Has it really finished till 2015?
Of course come October and hopefully December I shall be back their for the Old Roan and then the Becher and Grand Sefton Chases but only the real jumps fans would know that and not the usual once a year people who only think Aintree hosts one meeting.
The Grand National meeting under the stewardship of Chairman Lord Daresbury who stepped down yesterday after twenty five years of careful running and rather than get a collection and a small clock instead had the County Stand renamed The Lord Daresbury Stand in his honour is now a top class three day meeting that complements the Cheltenham Festival and is part and parcel of the lives of not just people in racing but also a Jewell in the crown of the people in Merseyside who protect,respect,love and defend this place like its a member of their own family.
Thursday which is Grand Opening Day but to me should be rebranded as a sort of Countryside Day is the day that’s given over to the racing purists,we are the ones who could bore you senseless about places we have been and which horses we have seen in their novice days, This day had the unique distinction of having three Grade One races as a prelude to the Fox Hunters and Silviniaco Conti and The New One treated us to some wonderful battles added to the opening race of Guitar Pete flying from the clouds to take the 4yo hurdle.
The race over the big greens though was the plus point of the whole meeting for Sam Waley-Cohen who gave an exemplary display of riding on Warne who jumped for fun and not since the 1974 National made a race over these fences so one sided.
Friday and “Ladies” Day which meant the traditional display of unflattering outfits,fake tan and silly shoes but while the people watchers,fashionistas and once a year racegoers come out in force the what I call “real” racing fans probably start to feel like they are in the minority.
As for the racing it was not a vintage Melling Chase this year even though it produced a cracking finish with Boston Bob getting the better of Rolling Aces in a driving and pulsating ride from Paul Townend.
One horse which did catch the eye was Beat That who won the Sefton Novices in the style of a real quality stayer,he could be a potential Gold Cup horse and I can’t wait to see him take on a fence when that time comes.
And so to Saturday and the one race that this whole meeting revolves around,The Grand National, so often this is the race that divides a nation rather than unite it, in some of the Sunday papers today the usual twaddle coming from non racing writers saying these horses are “forced” to race over an impossible course, well clearly old Battle Group showed that if you don’t fancy it then their is nothing you can do.
It always amazes me that people who only watch this one race a year makes them think they are entitled to an opinion about the sport, Lots of people were a bit worried and nervous when the fences were replaced with plastic cores but it was a fantastic decision and has secured the future of the race.
Yesterday we had a race that will go down as one of the most eventful in a long while with fancied horses such as Teaforthree,Long Run,Burton Port and the loveable rogue Tidal Bay all departing,A false start that thankfully didn’t go down the 1993 route then after it a jockeys mutiny!,but it was great to see a small trainer take the big prize in Dr Richard Newland and Pineau De Re with his jockey Leighton Aspell,this is what jump racing is about and unlike last weeks Dubai World Cup it was not won by the big boys.
The jumping season is slowly winding down but during the summer at the various flat meetings when it’s unbearably hot and I’m sinking a nice cool fruit based drink that rhymes with Limbs thoughts will no doubt turn to wanting it to be winter and wrapped up all warm seeing a field of early season novice hurdlers and chasers show their early potential.
One more thing which I would like to mention and that is that Aintree showed just how good and different our various festivals are in racing, We should be proud of how the many different places such as Ascot,Cheltenham,Aintree,Goodwood,Newmarket,Ayr,Perth,York,Doncaster and Chester all host racing and welcome people who travel far and wide to go their supporting local hotels,pubs and restaurants while enjoying the racing from Group One flat racing to Grade One jumping mixed in with ultra tough handicaps and races that bring the potential stars of the future into the public eye for the first time.
The 2014 Grand National meeting may have gone but the memories will remain and the stories told in years to come by those who had the first hand knowledge of what they saw on course, As the famous old phrase by Dr Seuss goes “Don’t cry because it’s over,smile because it happened”