence was the final open-ditch, with Theinval and Double W’s now disputing second position with the weakening Gino Trail as they cleared it. 

In fact Theinval was driven into the lead as they headed across the Grand National course on the way to the final fence; Double W’s had now moved into second position, from Bun Doran and Yorkist.  Theinval was joined by the flashy chestnut as they jumped the fence and Brian Hughes was able to drive his mount out to win by one length at the line.  Bun Doran finished 3rd, with Yorkist 4th, Roman De Senam 5th and Gino Trail 6th.   Alisier D’Irlande made a very bad error at the last before completing in 7th.     

There were 10 finishers, as Raven’s Tower and Parsnip Pete were pulled up.    

Meanwhile, in the Parade Ring, one of the two owners tripped over whilst running around excitedly to celebrate his horse’s win; although I don’t know whether it was Mr Wharton or Mr Wilson!  That’s why the horse is named Double W’s.






Double W’s

Brian Hughes

Malcolm Jefferson



Jeremiah McGrath

Nicky Henderson


Bun Doran

Adrian Heskin

Tom George



Harry Skelton

Dan Skelton


We decided not to return to the steppings above the Winners’ Enclosure to see the runners return. 

Race 6 - 4:40pm


The Judge reported that the sponsorship in relation to RAVEN’S TOWER (USA), trained by Ben Pauling, did not comply with the Sponsorship Code of Conduct. The Stewards found the trainer in breach of Rule (A)39 and warned him as to his responsibility to ensure that the correct sponsorship is carried.

The Stewards gave permission for GINO TRAIL (IRE), trained by Kerry Lee, to go early to post, and noted that DOITFORTHEVILLAGE (IRE), trained by Paul Henderson, would wear a hood in the Parade Ring.

The favourite for the final race of the day was Petticoat Tails, trained by Warren Greatrex and ridden by Gavin Sheehan; price 9-2.  There were two greys in this race, Drops Of Jupitor and Redemption Song; the former wore a hood.

The starting gate was situated in the far corner of the track.

Race 7

Mares’ Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race (Grade 2)


2 miles and 209 yards (no obstacles!)

No. of Runners


Boogie Life, Drops Of Jupitor, Irish Roe, Maria’s Benefit, Martello Park, Monar Rose, Oscar Rose, Petticoat Tails, Polly’s Pursuit, Redemption Song, Sassy Diva, Scorpion Princess, Skewiff, Sweetlittlemystery, Dame Rose, Donnachies Girl, Mountain Path, Shearling

The runners congregated in the chute, close to the Melling Road, with Boogie Life joining them at the last moment; jockey Graham Lee had decided to attach himself to the front of the pack, rather than the back.  However, just before the tape was released, Boogie Life dodged away to her right but she was still able to lead the runners as they headed towards the first bend.  She was very keen, however.

Having entered the home straight on the first occasion, the runners were led by Boogie Life and Redemption Song.  Behind these travelled Dame Rose, Mountain Path, Martello Park, Polly’s Pursuit and Petticoat Tails.  At the rear of the field, Drops Of Jupitor was very keen too and she was weaving away as Noel Fehily tried to restrain her.  Further down the straight, at the point where the Grand National course joins at the elbow, Daryl Jacob decided to ease back Monar Rose to allow the grey to travel to his outer. 

Passing the winning post with one circuit to go, Boogie Life was disputing the lead with Dame Rose.  Now without cover, Drops Of Jupitor began to make progress on the outside of the field.  The runners soon entered the back straight, with Dame Rose now holding a half-length advantage over her nearest rival.  Boogie Life continued in second position, from Petticoat Tails, Redemption Song, Mountain Path, Polly’s Pursuit, Maria’s Benefit, Scorpion Princess, Martello Park, Donnachies Girl, Drops Of Jupitor, Skewiff, Shearling, Oscar Rose, Sweetlittlemystery, Sassy Diva and Irish Roe; Monar Rose brought up the rear.    

The runners continued along the back straight, passing between the wings of the empty hurdles, and crossed the pathway which leads to the Steeplechase car park en route too.  Two or three runners had received slaps down their necks during the course of their journey.  Dame Rose remained at the head of affairs as they headed into the far turn, with Polly’s Pursuit now her closest pursuer. 

As the fillies and mares continued their journey across the top of the racecourse, Boogie Life dropped to the back of the field; Drops Of Jupitor, having travelled far too freely, joined her in arrears as they entered the home straight for the final time.  Dame Rose remained with the advantage over her rivals as they headed through the empty wings of the third last. 

