Grand National Chat and Aintree Bits and Pieces

63 go forward for Saturday’s £1-million Randox Health Grand National at Aintree, with Katie Walsh keen on Baie Des Iles

Dateline Monday, 10 April 2018

Ante-post joint-favourite Blaklion headlines 63 entries eager to take part in Aintree’s £1-million Randox Health Grand National at 5.15pm on Saturday, April 14 – the 171st running – following today’s five-day confirmation stage.

Staged over four and a quarter miles and 30 fences, the Randox Health Grand National is the world’s greatest and richest chase – the culmination of Aintree’s three-day Randox Health Grand National Festival.

Katie Walsh is keenly anticipating partnering Baie Des Iles (10st 7lb, 33/1 with Betway, official betting partner of the Randox Health Grand National Festival) in Saturday’s £1-million contest.

Trained by Walsh’s husband Ross O’Sullivan in Ireland, the seven-year-old grey mare was a fine third behind subsequent Irish Grand National fourth Folsom Blue in a Grand National trial at Punchestown in February.

Amateur rider Walsh, a Randox Health Grand National Festival Ambassador for the fourth time in 2018, achieved the highest-ever finish by a female jockey in the Aintree spectacular when third aboard Seabass, trained by her father Ted, in 2012. She has completed the course on four of her five Grand National rides.

Walsh said this afternoon: “Baie Des Iles is really well at home and we are very much looking forward to Saturday.

“She did a nice piece of work towards the end of last week and everything has gone smoothly with her.

“We’re hoping that she will take to the fences and she is a really solid jumper. She ran plenty of times in France over different obstacles and her jumping is one of her biggest assets.

“She has jumped well in all of her races and she is neat and accurate over her fences. She doesn’t jump them too high and measures her fences nicely.

“She ran a cracker at Punchestown on her last start. I wasn’t overly hard on her and she was carrying a lot of weight. The form took a boost with the two horses in front of her running well in the Irish National last week (Isleofhopeanddreams 2nd and Folsom Blue 4th).

“It’s always very difficult to have a horse for the Grand National, but she has an attractive profile and is relatively unexposed.

“She has plenty of form on heavy ground, but she has a good action and I think better ground wouldn’t be too much of an issue either.

“We’re counting down the days now, but it’s going to be a great experience and I’m looking forward to riding in the race again and especially for Ross.

“There is so much luck involved in a Grand National. It can depend on where you’ve been positioned throughout the race or whether you’re behind a horse who doesn’t jump well. There are a lot of variable involved.

“Every runner has a chance of winning the Grand National – you just do not know what is going to happen. We’re really excited about Baie Des Iles and it will be great to be a part of the race again – I’m really looking forward to it.

“Zorka Wentworth [owner] has been a great supporter of the yard who loves the game of National Hunt racing, so she’s also looking forward to the experience.”

Last year’s fourth Blaklion (11st 9lb), one of four entries for dual Grand National-winning trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies, was a decisive nine-length winner over The Last Samuri (Kim Bailey, 11st 7lb, 16/1) in the G3 Randox Health Becher Handicap Chase (3m 2f) over the Grand National fences at Aintree on December 9.

The Gloucestershire-based trainer is also hoping to run Double Ross (10st 5lb, 100/1), Splash Of Ginge (10st, 66/1) and Cogry (10st, 100/1), although it is doubtful whether the last two will get in the final field of 40, plus four reserves, revealed on Thursday morning.

Blaklion was second under top-weight on his latest start in the Betfred Grand National Trial Handicap Chase on heavy ground at Haydock Park on February 17, and has since had a wind operation.

He is the 10/1 joint-favourite with Betway, official betting partner of the Randox Health Grand National Festival, as he attempts to provide Twiston-Davies with a third winner following the victories of Earth Summit (1998) and Bindaree (2002).

Another 10/1 joint favourite is the Willie Mullins-trained Total Recall (11st 4lb), who was staying-on when falling at the third last in the G1 Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup at the Cheltenham Festival in March, having landed the Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury in December.

Ireland’s champion Jump trainer Mullins, successful in the Randox Health Grand National with Hedgehunter in 2005, has two other entries going forward courtesy of Pleasant Company (10st 10lb, 33/1), 10th in last year’s renewal, and Children’s List (10st 7lb, 66/1).

