PART I

DIARY – AINTREE FESTIVAL

GRAND NATIONAL THURSDAY

THURSDAY 12 APRIL 2018

 

 

u race 3 Might Bite.jpg

 

Might Bite, trained by Nicky Henderson and ridden by Nico de Boinville,

winner of the Grade 1 Bowl Chase

 

 

 

This year, for the first time, I decided to travel up to Merseyside on Wednesday afternoon rather leave home at 05:30 on the Thursday morning.  My route, however, was the same as usual until I reached the Burtonwood Service station on the M62, despite this being slightly ‘off piste’ with regards to my hotel’s location.

 

I left home at 12:45; the traffic wasn’t too bad in my home city, despite it being lunch-time.  However, I do recall a dpd Distribution lorry holding everyone up when turning right at the Ancient Briton junction; the driver had a problem negotiating the turn due to temporary signage narrowing the roadway.  Then further on, as I approached Harpenden, the same lorry slowed the flow of traffic in order to pull into a lay-by. 

 

Having reached Harpenden Common, I turned left to travel through Hatching Green and onwards to the Redbourn bypass.  I recall forgetting to indicate when turning right at this point; my mind was elsewhere!  I continued past the Friars Wash showground and, shortly afterwards, joined the M1 at Junction 9.  The motorway was busy, initially, but traffic gradually dispersed as I headed north-westwards. 

 

At Milton Keynes, I noticed a large, attractively coloured (shades of blue), warehouse building; it must have been fairly new, as it had never registered with me before.  Following an extended period of road-works to convert this section of the route into a ‘Smart’ motorway, the carriageway had been resurfaced making for a much smoother ride!  However, it became it’s old, bumpy-self once I’d reached its junction with the M6!

 

As it’s nearly 200 miles to my destination, I like to take a break from motorway driving, so I continued on the M1 to Junction 23A.  The motorway conditions had been misty on the section just before this, due to light rain.  There were currently road-works at various points along the road which travels beside the M1 to Junction 24, also at the roundabout itself.  I briefly thought about dropping into Donnington Services to spend a penny, but I just couldn’t be asked!  Perhaps the hot drink and mushroom soup I’d consumed before I left home hadn’t been such a good idea after all!

 

My route continued along the A50.  The road bypasses Uttoxeter, where road-works were still being carried out close to the JCB factory, as they had been last year too.  There were signs along the latter section of the dual carriageway, warning drivers to take care as there had been a number of serious accidents involving cars and lorries; it’s a very popular route, travelled at speed.

 

Having reached a large roundabout, I turned left in order to continue towards Stoke-on-Trent.  The dual carriageway meanders its way through built-up areas and includes an underpass too.  Stoke-on-Trent consists of six towns - Stoke-upon-Trent, Hanley, Burslem, Tunstall, Longton and Fenton.  At the far end of the carriageway, there is a large roundabout with traffic light signals.  A right-turn at this point would have taken me to Stoke-upon-Trent itself, but I turned left in order to merge onto Queensway and continued ahead at a further roundabout before joining the M6 northbound carriageway at junction 15.

 

I continued my journey up the motorway, over the Mersey bridge, to Junction 21A.  There was a 50mph speed limit in place between Junctions 16 and 19, as this section was also being upgraded to a ‘Smart’ motorway.  I then headed westwards, towards Liverpool, along the M62 in order to visit the Burtonwood Services.  It’s only a couple of junctions along, a maximum addition of 4 or 5 miles, each way, to my direct route.  I went to the loo and then visited the petrol station to top up my car’s fuel tank.

 

I retraced my route back towards the M6, but left at Junction 9 hoping to find my way across country to Golborne.  As it was approaching rush-hour, I had to queue on the slip-road for a number of traffic light changes before finally turning left at the roundabout which straddled the motorway; I also kindly let a mini car transfer into my lane whilst I was waiting ... although it does annoy me when people jump a queue and then expect to be allowed into the correct lane!

 

However, having reached another roundabout just a short distance further on, I couldn’t locate the road I’d seen on the map and instead ended up on a dual-carriageway leading to Junction 22 of the M6.  I thus re-joined the motorway, before leaving again at Junction 23.  I then headed eastwards along the A580, for a short distance to reach the hotel at Stone Cross.  I arrived at 16:50.

