Monday the week started with the end of an era. Cause Of Causes, the three-time Cheltenham Festival-winning ten-year-old, has been retired, owner JP McManus' racing manager Frank Berry has reported. The Gordon Elliott-trained horse won the 2015 National Hunt Chase, 2016 Kim Muir and 2017 cross-country race at the festival. On the same day, we lost Silviniaco Conti. Paul Nicholls said the following "I am really upset to report that Silviniaco Conti has died following an accident while team chasing on Sunday.He was a brilliant horse with great scope who won seven Grade 1 chases for us including the King George VI in successive years and also six Grade 2 chases.Conti was a classy chaser who was at the top for six years and took over the mantle as stable star following the retirements of Kauto Star, Denman, Master Minded and Big Bucks.He won over £1.152 million in prize money for his owners Chris Giles and Sullivan Bloodstock before enjoying his new life in retirement with Charlotte Alexander near Stow in the Wold over the past year.The initial diagnosis at the vets on Monday suggested he would be fine but unfortunately, he took a turn for the worse and died early this afternoon."
On the track at Kempton over the jumps. David Pipe landed an old style Pond House gamble with Timeforben fittingly in the David Johnson silks. Timeforben was backed in from (25/1 - 12/1). At Wincanton, there was a double for the resurgent Venetia Williams with Snuff Box and Saroque. A meeting at Wincanton would not be complete without a double for Paul Nicholls it came with The Last But One and Choix Des Armes. At Ludlow, Venetia Williams was at the double again on the day with Shalakar and Uhlan Bute. The one mile seven furlongs handicap went to I'm a Game Changer for Philip Hobbs. It was good news for us. I'm a Game Changer was advised to our members' 2pts win at 11/4. At Wolverhampton, Oyster Card was on target for Silvestre De Sousa.
Tuesday, we start at Hereford. The ground was very testing. There was a treble for Venetia Williams with Geordie B, Huff and Puff and One Style. At Wolverhampton, trainer Kevin Ryan was on target with Jungle Room. At Dundalk, Could It Be Love landed some nice bets (10/1 -4/1). Could It Be Love thrashed the field by six lengths and could have won by a further margin in my opinion? Joey Sasa sent the odds-on backers happy when bolting up in the finale for Noel Meade.
Wednesday, we start at Lingfield. There was a double for trainer Jonathan Portman with Golden Iris and Choral Music. It was two wins in less than a week for Cayuga who held off Smiley Bagel in the finale by a short head. Smiley Bagel was advised to our members' 1pt each way at 9/2. At Dundalk, there was a lovely family victory for Thomas and Rory Cleary as Night Wailing took the two-mile handicap. Rory Cleary is a massive part of our horses' lives, so it was great to see the family win. Our members had Colla Pier advised to our members' 1pt each way at 9/1 placed in the same contest. It completed a decent day for our members as they also had, Smiley Bagel 520 Lingfield 9/2 & Colla Pier 700 Dundalk 9/1advised in a 0.5pt each way double both placed. The Dundalk card also saw a double for Joseph O'Brien with Ming and Rockfish. At Market Rasen, there was a double for Richard Johnson with Thedrinkymeister and Dorking Boy. At Kempton, there was a double for John Gosden with Fernnaan and Nordic Passage.
Thursday, day one of Aintree. The Manifesto novice chase, it went in good style to Finians Oscar for Colin Tizzard. Finians Oscar was bouncing back from an indifferent spell and will go on to Punchestown. The Class 1 juvenile hurdle saw a clash between stablemates Apples Shakira and We Have A Dream. It turned out to be a one-horse race as We Have A Dream bolted up by seven lengths from Gumball with Apples Shakira back in third a further ten lengths back in third. The Betway Bowl saw the only genuine star horse on the card as Might Bite stepped back into the ring. Bristol De Mai took them along at an honest gallop. In truth Might Bite could be called the winner a long way out. Might Bite came home a seven-length winner from Bristol De Mai. Clan Des Obeaux ran well in third. The Aintree hurdle was the feature race. Supasundae went off the market leader, he never really looked like winning. The race went to a horse who has been called everything under the sun L'ami Serge, who made it a treble on the day for Nicky Henderson and a Grade 1 treble at that.
