Monday,We start at Lingfield. Ryan Moore has started the season in superb fashion, there was a double on the day for Moore . The first leg was Battlement who went off 4/11 in the one mile maiden despite hanging slightly Moore got him home by a neck. The second leg was in the Fillies handicap where Moore galvanized Elusive Ellen inside the final furlong to win by a head. At Warwick there was a double for Jonjo O'Neill. The maiden Hurdle went to Beggars Cross who was a very impressive ten length winner. The 3 miles 1 furlong handicap hurdle went to Mustmeetalady who kept on to win by a length from Atlantic Gold. Jonjo has been coming back into form since February he is worth watching in the coming weeks. The other winner to note was Draytonian in the 2 mile handicap hurdle who was a comfortable winner by 3 lengths, this horse had looked a good prospect when winning at Wetherby in November. Draytonian is a lovely stamp of a horse , who will surely make a nice chaser for Philip Hobbs and Richard Johnson. At Wincanton it was quite enough although, I thought Touch Kick looked a nice prospect in the bumper for Paul Nicholls. Touch Kick drifted badly in the betting (4/1 - 8/1) , however he still won in the style of a nice horse.
Tuesday, we start at Fairyhouse. I must admit this was a very average card. The only race that really was of any interest was the opening maiden hurdle. The race went to Be The Hero, who inherited the race when the former David Pipe trained Seven Nation army crashed out. I find it hard to be dogmatic who would have won if both stood up, however Seven Nation Army and Be The Hero are of interest going forward. At Ludlow there was a decent card as always. There was a double for Dan Skelton in the shape of Red Tornado who won the Novice Hurdle, Toby Lerone followed up in the handicap chase as the Skelton team close in on a century of winners for the season. The rest of the day belonged to our members who were advised 1pt each way Unbuckled (3/1) sp 7/4 who won the mares novice hurdle by 6 lengths. Our members then had Tugboat advised 1 pt each way at (6/1) who stuck at it well to win. The day day was rounded off by a (0.5Pt each way double on Tugboat & Unbuckled) meaning a profit of 25.56 points on the day. The card at Newton Abbott was also an average one , Millicent Silver kept the Twiston -Davies band wagon rolling in the handicap chase winning by a neck. Pontefract had to pass an inspection , the Jamaican Flight stayers series kicked off . The first round went to Almost Gemini who ran on well given the ground its hard to know what the form is worth. The 1 mile 2 furlong handicap went to Master Of Finance for Mark Johnston and De Sousa who made all the running.
Wednesday,it was the calm before Aintree in truth. We start at Nottingham. The 5 furlongs conditions stakes went to Lexington Abbey who was brought through with a typical Jamie Spencer ride. I was impressed Lexington Abbey could go on to better things now. At Catterick the 1 mile 5 furlong handicap was turned into a rout by Mirsaale who won by 11 lengths for Keith Dalgleish. The handicapper is bound to have his say but this was a very good display. The earlier races on the card featured two other wide margin winners Baron Bolt who won by 6 lengths for Paul Cole and Falseur De Miracle who also won by 6 lengths for Micky Hammond. At Lingfield there was another double for Ryan Moore Across the Stars who won at 1/5 and Clotilde who won at 4/9. At Leopardstown it was student raceday. There was a treble for Aidan O'Brien who has his horses more forward then previous years. The opening race went to Claudioo Monteverdi for the O'Brien team by 4 and half lengths, I thought the Gurkha ran well in third. Somehow won the Fillies maiden keeping on well. The third leg of the O'Brien Treble was Ineffable who won the 1 mile 2 furlongs handicap easily. The easiest winner of the day was Jeremys Joy who won by 11 lengths. The feature race the Noblesse Stakes for Fillies went to Jim Bolger as Altesse got up in the last 50 yards to land the spoils.
