A very testing day for human and equines alike at Aintree with rain,cold and wind being thrown at all who attended for a top class afternoon of jump racing, Before racing began the course fell silent before the first race in tribute to 12yo girl Ava Green who sadly lost her life last week in Liverpool, May the angels be looking after her and her family in these tragic circumstances
Leopardess Leaps For Becher Glory
In a finish which was very reminiscent of tbe 1973 Grand National although on this occasion the one who was in front as they came down to the elbow actually held on, Snow Leopardess put in a beautiful round of jumping over these famous green spruce monsters to land the Becher Chase in an pulsating finish that befitted a race of this nature.
From the release of the orange knicker elastic out in the country there was plenty of pace on in testing conditions and she took the lead just after taking the Chair and Water Jumps, from that the mare sailed over the fences including a huge leap at Becher’s, her lead was being reduced quite markedly as Hill Sixteen dug in under Craig Nichol despite being out of the handicap by a few pounds but Aidan Coleman kept Snow Leopardess going all out as the line came up in time.
This was a performance that heated up the crowd who braved the elements to appreciate a high quality mare, wether or not she comes back in April is up for debate, Charlie Longsdon is certainly tempted although the owner isn’t as keen but she will have an entry and could get a nice weight but in all probability it might not happen.
Hill Sixteen ran a sound race in defeat and stayed on right towards the and looks more than likely to be here in April for the big one.
Andrews On Cloud Nine
Arguably the most impressive performance of the day came in the Grade 2 Many Clouds Chase as Bridget Andrews gained one of her biggest career wins as she had a dream ride on the Dan Skelton trained Protektorat who oozed class in the Aintree mud to land the spoils.
As expected the pace was solid from the outset with the 11yo warriors Native River and Wishing And Hoping trading blows like two boxers in the ring but Protektorat sat off it early and made up the ground before passing Native River after the cross fence from which it was a case of how far?
That turned out to be around twenty five lengths from the former Gold Cup winner who ran his heart out but had no match for the youth of today, Protektorat was outpaced early in last months Paddy Power at Cheltenham but ran on to show that three miles might be better for him and that showed to be bang on, The Gold Cup has been touted although now he is twice a winner here in Graded company possibly the Bowl over course and distance in April might be a more attainable target.
Dual Grand National winner Tiger Roll was pulled up after the first circuit and was never really travelling, he got a warm round of applause from the crowd to show their love and respect, he has nothing to prove now but wether or not his airline owning owner decides to keep running him is for his concience to decide.
Sea Sessions Shines Superbly
Irish trainer Ross O’Sullivan gained his first ever Aintree success in the training ranks with Sea Sessions who overcame choppy waters to arrive in winners berth number one at the winners enclosure dock as she landed the Juvenile Hurdke for Fillies.
On what looked a reasonable if not spectacular race on paper she came down the near side under Jonathan Burke and ran away from runner up Calvados at the end for an Irish 1-2-3-4, gaining some good black type in the process Sea Sessions will probably head to Leopardstown over Christmas unless connections decide to find a more suitable opportunity elsewhere.
Houghton Glory For Zambella
Zambella gave Nigel Twiston-Davies plenty to smile about as she put in a power packed punch of a performance to bag the rerouted Houghton Mares’ Chase which like the 2019 running was rerouted down the M6 from Carlisle after being abandoned last Sunday.
Making all under Daryl Jacob she jumped like a buck here to easily beat Annie Mc by just over five lengths, a country mile back in third was favourite Elimay who never seemed happy and struggled in the conditions, she can be forgiven for this.
The winner will almost certainly be aimed at the big mares event at the festival in March, she is a very likeable type and looks to have more big days ahead of her and it would be no surprise to see her try her luck in open company during the rest of the season unless she sticks to the mares races.
This was arguably one of the toughest afternoons weather wise at Aintree, but the jockeys were very sensible especially in the fourth race a 2m4f handicap chase when only two finished and five horses all pulled up before the last after doing the right thing instead of continuing with their tired mounts.
Performance day certainly belongs to Snow Leopardess who jumped for fun over the big fences and was the first athlete either human or equine since Carrie Ford to be a mum winning a race over the National course.
Seeing Tiger Roll pulled up at the back in the Many Clouds Chase was a sad sight to see, he may have pulled the rabbit out of the hat over the years but surely now it is time to hang up the hat for the final time, he may yet prove everyone wrong but he deserves to put his hooves up and enjoy the rest of his days away from the racecourse, the crowd down below showed their appreciation in what was a touching moment of love and respect.