Aintree,so often the place where hopes and dreams can be made and broken in a matter of seconds,home of the most famous of all steeplechases The Grand National but today was one of those rare meetings where the racing is only done on the Mildmay track which is a real specialist for horse and jockey as it seems much tougher than it looks to win on.
The first Graded event of the new season,well technically it’s the Swinton Hurdle down the A580 at sister course Haydock but for those of us who keep to the old styles of the season then it’s here at Aintree where the first big race comes up.
It was the tenth running of this 2m4f steeplechase first run in 2004 on a seven race card which over the years this now two day fixture has produced plenty winners at the big festivals so this is a proper “Future Champions” day in many respects.
October and November are always informative months for jumping fans,lots of untapped potential in the novice hurdles and fences to spot and note down as the big meeting come up thick and fast.
On to the racing then and as alluded to it was a seven race card with some competitive handicaps mixed in with a few novice events and the weather was a real mix of sun which thankfully stayed under cloud for the back end as the card as it meant that all obstacles could be jumped without any of them bypassed as occurred last year.
1.55 Betfred Goals Galore Handicap Hurdle,Class 2,2m1f,9 flights,4yo+ (0-150).
A very good contest on paper with plenty of potential improvers in it,indeed it ended up a case of business as usual for Karinga Dancer trained by Harry Fry who gained some compensation after Rock on Ruby’s thrashing by The New One at Kempton last Sunday by winning the £12,512 pot and making it four wins on the bounce,held up in the early stages of the race he made good progress down the back and found a gap up the inside to lead over the last flight to pull away from Bygones of Brid who ran a gallant race while Ifbutandwhynot was in third.
This was a useful performance from an improving type and will be in for a good hike from his rating of 135,it’s possible a trip to Cheltenham for the Greatwood could be on the cards unless they switch him to fences,Bygones of Brid was well in on his hurdle rating but will always find another one to good,he’s 10 now but runs a solid race while the third ran well and will benefit from the outing.
2.30 Betfred Mobile Sports Veterans Chase,Class 2,3m1f,19 fences,10yo+ (0-145).
A cracking finish to this battle of the old warriors,seven went to post with six of them being 10 and the other one 11,Fruity O’Rooney who was sent off favourite made the early running until getting headed at the cross fence then back peddled turning in for home,Hey Big Spender who travelled well but couldn’t pick up as they came to the second last which left a battle between Pigeon Island and Jamsie Hall as they went over the last fence and on the run in it was Irish raider Jamsie Hall who hung on by a neck from Pigeon Island in a pulsating typical Aintree finish on the Mildmay course.
I like these Veterans Chases,they keep the same type of horse together who are susceptible to younger legs getting the better of them nowadays, it’s only a pity this wasn’t over the big greens here,that would make the race even more interesting.
3.05 Betfred Monet’s Garden Old Roan Chase,Grade 2,2m4f,16 Fences,4yo+ Ltd Hcap.
A wide open renewal for this contest with eleven runners going to post,former winners at the Cheltenham and Aintree festivals in this race which was the first Graded even of the new season,
Astracad made it a really good gallop from the tapes going up with Mr Moonshine and a few of them were making mistakes in the early stages as Sam Twiston Davies took no prisoners,the complexion changed as they came to the cross fence which was four out as Walkon unseated Choc Thornton who in turn cannoned into Wishful Thinking.
Walkon wasn’t affected,he just met the fence on a bad stride and went through it,so turning for home Astracad and Mr Moonshine were still at it hammer and tongues until Mr Moonshine weakened after two out then Conquisto under the A.P. McCoy drive led over the final fence and was driven out to beat Astracad with Viva Colonia staying on into third spot
Conquisto is certainly improving and the 2m4f trip seems ideal for him now,he will more than likely end up at Cheltenham for the Paddy Power Gold Cup next month and he will run his usual sound race,Astracad needs dropping a few pounds but will probably go up after this while Viva Colonia could find a bit of improvement in him.
Wishful Thinking and Edgardo Sol never really featured,Wishful Thinking put in a few sloppy errors and could never pick up where as Edgardo Sol doesn’t seem to get 2m4f and a return to 2m will be more to his liking for now.
3.40 Betfred Mobile Lotto Handicap Chase,Class 3,2m4f,16 fences,4yo+ (0-135).
A reasonable contest at best here,Saved by John made most of the running despite making a couple of errors on the way round and was headed inside the last furlong and overhauled by eventual winner Rossini’s Dancer from the Nick Alexander stable to go on to a 2.25 length victory,Carlito Brigante ran a fair race in third on his first start for Karen McLintock and he could pick up a nice race somewhere during the season.
The winner was follow up from a recent win at Hexham and could come back here for the Grand Sefton over the big greens in December but it will all depend now on how the handicapper treats him after this.
4.15 Betfred Mobile Casino Novices Handicap Hurdle,Class 4,3m110yds,13 flights,4yo+ (0-117)
A couple of non runners reduced the quality to this race somewhat for me but inevitably the cream rose to the top at the business end here,Milano Magic made all the running under Lucy Alexander until his stamina left him in the last furlong but who else than A.P. got his second win of the day under Josies Orders for Jonjo O’Neill who appreciated the step up to 3m after being 7/15 in a recent Uttoxeter race over 2m4f,Sin Bin back in second spot has ability and can win a race like this sooner than later.
4.50 Betfred Bingo Novices Chaze,Class 3,2m4f,16 fences,4yo+
A solid and professional performance by Shutthefrontdoor to give Jonjo a quick double and A.P. a nice treble on the day.
Held up early behind long time leader Beeves he was cruising on the steel coming to the second last fence and stayed on after the last to win by half a length,the trip was not ideal for him though and he will be better suited going over three miles and he can only improve this season,Beeves ran a credible race and has plenty left in him while Yesyoucan who was in fourth and last will have learnt from this and will be better when sent handicapping.
5.20 Betfred “Racings Biggest Supporter” Maiden Hurdle,2m110yds,9 flights,4yo+
A race to keep an eye on here without doubt in my view,at least half the field have plenty of potential for improvement and the form should work out in the next few weeks.
The talking horse was Regal Encore who was sent off 8/15f and he travelled well this runner up in the festival bumper but was tapped for speed by eventual winner Garde La Victoire a winner of a junior bumper at Exeter last season on his one and only start for Philip Hobbs.
This was a good and eyecatching performance here,he jumped ok in the main but will have learnt so much from this while Regal Encore ran ok but will be better off being upped to 2m4f and allowed to be more prominent in his racing,Pulpitarian in third was a winner of three races in his flat careering the USA but Aintree is much different to Arlington and Laurel Park and will be more than capable of picking up a small race at the likes of Ayr or Musselburgh.
So a fair afternoon here at the home of the Grand National,the next big meeting here is the Becher Chase on Saturday 7th December which features two races over the big fences which are always worth watching and on probable soft ground will make it a stamina sapping day.
For myself and the blog here I shall be at Carlisle on Wednesday for a transferred meeting from Haydock then on Saturday it’s Wetherby for the Charlie Hall Chase and West Yorkshire Hurdle,both Grade Two events over 3m1f with some real top notch horses guaranteed to line up then the first delve into the 2013 Rugby League World Cup with Tonga v Cook Islands in Leigh.
Below,Monet’s Garden parading at Aintree.
Below,Looking down from the stands.