Gordon Elliott, winner of the Grand National with Silver Birch (2007) in his first season with a training licence, is responsible for the third 10/1 joint-favourite, Tiger Roll (10st 12lb), who became the sixth horse to win three different races at the Cheltenham Festival following his success in the Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase last month.

Elliott, who beat Mullins eight to seven in the number of winners sent out at the Cheltenham Festival, is also likely to be represented by Ucello Conti (10st 9lb, 25/1), who was sixth in the 2016 Grand National before unseating his rider at the 22nd fence in last year’s renewal. He is also responsible for Bless The Wings (10st 5lb, 50/1) and the recent Irish Grand National winner General Principle (10st 1lb, 33/1).

Britain’s current champion Jump trainer Nicky Henderson is set to be represented by Gold Present (11st 3lb, 22/1), a three-length winner of a Listed handicap chase at Ascot on December 23, who had an issue when pulled up in the G3 Ultima Handicap Chase at the Cheltenham Festival.

Colin Tizzard’s The Dutchman (10st 10lb, 28/1), was an impressive winner of the G2 Peter Marsh Chase on heavy ground at Haydock over an extended three miles and one furlong on January 20, in which Captain Redbeard (Stuart Coltherd, 10st 6lb, 33/1) was 13 lengths behind in second.

The Dutchman burst a blood vessel when pulled up in the Betfred Grand National Trial at Haydock Park in February, but assistant trainer Joe Tizzard reports the eight-year-old son of King’s Theatre to be in fine fettle.

Tizzard reported today: “The Dutchman is in good form. We took him down to David Pipe’s for a school on Friday morning over the Grand National trial fences and Harry Cobden rode him and the horse jumped well.

“He burst a blood vessel on his last run and came home all wrong. It is not something he is prone to do, so hopefully that’s sorted.

“He will handle the ground well if it does turn up soft, and he won well on heavy ground at Haydock in January, while he is not totally exposed.”

A maximum of 40 runners can line up at 5.15pm on Saturday, April 14 for the 2018 Randox Health Grand National. The final declaration stage is at 10.00am on Thursday, April 12. The declared runners, plus a maximum of four reserves, will be known shortly after this time.

Reserves come into the race if there are any withdrawals among the 40 declared runners prior to 1.00pm on Friday, April 13.

The 2018 Randox Health Grand National Festival at Aintree runs from Thursday, April 12 to Saturday, April 14.

Seeyoumidnight purchased by Patricia Thompson

The Sandy Thomson-trained Seeyouatmidnight (10st 11lb), currently a 16/1 shot with Betway for the Randox Health Grand National, has been bought by Patricia Thompson ahead of Saturday’s race.

This has been a successful tactic for Thompson, who owns Cheveley Park Stud in Newmarket with her husband David, in the past as she bought Party Politics from owner-breeder David Stoddart days before the gelding won the 1992 running of the world’s greatest chase.

The owner has tried to repeat this feat on several occasions, but has been out of luck in recent years.

Last year, she purchased Le Mercurey (who finished 12th) and Highland Lodge (pulled up before the final fence) in the days leading up to the Randox Health Grand National and then snapped up Just A Par (who finished 14th and ran in the colours of the Thompsons’ son, Richard) at the Goffs UK Aintree Horses-in-Training Sale at the racecourse after racing on the first day of the meeting, Grand National Thursday.

Prior to the 2010 Randox Health Grand National, Thompson purchased the well-fancied Character Building, who went on to be seventh under leading amateur rider Nina Carberry, a total of 37 lengths adrift of the A P McCoy-ridden winner Don’t Push It. Both Character Building and Carberry returned the following year for another crack at the race, but could only finish 15th behind the Donald McCain-trained Ballabriggs.

Seeyouatmidnight has faced a race against in time in order to qualify for this year’s Randox Health Grand National.

The 10-year-old, who previously ran in the colours of Sandy Thomson’s wife Quona, needed to run in a chase this season, but several abandoned meetings had frustrated the Scottish-based trainer in his attempt to get Seeyouatmidnight to meet the qualifying criteria.