Thursday, we will focus Aintree for day one of The Grand National meeting. The Manifesto novice chase went to Arzal who nipped around the tight turns at Aintree to win by 8 lengths . I thought L'ami Serge ran well in second, Sizing John was below par in third, Garde La Victoire fell again his record in grade one races is alarming. The Anniversary Juvenile hurdle saw a remarkable performance from Apple's Jade who won by 41 Lengths from Ivanovich Gorbatov who looks very ground dependent, Azzuri ran ok in third he could be a Ladbroke hurdle horse next Christmas . Apple's Jade was superb on the day however. The Aintree bowl saw Cue Card, Don Poli and Djakadam renew rivalry from the Cheltenham Gold Cup. The race was run at a good pace with, Don Poli mercifully ridden much more aggressively then at Cheltenham taking them along with Djakadam. The field turned for home, Cue Card was stalking Don Poli and Djakadam. Cue Card moved up and put the race to bed instantly seeing Don Poli off by 9 lengths with Djakadam fading badly back in third. Cue Card has had a brilliant season, this race left the impression that Cue Card would have given Don Cossack plenty to think about in the Cheltenham Gold Cup but for falling. Don Poli ran grand on a track that would not be ideal but it does back up the view that, Don Poli got a poor ride at Cheltenham.
The Aintree Hurdle went to Annie Power who slaughtered the field, it was 18 lengths back to My Tent Or Yours with another 9 lengths back to Nichols canyon who ran like he might have a physical issue. Annie Power is just different gear, I hope she gets to race in these type of races now taking on Faugheen next season. The Foxhunters saw On The Fringe do what he does win. On The Fringe is clearly a very high class horse winning by 8 lengths , On The Fringe may do the treble at Punchestown again. Dineur ran well in second and Mendip Express ran well at Aintree again in third. The Red Rum chase had a fitting winner in Katachenko for Donald McCain making most of the running , holding off Dandridge who ran superb in second by a half length. Viconte Du Noyer ran well in third he is one for the Punchestown notebook, Pearls Legend ran a cracker again fourth. The Mares bumper saw Augusta Kate really well backed (7/2 - 15/8) but she had to settle for second behind Kayf Grace who stuck at it really well to win by a half length. Shattered Love ran well in third.
Friday, We focus on Aintree for Day 2 of The Grand National meeting. The opening Grade 3 handicap hurdle went to Party Rock who had placed twice in this race before, he saw off Champagne at Tara and Starchitecht who ran well again but is finding winning hard. The Top Novice Hurdle saw Limini appear again Willie Mullins brilliant mare was all the rage but had to settle for third well beaten by her stablemate Petit Mouchoir who was second. The race was won by Buveur D'air won the race getting the better of Petit Mouchoir in a great finish. Buveur D'air had run very well in the supreme it was another boost for the form of the brilliant Altior who must be some horse.The Mildmay Novice chase saw Cheltenham winners Blaklion and Un Temps Pour Tout clash. The idea of those horses being the headline act was blown away by Richard Johnson and the Colin Tizzard trained Native River. I felt going into the race Johnson would be the ideal partner for Native River and so it proved, from the outset Johnson motivated Native River using his stamina to power to victory by 3 lengths from Henri Parry Morgan. What of Blaklion and Un Temps Pour Tout? I think Blaklion is at his best around Cheltenham, I also think Un Temps Pour Tout is below Grade 1 class over fences its that simple.
The Melling Chase saw the brilliant Vautour back in action , it was all going to plan until Vautour crashed out at the 9th fence. The first thing to say is thankfully Vautour and Ruby Walsh were both alright afterwards. The race went to Gods Own who deserved his turn , Gods Own saw off the wonderful Al Ferof by 2 lengths. Clarcam ran well for a long way. The post race was dominated by the departure of Vautour the £112,000 that Vautour left on the Aintree turf could cost Willie Mullins the UK trainers title but that is for another day. Vautour will apparently take on Cue Card and Don Cossack at Punchestown. Vautour the most wonderful of equine species-ism will once again have his chances compromised by racing right handed, I really hope he wins he is just a superb racehorse. I have one wish for next season that Vautour gets a campaign designed to show just how brilliant he is .The Topham was a rough race as always but it went to Eastlake and Barry Geraghty who saw off Fairy Rath and Third Intention. The race saw Blood Cotil crash out in the process fracturing Ruby Walsh's wrist, no doubt Ruby will move heaven and earth to be back for Punchestown. The Sefton Novice Hurdle was won by Ballyoptic who saw off Bellshill in a tremendous finish both horses gave everything, Bellshill will be of interest over 3 miles at Punchestown. Baoulet Delaroque and Gangster both ran awful races.The Grade 2 Champion Bumper went to Bacardys who turned around the Cheltenham form with Battleford and Ballyandy. I think these three horses are really good and will make very decent novice hurdlers.
