Day two and it was Ladies Day at Aintree where the Scouse girls go all out as they enjoy there annual trip into the world of National Hunt racing albeit sometimes without seeing an actual horse,jockey or race!
Seven competitive races with a top mix of tricky handcaps,Graded action and the usual excitement of the Topham Trophy which gives the National jockeys a chance to get there eye on over the big greens
1.40 Alder Hey Handicap Hurdle,Grade 3,2m4f,11 flights,4yo+
On paper a competitive looking handicap hurdle but it all revolved around one horse at the end,Theinval for trainer Nicky Henderson who has dominated this day over the past few years and Theinval followed up his win in the consolation race for hurdlers at Kempton the day after the festival here although he was being hunted down by The Saint James and Daneking but the line just came in time, an extra furlong and he would have been beat.
Theinval is happy on flat tracks and should make a fair chaser unless he sticks to timber, The Saint James was thrown in here off 138 and the handicapper may take note of this, Daneking could be better over further than this in time.
2.15 E-Lites Top Novices’ Hurdle,Grade 2,2m110yds,9 flights,4yo+
A fair race although Qewy was the only one who ran in the Supreme Novices’ to come here.
Finally the North had good reason to celebrate as Cyrus Darius for Malcom Jefferson and Brian Hughes made it three hurdle wins on the bounce.
The pace was solid and the field well strung out as they went on their journey and it caused a few to make a few mistakes at their hurdles.
Cyrus Darius was always travelling well and was skipping over them,travelling to the last he easily had the measure of Vago Collonges and Qewy, he is a huge prospect for next season when he could be sent over fences, 2m will be his trip.
Favourite Glingerburn ran ok but in reality he is better over further,no doubt Nicky Richards will get a nice 2m4f Novice Chase at Ayr or Carlisle lined up for him.
Vago Collonges and Qewy both ran well in defeat but they came up against a really good type here
2.50 Betfred Mildmay Novices’ Chase,Grade 1,3m1f,19 fences,5yo+
A race which was all about one horse, Saphir Du Rheu, he’s had a mixed bag of achievements this season taking an Exeter Novice Chase plus a Cleeve Hurdle, this run was a mix of going for a big prize and sizing up if he’s a potential Gold Cup horse or a World Hurlde type in which he was runner up at this seasons Fesitval.
Saphire Du Rheu was a bloodless winner here,jumping efficiently he was happy under Sam Twiston Davies to sit up with the pace and took over at the cross fence as he went past Caraig Mor and sailed home by 15 lengths ahead from Caraig Mor who in turn just hung on from Irish Saint.
Saphire Du Rheu is slowly getting the hang of chases and could be a Gold Cup type,it was only his second win over fences so may start off next season in an Intermediate Chase or possibly the Hennessy to avoid Silviniaco Conti, he is a top horse for next season.
Carraig Mor is a tough sort but is better with good ground and was much better than when I saw him at Haydock in January, Irish Saint is better over 2m4f and didn’t really stay.
Wakanada found himself twenty three lengths back in fourth,he has had enough for the season
3.25 Betfred Melling Chase,Grade 1,2m4f,16 fences,5yo+
This years race was much better than least year, although made up of top quality horses plenty had questions to answer regarding their form and attitude.
AP McCoy won what could possibly be his last big race win at Aintree here on the Gordon Elliot trained Don Cossack.
The race was not without incident,Balder Succes went at the first open ditch and Sire De Grugy went at the first in the straight,after he fell he then decided to explore future options and jumped The Chair then popped over the water
At the business end and as usual Cue Card took them along and really enjoyed himself,Don Cossack was up with him,so to was Al Ferof.
Turning for home,AP had to cajole him and led after three out,after this it was a case of ref stop the contest, Cue Card was tired back in second,Johns Spirit was third who in turn was nicely ahead of Champagne Fever.