However, the horse eventually managed to qualify for the Randox Health Grand National following a run at Newbury on March 24, when he finished third under top-weight in a handicap chase over two and a half miles, Seeyouatmidnight’s first outing for a year following wind surgery.

Seeyouatmidnight beat another one of his rivals on Saturday, Regal Encore (10st 12lb, 33/1), when making a successful debut under Rules at 66/1 in a Hexham novice (under Randox Health Grand National winning jockey Ryan Mania) in December, 2013 and he went on the same season to land the G2 Rendlesham Hurdle at Haydock.

As a novice over fences, he beat Blaklion, the 10/1 current joint-favourite for this year’s Randox Health Grand National, in the G2 Dipper Novices’ Chase at Cheltenham in 2016 and, the following season, he had the measure of subsequent G1 winner Bristol De Mai in the Colin Parker Memorial Intermediate Chase at Carlisle.

Betway keeping an eye on Fly

Betway, official betting partner of the Randox Health Grand National Festival, cannot split 10/1 shots Blaklion, Tiger Roll and Total Recall at the head of the market for Saturday’s £1-million Randox Health Grand National following this afternoon’s five-day confirmation stage.

The trio have been at the head of Betway’s ante-post book for some time now, with Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup runner-up Anibale Fly next in the betting at 11/1 following his fine effort at The Festival last month.

Top-weight Minella Rocco is next at 16/1, alongside Seeyouatmidnight, just purchased by Randox Health Grand National winning-owner Patricia Thompson, and The Last Samuri, who finished second behind Rule The World in the 2016 running of the world’s greatest chase.

“At the moment, it’s looking like one of Blaklion, Tiger Roll, Total Recall or Anibale Fly will go off as favourite for this year’s Grand National but, as we’ve seen many times over the years, this can all change in the run-up to Saturday – especially with an unsettled weather forecast over the next few days,” said Betway’s Alan Alger.

“However, it will be interesting to see if there is any further support for Anibale Fly over the next few days after it was confirmed that Barry Geraghty will be on board on Saturday and it’s not inconceivable that he joins the current co-favourites of three at the head of the market in the next 48 hours.”

Randox Health Grand National – NRNB – Betway bet: 10/1 Blaklion, Tiger Roll, Total Recall; 11/1 Anibale Fly; 16/1 Minella Rocco, Seeyouatmidnight, The Last Samuri; 22/1 Gold Present; 25/1 Gas Line Boy, I Just Know, Ucello Conti; 28/1 The Dutchman, Vieux Lion Rouge; 33/1 Baie Des Iles, Captain Redbeard, General Principle, Milansbar, Pleasant Company, Regal Encore, Shantou Flyer, Vicente, Vintage Clouds; 40/1 Alpha Des Obeaux, Raz De Maree, Saint Are; 50/1 Bless The Wings, Buywise, Carlingford Lough, Final Nudge, Valseur Lido, Warriors Tale; 66/1 Bonny Kate, Braqueur d’Or, Chase The Spud, Childrens List, Delusionofgrandeur, Houblon Des Obeaux, Lord Windermere, Pendra, Perfect Candidate, Road to Riches, Splash of Ginge, The Young Master, Thunder And Roses, Walk In The Mill; 80/1 Virgilio; 100/1 Beeves, Cogry, Double Ross, Maggio, Minella Daddy, Mysteree, Phils Magic, Relentless Dreamer, Rouge Angel, Sir Mangan, Tenor Nivernais, Wounded Warrior; 125/1 Alfie Spinner, Henry Parry Morgan, Out Sam; 150/1 Dancing Shadow, Krackatoa King.
1/5 the odds 1-2-3-4-5

Randox Health Grand National: First Fence Fallers – Betway bet: 8/15 At least one horse to fall or unseat at the 1st fence; 11/8 All runners to jump the first fence safely

Randox Health Grand National: Winning Distance – Betway bet: 15/8 Under Three Lengths; 6/4 Three to Nine Lengths inclusive; 2/1 Over Nine Lengths.

Randox Health Grand National: Number of Finishers – Betway bet: 6/4 Under 16 Finishers; 16-18 horses (inc) to finish; 2/1 Over 18 horses to finish.