The Foxhunters over the national fences went to Balnaslow who was going one better than last year when he finished second.It was a first win over the National fences for Derek O'Connor. The Red Rum chase is always a cavalry charge. Gino Trail set a strong gallop, however, Bentelimar picked up the pieces for an impressive win. There were admirable runs from Thienval and Doiforthevillage who were second and fourth. Doitforthevillage was advised to our members' 1pt each way at 10/1. The Grade 2 bumper for Mares went to Getaway Katie Mai under Jamie Codd. Getaway Katie Mai was flat out the whole way ultimately winning by one and a quarter lengths. Jamie Codd got seventeen days ban for excessive use of the whip.
At Taunton, there was a double for Paul Nicholls with Risk and Roll and Blu Cavalier. The Venetia Williams golden run continued as Lickime was on target. At Southwell, there was an impressive winner for Godolphin with Victory Wave. There was a double for trainer Roger Fell and jockey Benjamin Sanderson with Imagine If and Zylan. At Chelmsford, Loyalty bolted up by six lengths in the seven-furlong handicap. At Limerick, Kemboy took the Grade 3 Novice chase for Willie Mullins.
Friday, we start at Aintree. The opening race went to red-hot trainer Tom Lacey as Jester Jet got the job done in the Alder Hey handicap hurdle. The grade 1 Betway novice hurdle went in very impressive style to Lalor for Kayley Woollacoot who lost her husband in tragic circumstances earlier this year. Lalor was good here, readily seeing off Vision De Flos who was well backed running as well as the money anticipated. The Grade 1 Mildmay Novice chase saw a win for Nicky Henderson with Terrefort seeing off the admirable Ms. Parfois by three and three parts of a length. Elegant Escape advised to our members' 1pt each way at 11/2 placed. The Grade one Melling chase produced an epic finish. It went the way of Politologue with no Altior in his way Politologue is right up with the best around. Politologue clearly does not like Cheltenham and was far more at home here. Politologue traveled superbly through the race to see off Min by a neck. It was a poignant victory as twenty years ago nearly to day owner John Hales lost his dashing grey One Man in this very race. Politologue once again showed when Nicholls has the horses he is very much a force.
The Topham was up next always a great spectacle. It went for the second year in a row in the pillar to post fashion to Ultragold who loves it around here. Ultragold ran out out a three-length winner for Colin Tizzard and Harry Cobden. The second home was Shanahan's Turn also saddled by Colin Tizzard. Ultragold advised to our members' 1pt each way at 16/1.The Grade 1 Sefton Novice hurdle went to Santini who had no real luck at Cheltenham. It gave Nicky Henderson a grade 1 double on the day. This race might work out well as I like the look of the placed horses Roksana and Tower Bridge. The concluding bumper saw a turn up as Portrush Ted ran out a good winner. Danny Kirwan drifted alarmingly in the betting and is surely better then he showed here.
At Sedgefield, there was a double for trainer Micky Hammond with Bulkov and Just Bobby. At Kempton, there was a double for Oisin Murphy on board Puds and Airshow. At Naas, it was the flat on the very heavy ground. It was a day of doubles, Noel Meade was first up with a double as Dadoozart and Curley Bill obliged. Colin Keane had a double on Dadoozart and Psychedelic Funk. The final double was for Aidan O'Brien and Ryan Moore with Capri and Hunting Horn.
