Nicky Henderson probably paid for many of the locals summer holidays at Aintree on the opening day of the Randox Health Grand National meeting as he saddled a rapid fire hat-trick of winners on a cloudy,slightly chilly in places but thankfully not a rainy afternoon on Merseyside.
The feature winner on the day came in the Grade 1 Aintree Hurdle with L’Ami Serge bouncing back from a below par performance at Cheltenham under Daryl Jacob to overpower short priced favourite Supasundae and easily bag the prize, having mixed hurdles and fences this term L’Ami Serge looks possibly set to head over to Paris and take in the French Champion Hurdle that he won last year, this win also paid a nice complement to Grand National entry Warriors Tale who finished ahead of L’Ami Serge in the Great Yorkshire at Doncaster.
Henderson’s first winner of the three came in the 4yo Hurdle with the very impressive We Have A Dream making it four on the bounce since coming over from France as he ran away with an impressive front running performance putting a good few lengths between him and Gumball, plenty options will be available to him next season but a novice chasing campaign could be in mind and he looks a chasing type in the making.
Far way the classiest of the three winners came with Might Bite who showed no ill effects after his hard race in the Gold Cup last month, tracking long time leader and eventual runner up Bristol De Mai he led after the penultimate fence and quickly put the race to bed, thoughts of the £1,000,000 Triple Crown next season have been talked about and on this showing if he handles the potential Haydock mud then we could be in for a season to remember in the staying chase division.
First race of the day was the Grade 1 Big Buck’s Celebration Manifesto Novices’ Chase and what looked an ok but not spectacular looking contest saw a huge bounce back to form for Finian’s Oscar after a very poor showing at the Cheltenham Festival, last seasons Mersey Novices’ Hurdle winner on Grand National Day he showed he likes this place to land the spoils despite having to work hard to overpower the mare Rene’s Girl on the run in, he may have been hit and miss over the big obstacles but the way he galvanised himself after the last showed that he might be worth having a go over 3m in time.
Aintree’s big green fences came to the fore for the amateur riders in the Foxhunters’ Chase over 2m5f it’s a race that requires good jumping ability,speed,stamina and heart to pick up the £22586 owners prize money.
In the end the same winning system as last year came to the fore, Balnaslow who was the runner up last year to Dineur who himself was a runner up the year before took the scalp of some quality horses which was its usual standard of quality horses and riders who love the challenge that these fences bring, given a quiet patient ride up the inside by Derek O’Connor he made his move on the run to the elbow then began to edge ahead of Bear’s Affair, more of a spring horse now he should be off to Punchestown after this to defend his title from last year.
Sadly Lilbitluso took a nasty fall at the Canal Turn and sadly was fatally injured, Our condolences to all connected.
For many one of the fastest and hair raising races is the Red Rum Chase over 2m on the Mildmay course which brought about a victory for Bentelimar who came bounced back from a disappointing show at Kempton last time to fend off the challenge of Theinval by just over three lengths in a typical Aintree thrilling finish.
Finally the Grade 2 Mares’ Bumper sent punters home happy as the jolly duly obliged in the lucky last as Getaway Katie Mai under Jamie Codd had to put in the double overtime to get the better over long time leader Duhallow Gesture who eventually came third and the staying on Midnightreferendum who was second, Plenty to like about this mare who was runner up behind the Festival bumper winner back at Leopardstown in February and she will make a nice hurdler next season.
So a useful afternoons racing in Merseyside, it may have been a bit chilly seeing as it’s done nothing but rain and be cold around the north west since September, the weather surely must make a change in the right direction soon!
Friday is Ladies Day and no doubt that despite the forecast not being that good the Liverpool ladies will come out in force for their big day out of the year!