Randox Health Grand National: Age of Winner – Betway bet: 2/1 7 or 8 year-old; 7/4 9-year-old; 5/2 10-year-old; 3/1 11-year-old or older.

Randox Health Grand National: Special – Betway bet: 11/10Irish Trained Winner

Randox Health Grand National: Winning Weight – Betway bet: 15/8 10st 7lb or less; 9/4 10st – 10st 11lb inclusive; 11/8 10st 12lb or more.

Randox Health Grand National: Special – Betway bet: 6/1 J P McManus-owned Winner

Randox Health Grand National: Special – Betway bet: 6/4 to be a False Start

Randox Health Grand National: Special – Betway bet: 20/1 Female-trained Winner

Randox Health Grand National: Special – Betway bet: 7/1 Gordon Elliott-trained Winner

Going news

Clerk of the course Andrew Tulloch reported it had been dry for 36 hours at 5pm today. He described today’s weather at Aintree as being bright and breezy and amended the going descriptions for all courses this afternoon.

He said: “We have showers and drizzle forecast on and off through to Saturday. The courses have been drying, but whether that continues depends on the quantity of rain we receive.”

Mildmay course – Good to Soft (from Good to Soft, Soft in places)
Hurdle course- Good to Soft, Soft in places stands’ side (Soft, Good to Soft in places)
Grand National course – Soft, Good to Soft in places (Soft)

GoingStick readings at noon today – Mildmay 6.2, Hurdle 5.9 and National 5.

Tuesday – rain clearing mid-morning – 3mm. Thereafter, mainly dry with brighter spells, breezy, 12C.
Wednesday – cloudy & breezy with drizzle overnight, 13C.
Thursday – dry with sunny spells. Rain overnight – 2mm, 12C.
Friday – cloudy, showers through afternoon, 12C.
Saturday – cloudy am, showers pm, 12C.

Three Grade Ones to whet the appetite

Saturday’s racing at Aintree isn’t all about the world’s most famous chase, the £1-million Randox Health Grand National. There are three Grade One races before the day’s feature, starting with the £100,000 Betway Mersey Novices’ Hurdle (2.25pm, 25 entries) run over two miles and four furlongs.

This year’s renewal includes Black Op (Tom George), who was second in the G1 Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle at last month’s Cheltenham Festival to Samcro on soft ground, having previously finished second in a G2 Novices’ Hurdle in January on heavy ground.

Claimantakinforgan (Nicky Henderson), fifth in the G1 Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at The Festival, is a G2 winner this term, having landed the Supreme Trial Novices’ Hurdle at Ascot in December on soft ground, and is looking to improve on his Cheltenham showing. Another runner in the Supreme Trial Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham was Lostintranslation (Colin Tizard), who came home seventh.

The Alan Spence-owned and Nicky Henderson-trained On The Blind Side remains unbeaten after three runs under Rules and a maiden point-to-point victory in Ireland. Sold for £205,000 after his point-to-point success, at the Tattersalls Ireland Cheltenham January sale, the Stowaway gelding has registered two G2 victories.

The £100,000 G1 Doom Bar Maghull Novices’ Chase (3.00pm, 12 entries) over two miles has attracted the Nicky Henderson-trained Brain Power, who was second to Footpad in the G1 Racing Post Arkle Challenge Trophy Novices’ Chase on heavy going at The Festival and is the highest rated (155) in the race.

Cyrname won the G2 Pendil Chase at Kempton last time out. The Nickname gelding is trained by Paul Nicholls, who won this race with San Benedeto last year.

Petit Mouchoir , third in the G1 Racing Post Arkle Challenge Trophy Novices’ Chase, is also entered in the G1 Doom Bar Maghull Novices’ Chase. The Henry de Bromhead-trained chaser finished second in a G1 at Leopardstown after taking a beginners’ chase at Punchestown on yielding to soft ground in October, 2017.

The final G1 on Saturday is the Ryanair Stayers Hurdle (4.20pm, 13 entries), run over three miles and half a furlong. Sam Spinner, trained Jedd O’Keeffe for owners Caron and Paul Chapman, is looking to improve on his fifth in the G1 Sun Bets Stayers’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival in March.

He has to turn around the form with the Cheltenham second and third, Supasundae (Jessica Harrington IRE) and Wholestone (Nigel Twiston-Davies).