 

Having booked in, it took approximately 6 trips to unload my belongings from my car; I find it impossible to travel light!  My friend Sandra had already booked in so, after a friendly chat, we headed to dinner at 19:30 in the adjacent restaurant.  Despite Sandra having booked a table when she’d arrived, via the hotel receptionist, we got the impression that no table had actually been reserved for us. 

 

After a short delay, we were shown to a four-person table in the corner of the room where the breakfast bar is set out each morning.  The table must have been hastily cleaned, as the cleaning product and cloth were still sat on the windowsill beside me; the waitress later spotted these and removed them.  Today I chose haddock and chips for my evening meal, followed by a limoncello trifle.   

 

I was quite restless during the night; I think the bed quilt made me too warm.  I’d set the alarm for 06:00 so having showered and washed and dried my hair, I was ready to go to breakfast with Sandra at the arranged time of 07:15.  As I was in room 111 this year, which I’ve occupied at least once before during my previous seven visits to this hotel, it was my turn to ‘collect’ my friend who was in room 101, en route.  

 

Breakfast, consisted of three rashers of bacon, half a fried tomato, a pork sausage, mushrooms, and an egg omelette.  Also, two pots of yoghurt, a croissant (cold), plus a glass of fruit juice (either cranberry or apple).  The yoghurts were ‘vicious’; the foil tops had been well-sealed.  They spat at me every day, despite trying to open them so they were facing away from me!  There were a selection of yoghurt flavours, but the peach ones proved harder to find within the selection offered, than did the strawberry or vanilla ones.

 

Having returned to my room, I applied my make-up; it took me two attempts to apply my eye make-up today, as I was experimenting with a new colour of eye-shadow and highlighter.  I also decided to use a freebie Max Factor Lipfinity lipstick which I’d been sent when I’d ordered a couple of their Colour Adapt foundations recently.  The one they sent me was a nude shade, which isn’t what I’d normally wear, but it did stay put for the entire day; in fact it was difficult to remove the product at the end of the day when no longer needed! 

 

I later purchased a couple of dark pink Lipfinity shades, with blue undertones; sending me the freebies definitely had the intended effect of making me want more!   

 

Today’s outfit was a blue-green thermal T-shirt, a blue-green patterned thermal T-shirt, a grey background with black birds thermal T-shirt, a NHS cardigan in a shade described as ‘Lake’, a dark turquoise fleece, a turquoise check M & S skirt with side front frill and a fishtail, a black gillet, grey tights, plum-coloured Angelica Hotter shoes, purple Kipling Defea handbag, and a BHS teal-coloured padded jacket.  I wore a pair of multi-coloured butterfly-wing earrings throughout the three days; they looked great with every outfit I wore!  

 

We set off for the racecourse at 09:50 today, in Sandra’s car; it takes 35 minutes to get there, via the A580, the M57 and Aintree Lane.  We’d already attached the parking docket to the rear-view mirror, so were waved through quickly by the marshal patrolling the Anchor Bridge entrance.  The Steeplechase car park is situated to the inside of the Grand National course, adjacent to the Melling Road; we joined one of three queues waiting to have the contents of our vehicles checked.  Whilst waiting, a large police horse-box had also arrived; we could hear the horses inside stamping their feet noisily!

 

Having been cleared through security, which included a search of the boot and the engine compartment, we were directed to continue along the driveway before parking near the far end of the enclosure.  A section of the area where vehicles would normally be parked was cordoned off; perhaps it had become boggy due to the persistent rain in recent weeks.  With the car locked, coats and scarves now worn, we headed back up the driveway, passing a cluster of portable toilet cabins en route. 

 

Having walked to the entrance, we were asked to join the back of a stationary queue whilst workers were checked-in.  I thought the gates would open at 10:30 ... but they didn’t let us in until 11:20!  It was breezy today, but fortunately it wasn’t raining, otherwise we’d have been soaked by this time.  One of the guys in the group ahead of us gave his jacket to one of his female companions, for her to wear; her outfit wasn’t designed to be standing around on a day like today!  Presumably they’d been sitting inside one of the stands once settled. 

 

Having been cleared through the second security check – this time it was handbag contents, a body scan and ticket scan too, we headed across the Melling Road and racecourse, before travelling aboard an Arriva bus to the drop-off point opposite the grandstands. 

