By Samantha (13/4/18)
Today hasn’t been a good day for favourite backers. Only two favourites came in and all others were over 10/1. There were some emotional and spellbinding performances and some huge stars were on show.
The Alder Hey Children’s Charity handicap Hurdle kicked off proceedings on this drizzly Friday afternoon. Who Dares Wins was the favourite but couldn’t get to Jester Jet up the run-in. The mare won for Tom Lacey and Robbie Dunne, who has a good chance on board Gas Line Boy in the Grand National. She was second in a Listed race the time before this. She’d always won over further before this and was a 20/1 shot.
Global Citizen was the favourite for the Top Novices’ Hurdle but he ran very keenly in the race because it was run quite slowly. He could only manage sixth about twelve and a half lengths behind the winner Lalor. He was a very emotional winner for connections as he was trained by Richard Woollacott who passed away in January. Now a bit of a course specialist, Lalor is now trained by Kayley Woollacott, Richard’s wife. The gelding won a bumper on this card last year and it was Richard’s biggest winner as a trainer. There were some very emotional scenes in the winner’s enclosure after the race. Speaking to the media, Kayley said, “It’s a very emotional day, but obviously we had a bit of help from up there.”
The next race was a thriller. Terrefort and Ms Parfois battled it out from two out with the gelding just prevailing after the last to win by three and a quarter lengths. Nicky Henderson’s flashy grey was the first of the two favourites to win. It continued a great meeting for Daryl Jacob and the champion trainer. The ground was very testing which could suggest that some time in the future, Terrefort could be a Gold Cup horse but Ms Parfois would benefit from a longer trip as this was on the short side for her.
The next race was the big race of the day, the Melling Chase. Willie Mullins’ Min ‘The Merciless’ was short-priced favourite at 11/10. Ryanair winner Balko Des Flos was his nearest market rival at 2/1. The Gigginstown owned gelding went off quickly with the other runners spread out behind. At three out, Politilogue took over the lead under a cool Sam Twiston-Davies. Min was up next to him trying to challenge but he jumped right at the second last but carried on and the pair was in the air together over the last. Politologue out-stayed Min up the run-in to win by a neck, ending a quiet spell for Paul Nicholls. His win was twenty years after One man, in the same colours, fatally fell in this race and was put down.
Like most other races over the national fences, the Topham Chase of 2018 was full of thrills- and spills. It took a while for Robbie Supple to get them on their way after a false start as many of the horses were keen to get on with their task at hand. When they were allowed to go, the tapes didn’t rise fully and lots of the jockeys had to duck out of the way so they didn’t get caught. Flying Eagle got a bit distracted by this and put in an awful jump at the first, unseating his rider. O O Seven was a big fancy of many but failed to finish after he was pulled up before the tenth as if something was wrong. Bigbadjohn and Bouvreuil were both near the head of the market but the both failed to complete. In the end, Ultragold won the race again for the second year in a row under ice-cool Harry Cobden and to the jubilation of his owners. The horse seemed to have the time of his life jumping the big fences.
Santini was the second favourite of the day to win their race. He contested the Sefton Novices Hurdle and he travelled very well throughout under Nico De Boinville. He seemed to live up to his potential in this race and it was yet another Grade One for the Seven Barrows maestro Nicky Henderson.
The winner of the last was a 25/1 shot called Portrush Ted, owned by the McNeill family and ridden by Gavin Sheehan for Warren Greatrex. The six year old stayed on well up the run-in and won by a comfortable three and a quarter lengths. Danny Kirwan was the 11/4 favourite but ended up finishing seventeenth.