Nigel Twiston-Davies’ star The New One, who had a disappointing first try at three miles in the Sun Bets Stayers’ Hurdle when 12th, also looks to bounce back into form.

The Randox Health Grand National
Grade 3 handicap chase, £1 million total prize fund. Aintree, 5.15pm Saturday, April 14, 2018. 4m 2f 74yds over the Grand National fences. For seven-year-olds and upwards which, have started in a chase during the current season and who, up to and including March 19, have been placed first, second, third or fourth in a steeple chase with an official distance description of’ two miles seven and a half furlongs’ or more and which are allotted a rating of 125 or more by the BHA Head of Handicapping following a review of the horses entered and after taking account of races run up to and including February 11. Horses which are not qualified for a rating in Great Britain or Ireland at closing may also be entered. Such horses may be eligible for a weight providing the Handicapper is satisfied that the horse’s racecourse performances up to and including February 11 would merit a minimum rating of 125. Entries closes January 30, entries revealed January 31 (105 entries), weights revealed February 13 (104 go forward – 1 not qualified), first scratchings deadline February 27 (90 entries remained), second scratchings deadline March 20 (73 entries remained), five-day confirmations April 9 (63 confirmations), final declarations 10am April 12. Maximum field of 40 plus four reserves.

J P McManus
Jonjo O’Neill
Simon Such & Gino Paletta
Nigel Twiston-Davies
J P McManus
Tony Martin IRE
Paul & Clare Rooney
Kim Bailey
Gigginstown House Stud
Henry de Bromhead IRE
Slaneyville Syndicate
Willie Mullins IRE
Gigginstown House Stud
Mouse Morris IRE
John & Barbara Cotton
Nicky Henderson
ISL Recruitment
Fergal O’Brien
Carl Hinchy
Richard Hobson

Boultbee Brooks Ltd
Venetia Williams
J P McManus
John Kiely IRE
Trevor Hemmings
Paul Nicholls
Gigginstown House Stud
Gordon Elliott IRE
J P McManus
Anthony Honeyball
Prof Caroline Tisdall & John Gent
David Pipe
Christine Banks
Fergal O’Brien
Trevor Hemmings
Paul Nicholls
Patricia Thompson
Sandy Thomson
The Three Graces
Ian Williams

SprayClad UK
Colin Tizzard
Malcolm Denmark
Willie Mullins IRE
Simon Munir/Isaac Souede
Gordon Elliott IRE
David Fox
Tom George
Paul & Clare Rooney
Jennie Candlish
James Swan
Gavin Cromwell IRE
Michael Scholey & the late Ray Scholey
Sue Smith
C J Edwards, D Futter, A H Rushworth
Dan Skelton
Zorka Wentworth
Ross O’Sullivan IRE
Douglas Pryde/James Beaumont
Patrick Griffin IRE

J P McManus
Charlie Longsdon
T Hywel Jones
Evan Williams
Susannah Ricci
Willie Mullins IRE
Dr Ronan Lambe
Jim Culloty IRE
Stuart Coltherd
Stuart Coltherd
Mrs Julian Blackwell
Venetia Williams
Adrian Butler/S P O’Connor
Gordon Elliott IRE
Robert Bothway
Neil King
Corbett Stud
David Dennis
Options O Syndicate
Nigel Twiston-Davies

Gigginstown House Stud
Noel Meade IRE
Gigginstown House Stud
Mouse Morris IRE
McGoldrick Racing 3
Sue Smith
Baroness Harding
Robert Walford
Trevor Hemmings
Sue Smith
Gigginstown House Stud
Noel Meade IRE
Gigginstown House Stud
Gordon Elliott IRE
John Neild
Nigel Twiston-Davies
Patricia Hunt
Noel Meade IRE
Graham and Alison Jelley
Nigel Twiston-Davies

Frank McAleavy
Dan Skelton
Lynne Maclennan
Michael Scudamore
Roddy Owen & Paul Fullagar
Peter Bowen
Corsellis & Seyfried
Paul Nicholls
Nigel Morris
Rebecca Curtis
Mike Burbidge & The Old Masters
Neil Mulholland
Ednyfed & Elizabeth Morgan
Peter Bowen
Lyreen Syndicate
Tony Martin IRE
Alan Beard & Brian Beard
Kerry Lee
The Dancing Shadows
Victor Dartnall