This was much easier from Don Cossack after his third in the Ryanair Chase,he met a few on the wrong stride but he’s a clever horse, wether he gets upped to three miles is another thing but with yesterday’s Manifesto winner Clarcam he gives Gordon Eliiot a nice few thoughts over the summer.
Cue Card needed this race,expect him to be rested until Exeter in November,Johns Spirit ran a good sound race and Champagne Fever just falls short of this class.
4.05 Crabbie’s Topham Chase (Handicap) Grade 3,2m5f110yds,18 fences,5yo+
Always one of the more eventful races of the season and this years was no exception,thankfully the start went very well with no problems and hopefully the same will happen tomorrow at 4.15pm
After yesterday’s Fox Hunters which resulted in Sam Waley-Cohen getting booted out at the first fence,compensation was duly awarded as he steered Rajdhani Express to win which also paid a huge complement to Rocky Creek to whom he was seventh to in the Betbright Chase at Kempton back in February.
Held up early doors,Sam picked a good few off on the run to Bechers, over the Canal Turn we had a few fallers which also hampered a good few that completely lost there chances, thankfully we had no casualties and was nowhere near as bad as what Paddys Return did in 2001!
Coming back onto the course proper Fairy Rath who avoided getting taken out by loose horses at three out was leading but he had Rajdhani Express in his wing mirror, both lead at two out but coming to the elbow Sam Waley-Cohen took over and kept him up to his work to take the prize and ride his sixth win over the course,the most any jockey has ever won over the big greens in a race in which only ten completed
Rajdhani Express loved the fences and could be a National horse someday.
Fairy Rath ran a fine race,he was ninth in the Great Yorkshire and Night In Milan was third in that one,he runs tomorrow in the big one.
4.40 Doom Bar Sefton Novices’ Hurdle,Grade 1,3m110yds,13 flights,4yo+
A useful contest and lots of potential staying starts for the future,despite the defection of Minella Rocco it was a good looking event .
The bookmakers will have been pleased as was trainer Colin Tizzard who gained some compensation as Thistlecrack on his first go over this trip under Tom Scudamore,held up as Flintham and Parish Business made the most of the running, Thistlecrack turned in with the well fancied Alpha Des Obeaux for company ,although a few were in behind they were never going to challenge the front two and coming to the last Thistlecrack was getting on top as Alpha Des Obeaux like so many this week took a tumble at the last flight of hurdles leaving Thistlecrack in a clear lead.
He was ahead of Vyta Du Roc ,Our Kaempfer and Blaklion in the minor placings.
Colin Tizzard was very brave moving him up to three miles,his last run saw him fifth in the Imperial Cup,he could go over fences next season.
Vyta Du Roc should be much better back at 2m4f and still has plenty of potential.
5.15 Weatherbys Private Banking Champion Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race,Grade 2,2m1f,4-6yo
You very rarely get multiple bumper winners but the Ben Pauling trained Barters Hill made it four from four under David Bass, making all the running he saw them all off and found extra when needed,holding off the Willie Mullins trained Bellshill by 1.25 lengths,Potters Corenr who was subject to a little each way gamble after Ruby Walsh took over from Jack Doyle was third.
Barters Hill enjoys it up front,he could make up into a nice hurdler although it would be tempting to give him a few runs on the flat as he is in such good heart
Bellshill was tenth in the Festival Bumper but should be better when sent jumping,
As expected you will have to wait till next season to see how useful this race could be
Day two all done, tomorrow is the big one but I won’t be there,instead the comforts of home await
For the big race I’ve been very keen on Al Co but with Clare Balding missing the race to cover the two Boat Races which includes the first ever Womens Boat Race over the same course and distance,could it be ironic that on the same day that happens the sport sees a lady jockey in Nina Carberry become the first female jockey to win th Grand National?
Like many racing fans all I want is for all horses and jockeys to come home safe and sound
Whatever you back tomorrow Good Luck and enjoy the race