Saturday, we start at Aintree for Grand National day. The Grand national itself would capture perfectly racings hottest rivalry as Gordon Elliott and Willie Mullins slugged it out for the National hunt racings most coveted prize. The race went to Tiger Roll a three-time Cheltenham festival winner with a heart which knows no depth. Tiger Roll is just over sixteen hands high but you would never know it. Tiger Roll traveled powerfully through the race and looked going to the elbow he was going to win by 10 lengths. Tiger Roll started to tire and with David Mullins in full cry on Pleasant Company, it got very tight. A, head the margin at the line. It was Gordon Elliott first and Willie Mullins second. It was a green wash for the places as Ireland had the 1-2-3-4. Bless the Wings was third for Gordon Elliott with Anibale Fly up for fourth. It was a first Grand National for Davy Russell at 38 years of age richly deserved as well. Davy Russell is an example to all. The man was fired on new years eve 2013 by Michael O'Leary and Giggnstown. There would have been plenty of men who would have thrown the toys out of the pram. Davy Russel got his head down and worked, that work paid off yesterday in the most spectacular fashion. As for Gordon Elliott, what can one say the man is a genius. I really feel we are living in the time of a man who is going to change the face of the sport.
The opening handicap hurdle went to David Pipe with Mr. Big Shot. The Grade 1 Mersey Novice hurdle went to Black Op who was a good second to Samcro at Cheltenham. Black Op fought back bravely to win from Lostintranslation who ran a cracker in second. The grade 1 Maghull novice chase saw Petit Mouchoir go off favorite he once again behaved badly before the race. The race went in good style to Diego Du Charmil. I think that Diego Du Charmil could have a very decent season next season he is a very nice horse in my opinion. The Betway handicap chase over Three miles is always a fiercely run as well as a competitive race. This year was no exception as Thomas Patrick made every yard of the running under Richard Johnson. On Tour who loves Aintree ran a cracker in second. Thomas Patrick was advised to our members' 1pt each way at 9/2. The Ryanair Stayers hurdle was up next it went fittingly to Identity Thief for the sponsors. Identity Thief traveled strongly to the race, picking up the wonderfully consistent Wholestone who was second with Sam Spinner well beaten in third. The finale on the card went to Havana Beat for local jockey James Nixon.
Away from Aintree, there were the classic trials at Leopardstown. Two of the trials went to Aidan O'Brien. The Ballysax a recognized Derby trial went to Nelson who likes soft ground. I think The Pentagon will be far better on nicer ground. The 2,000 Guineas trial went to Gustav Klimt he looks the real deal. The 1,000 Guineas trial went the way of Who's Steph for Ger Lyons and Colin Keane. At Chepstow, Tom Lacey continued his good run as Kimberlite Candy won. There was a double for trainer Ali Stronge with Drewmaine Legend and Ardmayle. At Newcastle, there were doubles for Lucinda Russell and Rebecca Menzies. The Russell double was Rivabodiva and Grand Morning. The Menzies double was Pain Au Chocolat and Black Kettle. At Lingfield, Silent Attack was on target for Godolphin. At Wolverhampton, Godolphin hit the target again on the day with Ocean Of Love.
Sunday, we start at Newcastle over the jumps. The fine run of Lucinda Russell continued with a treble the horses were Orioninverness, Behindthelines and Chasseur De Tete. There was also a double for Nick and Lucy Alexander with Gold Opera and Bertalus. At Plumpton, there was a double for Chris Gordon with Rothman and Baddesley Knight. At Ffos Las, there was a double for jockey Robert Dunne on board Lickpenny Larry and Solomn Grundy. The feature race went to Ballycross for Nigel and Sam Twiston - Davies. Horatio Hornblower was advised 1pt each way at 7/2 to our members and was third. At Tramore, Just Get Cracking continued his love affair with Tramore by winning again. Just Get Cracking was advised 1 pt each way at 7/1 to our members. It completed a good day as the members also had a 0.5pt each way double with Horatio Hornblower. There was no resting on Grand National laurels for Davy Russell who had a double on board Decision Time and Monatomic. There was a flat meeting at Cork on what I can only describe as atrocious ground. The opening maiden was won by 21 lengths!! and the one-mile handicap by 33 lengths.It's just not good enough in my view. The concluding race saw an old favorite An Saighduir win for the Slattery family.