 

We walked across the home straight, currently protected by a green carpet, before heading to the main concourse behind the grandstands in our endeavour to track down someone selling race-cards; we eventually located a small stand, having already missed finding it when heading in the opposite direction! 

 

Our first mission completed, we then purchased bottles of water from a stall beside the Earl Of Derby stand, prior to visiting the little girls’ room located to the rear of the aforementioned stand.  It was then time to head to the steppings below the Weighing Room; we like standing there, before racing, just watching the world go by ... provided it’s not raining.

 

Today we saw, amongst others, AP McCoy, Ruby Walsh, presenter Nick Luck, the Daily Mirror’s Newsboy Dave Yates, RUK pundit Jonathan Neesom, the lovely Tom Stanley who was RUK’s roving reporter today, RUK pundit Dave Nevison, the BHA’s Nick Rust, jockey Tom Scudamore with his two daughters, ex-jockey and now TV presenter Luke Harvey, Paul Nicholls’ Assistant Trainer Harry Derham, commentator Derek Thompson, ITV Racing’s Oli Bell, trainer Oliver Sherwood, BBC racing journalist Cornelius Lysaght, trainer Alan King, amateur jockey and amputee Captain Guy Disney, and RUK’s Gordon Brown.  At one point, injury-sidelined Ruby took off at great speed, despite having to use crutches and wear a protective boot on his damaged leg.

 

Unusually this year, past Grand National winners were paraded on each of the three days.  With many of the past winners having passed away in recent years, or being unable to travel due to infirmity, there were only five parading today – Bindaree (2002), Mon Mome (2009), Neptune Collonges (2012), Pineau De Re (2014) and Rule The World (2016); Silver Birch (2007) missed today’s parade as he’d already done a stint on the concourse when opening the new Silver Birch Bar! 

 

For the first time, there was an Opening Ceremony too.  The Red Devils dropped in, eventually; the cloud base was low and it had delayed the parachutists as a result.  In fact the horses taking part in the first race were already at the starting gate by the time they glided in to land!  A singer named Laura Wright performed too. 

 

Accepting the new Grand National trophy, on course from the Red Devils, was Kenny Dalglish; that made Sandra’s day as he is one of her sporting heroes!  Kenny was also interviewed by ITV Racing’s Oli Bell ... cwe overheard colleague Ed Chamberlain jokingly ask his colleague if he’d understood a word of what the former footballer/manager had said, so strong was his Glaswegian accent!     

 

The off-time of the first race of the day was 13:45.  The favourite was Cyrname, trained by Paul Nicholls and ridden by Sean Bowen; price 2-1.  There were no greys in this race.

Having exited onto the racecourse, the runners headed to the starting gate, which was at the beginning of the back straight. 

 

Race 1

Manifesto Novices’ Chase (Grade 1)

Distance

2 miles 4 furlongs (16 fences to negotiate)

No. of Runners

6

Brain Power, Calino D’Airy, Cyrname, Finian’s Oscar, Modus, Rene’s Girl

 

And then they were off, with Calino D’Airy, Rene’s Girl and the hooded Cyrname leading the runners to the first fence.  Finian’s Oscar travelled behind these, whilst Modus and Brain Power brought up the rear; Modus wasn’t fluent at this one.  

Cyrname went into a clear lead as the horses continued to the second fence; they all jumped this well, with Brain Power in last place.  The third fence was the first open-ditch; again no casualties here and with Modus now relegated to the back of the field as they headed over the sanded track-way on their journey to the fourth obstacle.

All six runners cleared this well and Cyrname led the runners into the far turn, followed by Rene’s Girl, Finian’s Oscar, Calino D’Airy, Modus and Brain Power.  The fifth was the sometimes tricky cross-fence, along the side of the racecourse.  The leader momentarily wanted to bear off to his left on the approach to it, along the Grand National route, but then he spied the fence and flew over it; there were no noticeable errors at this one.      

Sean Bowen’s mount led the sextet into the home straight on the first occasion, from Rene’s Girl, Calino D’Airy, Finian’s Oscar, Modus and Brain Power.  The horses cleared the next okay, although the Nicky Henderson-runner got a little close to it.  The following fence was the second open-ditch; again they all jumped this okay.