Gigginstown House Stud
Mouse Morris IRE
D Charlesworth
Gordon Elliott IRE
J C Harrison Lee & T Howard Partnership
Kerry Lee

63 five-day confirmations
22 Irish-trained


Grand National Thursday – Thursday, April 12, 2018

Time Race Distance Prize Money
1.45pm Big Buck’s Celebration Manifesto Novices’ Chase (Grade 1) 2m 4f £100,000
2.20pm Doom Bar Anniversary 4YO Juvenile Hurdle (Grade 1) 2m 1f £100,000
2.50pm Betway Bowl Chase (Grade 1) 3m 1f £190,000
3.25pm Betway Aintree Hurdle (Grade 1) 2m 4f £250,000
4.05pm Randox Health Foxhunters’ Chase (GNC) 2m 5f £45,000
4.40pm Red Rum Handicap Chase (Grade 3) 2m £90,000
5.15pm Goffs Nickel Coin Mares’ Standard Open NH Flat Race (Grade 2) 2m 1f £45,000

TOTAL £820,000

Ladies Day – Friday, April 13, 2018

Time Race Distance Prize Money
1.45pm Alder Hey Children’s Charity Handicap Hurdle (Grade 3) 2m 4f £75,000
2.20pm Betway Top Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 1) 2m ½f £100,000
2.50pm Betway Mildmay Novices’ Chase (Grade 1) 3m 1f £100,000
3.25pm JLT Melling Chase (Grade 1) 2m 4f £250,000
4.05pm Randox Health Topham Handicap Chase (Grade 3) GNC 2m 5f £140,000
4.40pm Doom Bar Sefton Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 1) 3m ½f £100,000
5.15pm Weatherbys Private Bank Standard Open NH Flat Race (Grade 2) 2m 1f £45,000

TOTAL £810,000

Grand National Day – Saturday, April 14, 2018

Time Race Distance Prize Money
1.45pm Gaskells Handicap Hurdle (Grade 3) 3m ½f £75,000
2.25pm Betway Mersey Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 1) 2m 4f £100,000
3.00pm Doom Bar Maghull Novices’ Chase (Grade 1) 2m £100,000
3.40pm Betway Handicap Chase (Grade 3) 3m 1f £75,000
4.20pm Ryanair Stayers’ Hurdle (Grade 1) 3m ½f £180,000
5.15pm Randox Health Grand National (Grade 3) GNC 4m 2½f £1,000,000
6.20pm Pinsent Masons Handicap Hurdle (Conditional & Amateur Jockeys) 2m ½f £50,000

TOTAL £1,580,000

MEETING TOTAL £3,210,000

For further information, please contact:
Grant Rowley, Regional Communications Manager, The Jockey Club (North West) on 07884 655990 email:
Nigel Payne, Press Officer for Aintree for the 2018 Randox Health Grand National, on 07768 025265 email:

About Aintree Racecourse / The Jockey Club

Aintree is home to The Randox Health Grand National, the most famous horse race in the world which is the climax to a three-day Festival meeting in April every year. The racecourse hosts five other fixtures and is a leading conference centre in the north west of England.
More information is available at

Aintree is part of The Jockey Club which stages thrilling sporting occasions including The Randox Health Grand National, The Cheltenham Festival and The Investec Derby. Millions of people every year enjoy the special experiences we offer through racing, music, food and entertainment. Governed by Royal Charter, every penny we make goes back into British Racing to help the sport thrive. We were founded in 1750 and today we are the largest commercial group in Britain’s second-biggest spectator sport, operating 15 racecourses nationwide, The National Stud, Jockey Club Estates, Jockey Club Catering, Jockey Club Live and our charity, Racing Welfare.
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Key entries for Aintree on Friday

Courtesy of my friends at Racenews:

Saturday, April 7, 2018 – The 2018 Randox Health Grand National Festival continues on Ladies Day, Friday, April 13, when the highlight is the £250,000 G1 JLT Melling Chase (3.25pm – 13 entries) over two and a half miles, with the entries and confirmations for the exciting and high-class seven-race card revealed today.