Oscar Rose had made smooth progress through runners and was stalking the leader by the time they reached the next set of wings.  Also improving was Sweetlittlemystery to the near side and Irish Roe to the far side; although Henry Brooke was being far too forceful aboard the latter.  Sweetlittlemystery’s challenge soon petered out however.

Despite being pressurised by her rivals, Dame Rose continued to lead as they headed through the final set of wings, with Oscar Rose remaining her nearest challenger.  Behind these were Petticoat Tails, then Redemption Song, Shearling, and Irish Roe. 

In fact the leading duo continued to battle all the way to the line, with Dame Rose prevailing to win by half a length.  They’d drawn away from Petticoat Tails which finished 3¾ lengths away in 3rd position.  Shearling won the battle for 4th place, with Redemption Song 5th and Martello Park 6th.    






Dame Rose

Alain Cawley

Richard Hobson


Oscar Rose

Paddy Brennan

Fergal O’Brien


Petticoat Tails

Gavin Sheehan

Warren Greatrex



Richard Johnson

Brian Ellison


After this, the final race, we chose to return to the steppings above the Winners’ Enclosure to see the runners return.


The winning jockey, Alain Cawley, had recently returned from injury.  Martin Keighley congratulated him as he returned to the Weighing Room; ‘Squeak’ had been their substitute stable jockey during a period of injury for Ian Popham. 

Winning trainer Richard Hobson admitted to making a mistake by missing the entry date for a Newbury mares’ bumper in early March; so he entered her for the following day’s race instead, against the geldings.  She had been unsuited by the heavy ground that day, but had finished a creditable 5th despite this.  She was actually a filly, being only 4.    

Richard had insisted that Alain ride his filly today, as the jockey had suffered the injury at Kempton whilst wearing the same colours; compensation gained.  Richard trains at Little Rissington in the Cotswolds; it’s a neighbouring village to Bourton-On-The-Water.   

Race 7 - 5:15pm


The Stewards noted that PETTICOAT TAILS, trained by Warren Greatrex, would wear earplugs which would be removed at the start.

Noel Fehily, the rider of DROPS OF JUPITOR (IRE), unplaced, reported that the mare ran too free and hung right.

Sandra had reserved a table at the pub adjacent to our hotel for 19:45, so we had a certain amount of time available to watch the beginning of the Goffs HIT (Horses in Training) sale.  One of the lots being sold was Just A Par; he was bought back in by his current trainer Paul Nicholls for £100k I believe.  He held an entry in Saturday’s Grand National. 

In the end we didn’t so much run out of time before we had to depart, as it becoming too cold to remain upon the steppings!   This being the case, we returned to the Steeplechase car park aboard the free shuttle-bus service.  Having returned to our respective cars, Sandra left just before me and we both headed out via Anchor Bridge, before turning right at the T-junction with Aintree Lane.  Having crossed the swing-bridge over the canal, the lane soon meets the A506 dual carriageway; I turned left to head to the M57.  However, this is where my carefully laid plan went slightly awry!

I headed up the slip-road onto the motorway but didn’t realise the exit slip-road onto the A580 was quite so close.  Too late, I’d missed my turning.  Oh well, I decided to style it out.  There were other exits but I decided to continue to the M62, before heading east.  I then took the northbound carriageway of the M6, and left the motorway at junction 23; this meant I was now on the intended A580 and just a mile or two from our hotel.

Sandra had arrived before me, although not that long before, and she helped me carry the bags to my room once I’d checked in; we used the lift to the first floor.  I was in room 103 this year.  The rooms have been renumbered since my last visit; single and double digit numbers are on the ground floor, three digit numbers prefixed with a ‘1’ are on the first floor, and three digit numbers prefixed ‘2’ are on the second floor.   I hadn’t occupied this particular room before, but I had stayed in the one next door, twice!  The room faced south and was two along from the lift.  Sandra was across the corridor, half-way along the landing, in room 112.

We went to dinner at the adjacent Table Table restaurant at 19:45; unfortunately we were sat at the poorly lit ‘corridor’ table which I’m not particularly keen on having sat there before.  I chose haddock and chips today, with a Cadbury Dairy Milk sundae for dessert.  Two apple and cranberry J2Os were consumed too.      

Having returned to our respective rooms, I recall it was a restless night; I didn’t sleep very well.


PHOTOS – Aintree Festival Day 1 (Index)



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