Cyrname then led them on the route across the Grand National course to reach the eighth fence.  Five of the runners jumped this well; whereas Brain Power hit the top, landed steeply and capsized as a result.  Both horse and jockey were quickly on their feet, with the former continuing after the others as they headed down past the grandstands and winning post; one circuit now to travel. 

The field was well strung out as they headed around the bottom bend; Cyrname four or five lengths ahead of the mare which, in turn, was three lengths clear of Calino D’Airy.  Finian’s Oscar tracked him, with Modus at the rear of the field.  Once again the leader’s head-carriage was momentarily awkward as they turned into the back straight, but he soon straightened up having seen the first fence therein.

The leader flew over the fence; the others cleared it okay, apart from Finian’s Oscar who was a little awkward and subsequently urged away from it by jockey Robbie Power.  The quintet continued on their journey to the tenth fence; the pace unrelenting.  The leader was well clear of his rivals as they cleared it and there were no noticeable errors here.

The following obstacle was an open-ditch; the leader cleared it well, although he did have a slight tendency to jump out to his right.  Both Modus and Finian’s Oscar were less fluent than their three rivals, with the latter was ridden away from it.  The runners headed across the sanded track-way on their way to five out; the main body of the field had closed upon the leader now.

Finian’s Oscar put in a sticky jump at this one and was pushed away from the obstacle by Robbie Power having dropped to last place.  Cyname’s rivals were snapping at his heels as they continued to the cross-fence; Renee’s Girl took the advantage shortly afterwards.  Sean Bowen’s mount fought back as they turned into the home straight, drawing alongside the mare as they approached three out.

Renee’s Girl and Cyrname jumped this in unison, from Calino D’Airy, Modus who made an error, and Robbie Power riding furiously aboard Finian’s Oscar at the rear.  Two out was the final open-ditch and the Dan Skelton-runner landed narrowly ahead over this one; all the field cleared it well.  The mare was being ridden as they headed across the route of the Grand National course; Cyrname continued to be her nearest pursuer, from Calino D’Airy, the improving Finian’s Oscar followed by Modus.

As the fence approached, Finian’s Oscar suddenly rallied and he jumped the fence upsides Calino D’Airy and Cyrname; Renee’s Girl was just a couple of lengths ahead of this trio.  The Colin Tizzard-runner was now in full flight and, despite making a number of jumping errors earlier in the race, he stayed on past Renee’s Girl to lead within the final 75 yards, winning by 2 lengths at the line.  Calino D’Airy claimed 3rd place, with Cyrname fading into 4th and Modus 5th.

Having pulled up, the winning jockey endeavoured to replace his silk cap, it having slipped off during the early stages of the race.  I have to say that Robbie Power is a brilliant jockey as, for most of the race, his mount looked the least likely to win; respect! 

Result

Horse

Jockey

Trainer

1st

Finian’s Oscar

Colin Tizzard

Robbie Power

2nd

Rene’s Girl

Dan Skelton

Harry Skelton

3rd

Calino D’airy

Henry de Bromhead

Sean Flanagan

4th

Cyrname

Paul Nicholls

Sean Bowen

 

We decided not to return to the steppings above the Winners’ Enclosure following the race.

 

Sadly, during the following summer, Finian’s Oscar passed away as a result of complications after a bout of the dreaded colic:

https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2018/jul/10/finians-oscar-dies-during-summer-racing-break-after-colic-treatment

 

The ‘Manifesto’, which is named after a horse which ran in the Grand National 8 times between 1895 and 1904 winning it twice along with placed efforts too, was first run in 2009.  It’s not been lucky for a couple of recent winners, with the 2016 victor Arzal passing away not long after his triumph due to an infection.

 

Report from the Stewards’ Room regarding this race:

 

Race 1 - 1:45pm

THE MANIFESTO NOVICES' STEEPLE CHASE (CLASS 1) (Grade 1)

 

The Stable Inspecting Officer reported that the representative of Dan Skelton, the trainer of RENE’S GIRL (IRE), NUBE NEGRA (SPA) and SAVELLO (IRE), had brought an unlabelled substance into the racecourse stables. Dan Skelton, the trainer’s travelling Head Groom, the Stable Inspecting Officer and the Anti-Doping Manager were interviewed. Being satisfied that the horses had received only normal food and water by mouth on the day of racing, the Stewards allowed RENE’S GIRL (IRE), NUBE NEGRA (SPA) and SAVELLO (IRE) to run and ordered that some of the horses be 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 favourite for the second race was Apple’s Shakira, trained by Nicky Henderson and ridden by Barry Geraghty; price 13-8.  She was endeavouring to redeem herself, having finished a disappointing 4th in the Triumph Hurdle the previous month.