Saturday, we focus on Aintree for Day 3 Of The Grand National meeting. The opening race was the 3 miles handicap hurdle it went to Ubak who had finished third to Diamond King at Cheltenham. Ubak did it well seeing off If In Doubt by a length and a half, If In Doubt ran an odd race dropping himself out and charging back into late on . Silsol ran well in third , Squouateur ran better then he did at Cheltenham and also finds himself in the Punchestown notebook. The Mersey Novice Hurdle went to the brilliant Yorkhill who did everything wrong pulling Paul Townend all over the place. Yorkhill still had too many guns for the rest he has to go over fences he can not jump like this and win a Champion hurdle. Le Prezien ran well in second and will make a nice novice chaser. The Maghull Novice Chase was Douvan time. I just love Douvan he is the best horse in training for my money. Douvan has it all, pace, class and a lovely jump in him. I think he might be the best I have ever seen. Douvan won this by 14 lengths and it could have been 400. I hope Douvan goes for the Gold Cup next year, I think he has it in him . The Liverpool stayers hurdle went to Thistlecrack who is going from strength to strength , Thistlecrack battered this field by 7 lengths , it could have been much more. Thistlecrack will go for the Gold cup next year few would bet against him turning into a top chaser. Shaneshill was smartly placed by Willie Mullins to pick up £31K in prizemoney 3 miles looks his bag to be fair. The Betfred Handicap chase is a race nobody ever remembers because it is the race before the National , in recent times Dont Push it won it as did, Saint Are. This years renewal went to Maggio who won by 12 lengths from the wonderfully consistent Virak with Al Co third. I thought Thomas Brown ran a nice race in fourth.
The main event itself The Grand National the race that has fires so many race fans interest , I still love it and always will. The first thing to say the race was a triumph for our sport as all horses and jockeys returned safe. The race itself went to Rule The World for Mouse Morris and the ice cool nineteen year old David Mullins. It was a tremendous contest with The Last Samuri and Many Clouds taking the field along both jumping for fun. The race built to its climax with The Last Samuri , thirteen year old Vics Canvas and Rule the World fighting it out. Rule the world made his move at the elboew and sprinted away to win by 6 lengths, The Last Samuri was carried out on his shield in second. Vics Canvas gave his all in third his run all the more remarkable by the fact he all but fell at Beechers the first time a miracle recovery from Robbie Dunne. Gilgamboa ran a blinder in fourth, Goonyella stayed on from somewhere in Manchester to get fifth. A remarkable achievment for Ireland who had five of the first six horses home. I have said it before there is no better trainer then Mouse Morris at getting a horse ready for a big day. The tragedy Mouse Morris suffered losing his son Christopher this time last year can never be erased or replaced by big race triumphs , however it is a measure of Morris and his ability.A remarkable triumph considering Rule The World broke his pelvis twice, it continued a phenomenal few weeks for Gigginstown Stud who put much into our sport . A Cheltenham Gold Cup, an Aintree Grand National and an Irish Grand National all captured in the last month tremendous stuff. There was a race after the Grand National , it went to young David Mullins who won on Ivan Grozny who bolted up. I must admit I found this a very pleasing result, I flagged this horse up in our post Cheltenham podcast. I had a 2 point each way bet at 16/1 it was a perfect way to end the Aintree festival 2016. I thought Boite ran a good race in fourth and is one to watch.
Sunday, Tramore was abandoned. We start at Leopardstown which hosted flat classic trials!! Black Sea took the 2,00 Guineas trial winning by a head from Stenographer and True Solitaire who dead heated for second. Jet Setting took the 1,00 Guineas trial , she made all and looked ready to run for her life, I reckon today was her cup final. There was lots of chat about the ride Ryan Moore gave Alice Springs. I would not dream of having a bet in these races, I do not know what people expect. The Ballysax a Derby trial was won by Harzand in good style for Dermot Weld and Pat Smullen. I thought Harzand looked a St Ledger horse and that is what Pat Smullen said after the race also, we can't both be wrong. In the Uk ,Ffos las was average enough. There was one nice performance to take out of it though Cloudy Copper impressed me in the handicap chase for Jonjo O'Neill, who picked up another winner at Market Rasen with Dream Berry who tanked through the race but clung on. I reckon Dream Berry has a lot of ability. The highlight at Market Rasen was a treble for Doctor Richard Newland with Young Dillon, Discay and Express Du Berlais.