Aintree Day 1 Review

Image result for might bite aintree

(Might Bite, ridden by Nico de Boinville, on the way to winning the Betway Bowl Chase on day one of the 2018 Randox Health Grand National Festival at Aintree Racecourse Picture by Tim Goode/PA)

Day 1 of the Aintree Grand National Festival brought us the classic ups and downs associated with the course. Some results were expected, others weren’t as much. It’s been a day of real excitement, whether you backed a winner or not. Unfortunately, as good as the racing was today, it was brutally stunted by the loss of J J O’Shea’s Lilbitluso in the Foxhunter’s Chase. The 10 year old fell at the Canal Turn when going well and he was fatally injured. He will be sorely missed by all involved with him.

The first race of the day was the Big Buck’s Celebration Manifesto Novices’ Chase (Grade 1) over 2m 3Fs. It was won by none other than Finian’s Oscar (5/2) who promised such big things last year but lost his way over Christmas time. He beat Rene’s Girl (8/1), trained by Dan Skelton, by 2 lengths. Rene’s Girl was 2 lengths up going over the last but Finian’s Oscar clawed the mare back in the last 75 yards. The 33/1 shot Calino D’airy finished a further 3 lengths back in 3rd after passing the long-time leader, Cyrname (2/1F) who eventually finished 4th. Brain Power, a 5/2 shot, for Nicky Henderson exited the race at the 8th fence after a few dodgy jumps at the 2nd and 6th.

The second race was the Doom bar Anniversary 4-Y-O Juvenile Hurdle (Grade 1) over 2M. The eagerly anticipated dual between two of Nicky’s star Juveniles, Apple’s Shakira and We Have A Dream set the stage. The end curtain closed with We Have A Dream (2/1) on top by 7 lengths. He comprehensively swept all his rivals aside and was very impressive despite being up with the pace for most of the race. Gumball (20/1), trained by Philip Hobbs and ridden by Richard Johnstone, finished an unexpected 2nd, 10 lengths ahead of Henderson’s other runner, Apple’s Shakira (13/8F). The filly, Apple’s Shakira, ran freely for most of the race and was very much found wanting at the business end.

The third race was the infamous Betway Bowl Chase (Grade 1) over 3M. As expected, Might Bite, the fantastic 9 year old trained by Nicky Henderson and ridden by Nico De Boinville, won decisively from Bristol De Mai who definitely looked much better than he did at Kempton at Christmas time. There is no doubt that Might Bite was the best horse in the field today and he showed that on the track. Clan Des Obeaux (8/1) finished 3rd. Unluckily enough, the popular ‘red horse’ (especially in Liverpool), Definitly Red, unseated Danny Cook after an awful blunder. We were all cheering Danny on as he tried to cling onto the side of his mount, but gravity took control and they parted company.

The fourth race was the Betway Aintree Hurdle (Grade 1). The favourite was Supasundae, the Stayers’ Hurdle 2nd from Cheltenham. He was the 11/10 favourite to win today but a certain ‘quirky’ little horse ended being the one obstacle he couldn’t get past. L’ami Serge (5/1), one of Nicky Henderson’s best ‘second place horses’, came flying down the near side after the last and was driven 3 lengths ahead of Supasundae. Clyne (25/1) was 3rd and did very well to finish there as he was taken along by the strong front runner, Diakail, who eventually finished 6th of 7. This race was an interesting one as the pace was frenetic and that didn’t suit a lot of them. It was very good to see L’ami Serge get his head in front though after 3 placings in top class races of late.

The fifth race was the Randox Health Foxhunters’ Chase over one circuit of the National Fences. Any race over the big fences is virtually impossible to call as anything could happen. The 7/2F Grand Vision, who usually jumps like a stag, came down at the same fence as the ill-fated Lilbitluso. However, the winner was Belnaslow (11/2) who was runner up in the race last year. He pulled 2 and a half lengths clear of Bear’s Affair (20/1) who was in front at the Elbow. Greensalt (66/1) was a good 3rd and looked to have a chance of winning at the elbow but faded once he was passed. Other notable finishers were On The Fringe (8/1) who was 5th and Unioniste (8/1) who was 7th.

The sixth race was the Red Rum Handicap Chase over 2M. The favourite was King’s Socks but he was pretty much out of the race after 5 out. The eventual winner was Bentelimar (10/1) who was coming back to the 2nd placed horse, Theinval (5/1), but kept on bravely to be in front by 3 lengths at the  line. Theinval was definitely coming for the leader in the dying strides but made very little impression overall. Gino Trail finished 3rd (18 lengths behind Theinval) after having lead for a long time.

The seventh, and final race was the Goffs Nickel Coin Mares’ Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race (Grade 2) over 2M. The winner was the favourite, Getaway Katie Mai who was second to the Cheltenham Heroine, Relegate, in February. She didn’t go un-pestered though, Midnightreferendum (25/1) made sure she was kept up to her work all the way to the line. In the end, the favourite was always going to be on top, but she was pushed. 3rd place was Duhallow Gesture (10/1) for Anthony Honeyball. Disappointments in this race included: Dissavril (last) and Posh Trish (10th of 20).

Overall, today’s racing was very engaging. Might Bite continued to be impressive, We Have A Dream threw his name into the hat of the top Juveniles, L’ami Serge had his day in the sun at last and Guy Disney, the war veteran, made history by being the first amputee to ride over the National fences. Guy finished 12th on Gallery Exhibition.

Lets hope for another day of excellence tomorrow.

-Lois Davis

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