 

There was one grey in this race, namely Gumball, and there were three fillies – Apple’s Shakira, Cristal Icon and Malaya.  We Have A Dream represented owners Simon Munir and Isaac Souede; as did French-raider Beau Gosse who sported their French silks. 

The starting gate for this 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 runners circled to the inside of the track, having had their girths checked.

 

Race 2

Anniversary 4-Year-Old Juvenile Hurdle (Grade 1)

Distance

2 miles 110 yards (9 hurdles to negotiate)

No. of Runners

10

Beau Gosse, Et Moi Alors, Gumball, Les Arceaux, Nube Negra, Padleyourowncanoe, We Have A Dream, Apple’s Shakira, Cristal Icon, Malaya

 

Having exited from the holding pen onto the racecourse, the runners headed away from the starting gate before turning back towards it and then they were off.

The field was led away by Padleyourowncanoe, who’d finished 4th in the Fred Winter at Cheltenham, from We Have A Dream and Les Arceaux; bringing up the rear were Cristal Icon and Nube Negra.  Shortly afterwards they entered the home straight to approach their first obstacle; all ten runners cleared it safely.

The Colin Tizzard-runner continued to lead the way as they headed towards and over the second flight; We Have A Dream was a close second, from Beau Gosse, Les Arceaux, Malaya, Gumball, Et Moi Alors, Apple’s Shakira, the Spanish-bred Nube Negra and, finally, Cristal Icon.  It was a longer run between the second and third flights than the previous two; the leader got a little bit close to this one and Gumball wasn’t particularly fluent here either.

The runners continued down past the main grandstands and winning post with one circuit now to travel.  They subsequently swept around the bottom bend and into the back straight with the back-marker Cristal Icon slightly detached in rear.  All of the runners took the fourth flight in their stride.  The pace being set was quite strong and, as a result, the field was beginning to string out at they headed towards the next.

We Have A Dream jumped the flight upsides Padleyourowncanoe.  The Gigginstown-runner Les Arceaux was dropping swiftly back through the field and also made an error here.  Padleyourowncanoe and We Have A Dream disputed the lead as the runners continued across the sanded track-way on their journey to four out.  Daryl Jacob’s mount led here and Les Arceaux, having been relegated to the back of the field, was being pushed along and losing ground with every stride.

There was no change at the head of affairs as the runners headed along the side of the course; Beau Gosse disputed second position with Padleyourowncanoe, Malaya followed these, from Gumball, Et Moi Alors, Apple’s Shakira, Nube Negra, Cristal Icon and the tailed off Les Arceaux.  The latter was pulled up before three out.

The leader was pressing on as they headed into the home straight, with just three flights to negotiate.  He travelled to the far side, with Padleyourowncanoe taking a centre line and Beau Gosse preferring the near-side.  We Have A Dream cleared the flight well; in contrast the Colin Tizzard-runner blundered here and soon lost his place; Beau Gosse was weakening by this stage too.  It was now left to Gumball, Apple’s Shakira and Nube Negra to set off in pursuit of the leader.   

Meanwhile, We Have A Dream had reached two out and flew over the hurdle; Apple’s Shakira over-jumped it slightly, but there were no major errors from any of the runners, even from those which were tiring.  The leader continued to travel strongly as the field headed to the final flight, with Gumball the sole rival within any kind of striking distance.

We Have A Dream jumped the last well, as did Richard Johnson’s mount, but the latter was no match for the Nicky Henderson-trained runner as he ran on strongly, against the far rail, all the way to the line; the winning distance was 7 lengths.  Apple’s Shakira came home in 3rd place, 10 lengths behind the runner-up.  Nube Negra, who had bunny-hopped the last, was caught close home by Cristal Icon for 4th place.      

Et Moi Alors finished 6th, Beau Gosse 7th, Malaya 8th and early pace-setter Padleyourowncanoe 9th and last. 

The winner had missed the Cheltenham Festival because he had a temperature, but he had won the Grade 1 Future Champions Finale Juvenile Hurdle at Chepstow earlier in the season.  

