Day one of the North Wests premier sporting event was baked in beautiful spring sunshine as over 30,000 people poured into Aintree to enjoy a top class days racing on opening day of the Crabbie’s Grand National Festival
While the Grand National meeting on Saturday remains The race of the whole meeting, It is a meeting as usual packed out with top class Graded races,tough handicaps and a good Hunter Chase plus a couple of bumpers.
Today’s big race was the Aintree Hurdle but for many the Fox Hunters over those big green monsters for the Amateur riders was the main act with the four Grade One races being merely the starter course.
1.40 One Magnificent City Manifesto Novices’ Chase,Grade 1,2m4f,16 fences,5yo+
A top front running display by Ruby Walsh on the 5yo Clarcam as he held off the attentions of Vibrato Valtat who both decide to avoid taking on Un De Sceaux on Saturday by treating us to a top start to the meeting.
Always jumping well he saw out the trip really well and he could be even better suited over three miles in time,he is one to keep on your side next season
Vibarato Valtat ran a credible race on his first try at the trip and despite Dodging Bullets being the main Paul Nicholls two miler,he will be in the shake up but it’s just possible the big 2m4f events will be his target next season.
Favourite Josses Hill continues to be let down by his jumping,he has talent so maybe he will have time to reflect on this when he goes off for his summer holidays.
2.15 Betfred Anniversary 4-Y-O Juvenile Hurdle,Grade 1,2m1f,9 flights,4yo
A fair renewal for the 2014-15 4yo hurdlers, All eyes were on Hargam here, the Triumph Hurdle third was sent off the 8-11 favourite.
It was however the Fred Winter form that came to the top here as in a three way battle after the last flight up the Aintree straight All Yours under Sam Twiston-Davies just got the edge as he came through on the far side rail to pop Devilment and Bristol De Mai, these three were well clear from Stars Over The Sea in fourth who was running on at the end.
All Yours was fifth in the Fred Winter and looks likely to get further in time,wether he goes for the top hurdles or chasing is another thing but flatter tracks seem to suit him better
Devilment for John Ferguson has won over hurdles at Wetherby and Doncaster and was fourth in the Triumph,he can improve next season and Bristol De Mai will be an even better horse when sent over fences.
2.50 Betfred Bowl Chase,Grade 1,3m1f,19 fences,5yo+
Cheltenham Gold Cup form was tested here as the fourth,seventh and eighth placed horses all went to post for a nice looking renewal of this last Grade One event of the season for top class staying chasers.
It turned out to be one of the finished of the season as the top class Silviniaco Conti won his sixth race in the North West and his third at Aintree but he had to do it the hard way as he was chased all the way to the line by Ballynagour who is very lightly raced but was given a patient ride by Tom Scudamore.
Noel Fehily though has a great relationship with Conti and he fought when he was asked to do so and put in a lovely leap at the second last then at the final fence with Holywell and Ballynagour out after him he found himself under a real battle but the line just came in time for him.
Siliviniaco Conti was back in his comfort zone today,a flat track over three miles and a bit more, No doubt after his summer break the main targets will be Lancashire Chase,King George and Bowl races.
Ballynagour was having his second run over further than 2m4f and it won’t be the last,he could have more to offer, Holywell might just be hard to place now but could be National horse in the next couple of seasons or so.
3.25 Doom Bar Aintree Hurdle,Grade 1,2m4f,11 flights,4yo+
A race which was missing last years winner The New One plus Hurricane Fly and Annie Power didn’t take run having been saved for Punchestown
Jezki was somewhat a rather fortunate winner here as favourite Arctic Fire gave Ruby Walsh a crashing fall at the last flight when seemingly pulling a cart,he probably would have won and his future lies in the 2m4f area unless he gets sent over fences.
Coming to the last flight Rock On Ruby and Jezki were flat out while Ruby Walsh on Arctic Fire was cruising on the steel when he did exactly what Annie Power did at Cheltenham and fall at the last,this hampered Rock On Ruby who managed to keep upright but by this time Jezki was away to gift AP a big race win at Aintree.
Arctic Fire got up safely to a joyous reception from the crowd whole Ruby Walsh missed his last race ride.
Jezki was landing his seventh Grade One win and after this should go to Punchestown, Rock On Ruby could also go for the big stayers race there.
4.05 Crabbie’s Fox Hunters’ Chase,Class 2,2m5f110yds,18 fences,National Course,6yo+
Quite a high quality renewal of this first race over the big greens of the Grand National course.
Twenty nine went to post and it was not without incident as the previous two winners of the race,Tartan Snow and Warne both went at the first couple of fences along with a few others,more horses went out when in the country but as the field got whittled down it was between two as they emerged from the country.
After last months Cheltenham win On The Fringe easily did the double under Nina Carberry as he strolled home from Pacha Du Polder,Last Time D’Albain and Major Malarkey,all of who were just playing for places.
On The Fringe is one of Ireland’s top hunters,it’s possible after having a go at the Punchestown one that he could be trained for the National next season.
4.40 Betfred Red Rum Handicap Chase,Grade 3,2m,12 fences,5yo+
A good quality running of this contest that is always run at a strong gallop on this tight two mile chase course.
Surf And Turf who has been running with regular consistency since his win over course and distance in October albeit without wining finally got his head in front as he caused a 33-1 shock and gave the bookies a bit of respite.
From the release of the tape the pace was strong, Grand Annual winner Next Sensation was one of a few at the front end as they took no prisoners.
Coming to the cross fence AP took a crashing fall off Ned Buntline,he got up but chucked his helmet on the floor in disgust, turning for home about seven where in with a shout, Next Sensation began to drop back and come to the last Surf And Turf came through to lead and had enough in hand over Darwins Fox and Pearls Legend.
After the big trainers had plundered the big prizes it was good to see Kevin Frost who trains just six in Alcester pick up a a nice pot, rated 132 hopefully the handicapper won’t overreact with him.
5.15 Injured Jockeys Fund Handicap Hurdle,Grade 3,3m110yds,13 flights,4yo+
Twenty two faced this long distance trip which had plenty in it from last months Pertmeps final.
Gordon Elliot landed a double on the day with Taglietelle finding the extra distance no problem at all under Paul Carberry in a real pulsating battle as the second favourite just overhauled favourite Call The Cops by a head and just half a length in front of Master Malt and Regal Encore
Taglietelle is improving a lot, fourth in the Coral Cup behind the exciting Aux Ptit Soins he wik, make a good chaser should he go down that route next term.
Call The Cops is still a top prospect but with Beat That, another Nicky Henderson staying hurdler who is out for the season, questions will need to be asked such as will one stay over timber while another goes over fences?
Day one all done then, Some amazing racing as ever at this fantastic meeting.
Tomorrow is “Ladies” Day at Aintree with the feature race being the Melling Chase over 2m4f and the Topham over the National course.
Until then,thank you for reading and please keep Rat this and spreading the good word.