New year,new sponsor but still the same races as the national hunt carnival rolled into Merseyside for the first of three excellent days of jump racing at Aintree.
Four Grade One races complemented by a fiercely competitive two mile handicap chase,a Grade Two Mares’ Bumper and of course the feature race over the big green monsters that make up the Grand National course which being Thursday is the Foxhunters over 2m5f.
The main highlight of the day was without doubt Lizzie Kelly gaining some well deserved compensation on Tea For Two as she edged out the much loved Cue Card by a neck to land the Grade One Betway Bowl Chase over 3m1f, switched off early Lizzie picked the field off one at a time and kept him working right to the line, this was his first win going left,Hopefully we should see him next season at Haydock in the Betfair Chase where hopefully he will meet up with the usual protagonists, Cue Card was gallant in defeat,Smad Place was back in third.
Silviniaco Conti finished down the pack and has now been retired.
JP McManus landed a double up as his two odds on shots both duly obliged as expected, first up Triumph Hurdle winner Defi Du Seuil put in a workmanlike shift to land the Doombar 4yo hurdle,probably not as flashy as his Cheltenham wins he easily saw off Divin Bere and now goes for his summer holidays before being aimed no doubt at the Champion Hurdle unless connections fancy a go at chasing with him.
Buveur D’Air supplemented his Champion Hurdle success by following up in the Betway Aintree Hurdle over 2m4f, stamina doubts were never brought into question here and he led home a 1-2 for JP as Mytentoryours stayed on for second place past regular North West visitor and former winner of this race The New One, Buveur D’Air had been chasing until two starts back when Nicky Henderson decided to go back hurdling and that has proved to be the best decision of the season.
In the opener,the Manifesto Novices’ Chase over 2m4f, Flying Angel who had his chance at Cheltenham blown by a fallen horse bringing him to a virtual halt got some karma in return but had to shake off the attentions of Cloudy Dream which he did by just over a length, this looked a useful enough race and while a few didn’t show their true its well worth keeping an eye on it for next season.
The feature race over the National fences saw the amateur riders do battle in the Foxhunters’ and all eyes were on previous dual scorer of this race On The Fringe but at the age of 12 it looked like Old Father Time has caught up with him and he was pulled up, at the business end though Dineur last years runner up went one better as he battled on up the run in taking full use of a mistake by long time leader Darwins Fox which relegated him back to fifth spot.
Dineur came into the race off the back of a recent second at Chepstow and has good course form to his name but the real star of the race for many was the 15yo Big Fella Thanks who has ran many good races over these fences without actually winning,third this afternoon he still retains all his enthusiasm for the game.
Katie Walsh took a nasty fall at The Chair and had to be taken to hospital for a check on her arm.
After not quite getting on top in the first race trainer Malcolm Jefferson landed a big coup for northern jumping as Double W’s bounced back from a poor Cheltenham run to land the 2m Red Rum Chase in a thrilling finish from Theinval, Double W’s clearly appreciated the drop back down in trip and won here on his highest winning mark of 139, he looks to have plenty more to offer still.
In the finale, The Nickell Coin Mares’ Bumper we had the battle of the roses, not as in Lancashire v Yorkshire at cricket but Dame Rose showing all heart to fend off Oscar Rose, this is another race that will throw up plenty of nice winners next season.
So plenty of good racing this afternoon,class act of the day was Buveur D’Air without doubt and he will aimed at next years Champion Hurdle no doubt.
Tea For Two was the main story of the day,breaking his left handed duck and has to be taken seriously as a Gold Cup contender.
Ladies Day tomorrow,a real sight for sure!
Till then it’s goodbye.