Result

Horse

Jockey

Trainer

1st

We Have A Dream

Nicky Henderson

Daryl Jacob

2nd

Gumball

Philip Hobbs

Richard Johnson

3rd

Apple’s Shakira

Nicky Henderson

Barry Geraghty

4th

Cristal Icon

Thomas Mullins

David Mullins

 

We didn’t return to the Winners’ Enclosure following the race, choosing instead to remain in position close to the horse-walk exit point. 

 

Report from the Stewards’ Room regarding this race:

 

Race 2 - 2:20pm

THE DOOM BAR ANNIVERSARY 4-Y-O JUVENILE HURDLE RACE (CLASS 1) (Grade 1)

 

NUBE NEGRA (SPA) wore earplugs which were removed at the start.

GUMBALL (FR), placed second, appeared to show an improvement in form compared with its previous run at Cheltenham on 16 March 2018, where the gelding was pulled up. The representative of Philip Hobbs explained that GUMBALL (FR) appreciated the better ground conditions on this occasion. The gelding was routine tested.

The performance of MALAYA (FR), which finished eighth of nine, beaten 39¾ lengths, was considered. Paul Nicholls explained that the filly was feeling the effects of a long campaign and will not run again this season. The Veterinary Officer reported that a post-race examination of MALAYA (FR) during routine testing failed to reveal any abnormalities.

On the bend leaving the back straight, BEAU GOSSE (FR), placed seventh, edged left crowding GUMBALL (FR), placed second, onto APPLE’S SHAKIRA (FR), placed third, which resulted in ET MOI ALORS (FR), placed sixth, being tightened for room, but after viewing a recording of the incident, it was found that no riding offence was involved.

Following the race, James Reveley reported that BEAU GOSSE (FR), placed seventh, hung right throughout.

The favourite for the third race was Might Bite, trained by Nicky Henderson and ridden by Nico de Boinville; price 4-5.  He’d finished as runner-up to Native River in this season’s Cheltenham Gold Cup; the first two in the race had put the remainder of the field to the sword, with the Colin Tizzard runner prevailing due to his stamina on the rain-softened ground.

There was one grey in this race, namely Bristol De Mai.

The starting gate for this race was at the far end of the home straight, with that and two full circuits to travel.  The horses circled out on the track whilst girths were checked then, as the start time approached, the horses were ridden away from the starting gate before turning and walking in. 

 

Race 3

The Betway Bowl Chase (Grade 1)

Distance

3 miles 1 furlong (19 fences to negotiate)

No. of Runners

8

Bristol De Mai, Clan Des Obeaux, Definitly Red, Double Shuffle, Might Bite, Sizing Codelco, Sub Lieutenant, Tea For Two

 

And then they were off, with Bristol De Mai and Definitly Red leading narrowly as the runners headed to the first fence.  The eight very experienced chasers cleared this well, although Sub Lieutenant was slower than his rivals.  The competitors continued to the second fence; the first of the open-ditches.  The grey was now leading from Might Bite, Definitly Red, Double Shuffle, Clan Des Obeaux, Sub Lieutenant, Tea For Two and Sizing Codelco.

The leader put in a mighty leap at this one; with the others all jumping it well too.  Bristol De Mai then led the runners on their route across the Grand National course on their way to the third obstacle.  Definitly Red departed here; he got too close to the fence and dived over it as a result.  The horse remained on his feet, but jockey Danny Cook became unbalanced and ended up with both of his legs over the near-side of his mount and subsequently lost his battle with gravity; unseated.  Fortunately no-one was hampered as a result of this incident.  The fallen jockey walked off the course, but was subsequently attended to.

Meanwhile his seven rivals continued on the journey down past the grandstands and winning post, with two circuits to travel.  Bristol De Mai led the way around the bottom bend, from Might Bite, Clan Des Obeaux alongside Double Shuffle, the loose horse, Tea For Two with Sub Lieutenant and, finally, Sizing Codelco.

The septet entered the back straight, heading for the fourth fence; at the rear of the field, Sizing Codelco made an error here and he was the least fluent at the fifth fence too.  The following obstacle was the second open-ditch; the favourite almost joined the leader as they cleared it.  The runners subsequently galloped across the sanded track-way on their way to the seventh fence.

The whole field cleared this one okay and headed into the far turn still led by Bristol De Mai; the loose horse continued with them.  Daryl Jacob’s mount stretched ahead as they travelled along the side of the racecourse, on their way to the cross-fence.  They all jumped this well, apart from Sizing Codelco who was slow and subsequently lost ground upon this rivals.

The runners headed into the home straight, with Clan Des Obeaux being hampered against the inside rail by the loose horse as they did so.  The leader got a little close to the first fence therein, thus allowing Might Bite to almost draw alongside him; Double Shuffle also got a little bit close to it. 

The leading duo were being followed closely by the loose horse as they continued to the open-ditch; the favourite out-jumped his rival yet again and took a half-length advantage as they began travelling across the route of the Grand National course on their way to fence number eleven; this would be the last fence the next time around. The grey had regained the lead by the time they jumped it. 

Thus the runners headed down past the main grandstands once more, led by Bristol De Mai, from Might Bite, the loose horse, Clan Des Obeaux, Double Shuffle, Tea For Two, Sub Lieutenant and Sizing Codelco.  Eight to ten lengths covered the field as they entered the back straight for the final time; Double Shuffle and Sizing Codelco made errors at the first fence therein.

The runners moved on to the next, another plain fence; there were no noticeable errors at this one.  The following obstacle was the penultimate open-ditch, with no mishaps taking place and both Double Shuffle and Sizing Codelco subsequently being pushed along.  The runners continued over the sanded track-way to reach the next, with the favourite out-jumping the grey and Sub Lieutenant now relegated to last position. 

The leading duo almost matched strides as they headed into the far turn and subsequently travelled along the side of the racecourse on the approach to the cross-fence.  It was Might’s Bite turn to make an error, having previously out-jumped the grey throughout the race.  This allowed Bristol De Mai to gain a length as they headed away from the fence. Clan Des Obeaux continued to travel in third position, preceded by the loose horse.  Tea For Two travelled next, from Double Shuffle, Sizing Codelco and, finally, Sub Lieutenant. 

Bristol De Mai led the field into the home straight, from Might Bite; once again the loose horse had hampered Clan Des Obeaux on the turn.  The grey was narrowly ahead as they jumped three out whilst, further back in the field, Sizing Codelco jumped into fourth position over this one, relegating Tea For Two to fifth position. 

Might Bite hit the front just before the final open-ditch, clearing it well and extending his advantage as they continued across the Grand National course on their journey to the last fence.  The leader soared over the obstacle and stayed on well as he was pushed out to the line, tracked by the loose horse, to triumph by 7 lengths.  

Bristol De Mai completed in 2nd, 3¼ lengths ahead of Clan Des Obeaux, with Sizing Codelco 4th, Sub Lieutenant had plugged on to claim 5th, with Tea For Two 6th and Double Shuffle last.  They all got a prize, with the 8th-placed monies going to the winner too.    

Nico de Boinville said the ground was a little bit softer than would be preferred for Might Bite, but he handled it well today; with this win, the horse returned to favouritism for the 2019 Gold Cup, replacing Cheltenham Festival winning novice Presenting Percy at the top of the betting.

Result

Horse

Jockey

Trainer

1st

Might Bite

Nicky Henderson

Nico de Boinville

2nd

Bristol De Mai

Nigel Twiston-Davies

Daryl Jacob

3rd

Clan Des Obeaux

Paul Nicholls

Harry Cobden

4th

Sizing Codelco

Colin Tizzard

Robbie Power

 

We decided to remain beside the horse-walkway following the race.

 

Report from the Stewards’ Room regarding this race:

 

Race 3 - 2:50pm

THE BETWAY BOWL STEEPLE CHASE (CLASS 1) (Grade 1)

 

BRISTOL DE MAI (FR) wore earplugs and SUB LIEUTENANT (IRE) and TEA FOR TWO both wore earplugs which were removed at the start.

The performance of DOUBLE SHUFFLE (IRE), which finished last of seven, was considered. Tom George could offer no explanation for the gelding’s performance. The Veterinary Officer reported that a post-race examination of DOUBLE SHUFFLE (IRE) during routine testing failed to reveal any abnormalities.

 

 

That’s it for Part One of my Grand National Thursday diary ...

 

Click here to read my Grand National Thursday Diary Part II

 

 

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