Entries for the JLT Melling Chase include star two-mile chaser Altior (4/5 with Betway, official betting partner of the Randox Health Grand National Festival), winner of the G1 Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase at last month’s Cheltenham Festival.

Trainer Nicky Henderson, who has also entered L’Ami Serge and Top Notch, has yet to decide whether to step unbeaten chaser Altior up in trip at Aintree or wait until Punchestown or Sandown later in the month.

Ireland has a strong hand, with Min (Willie Mullins), runner-up to Altior at Cheltenham, and Balko Des Flos (Henry de Bromhead), winner of the G1 Ryanair Chase over two miles and five furlongs at the Cheltenham Festival.

Somerset trainer Paul Nicholls can choose between Politologue, fourth to Altior at Cheltenham, Frodon, fifth to Balko Des Flos in the Ryanair Chase, and Grand Annual winner Le Prezien.

The Yorkshire-trained Cloudy Dream (Ruth Jefferson), very consistent this season, has to make up some ground on Balko Des Flos, having finished third, beaten just over 12 lengths last month.

There are three further G1 contests on Ladies Day, all for novices, starting with the £100,000 Betway Top Novices’ Hurdle (2.20pm) over an extended two miles, in which the Henderson-trained four-year-old Apple’s Shakira is engaged after she finished fourth when favourite for the Triumph Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival.

The Betway Top Novices’ Hurdle has attracted a very healthy 25-strong entry and the leading contenders also include Cheltenham Festival fifth Claimantakinforgan (Nicky Henderson), hat-trick seeking Global Citizen (Ben Pauling) and Cheltenham second Style De Garde (Nicky Henderson) while Dorset trainer Colin Tizzard has a talented trio to choose from – Slate House, Storm House and Vision Des Flos.

The £100,000 Betway Mildmay Novices’ Chase (2.50pm, 14 entries) over three miles and a furlong sees another potential Henderson-trained favourite in Terrefort, who finished second in the JLT Novices’ Chase at the Cheltenham Festival.

But it will be no easy task with talented mares Mia’s Storm (Alan King) and Ms Parfois (|Anthony Honeyball), plus the Lizzie Kelly-ridden Coo Star Sivola, another Cheltenham Festival winner, and the Bryony Frost-partnered Black Corton potential opponents.

The £100,000 Doom Bar Sefton Novices’ Hurdle (4.40pm, 25 entries) over an extended three miles could be another to go the way of a Henderson-trained contender since he has a strong hand with unbeaten On The Blind Side, Cheltenham Festival second and third OK Corral and Santini, and Chef Des Obeaux.

Gloucestershire-based trainer Fergal O’Brien is hopeful of a good performance from Mystifiable (9st 9lb) if he gets run in the £140,000 G3 Randox Health Topham Handicap Chase (4.05pm, 2m 5f) over the Grand National fences, for which he is one of 44 entries going forward.

Mystifiable is 41 or 42 on the list at the moment depending on the latest handicap ratings issued on Tuesday, with a maximum field of 30 allowed to take part, though plenty of those remaining in the race have other options during the Randox Health Grand National Festival.

The 10-year-old son of Kayf Tara was a creditable fourth over course and distance in the 188Bet Grand Sefton Handicap Chase over the Grand National fences at Aintree in December on heavy ground behind Randox Health Grand National contender and fellow Randox Health Topham Handicap Chase entry Gas Line Boy (11st 3lb, 16/1).

Leading approaching the final fence, Mystifiable faded to finish 24 lengths behind the winner.

His first appearance since then came at Newbury on March 24, when he finished third over an extended two miles in a handicap chase.

Victorious three times over fences, at trips of two and half miles or over, O’Brien’s charge latest success came in a handicap chase at Perth nearly a year ago.

Mystifiable is a 33/1 chance with Betway, official betting partner of the Randox Health Grand National, for the Randox Health Topham Handicap Chase.

O’Brien said: “Mystifiable is in good form at home and is set to run in the Randox Health Topham Handicap Chase.

“He ran well at Newbury last time and he has come out of that race in good form. He has just got slightly outpaced over the shorter trip there, but back over this trip, he will be able to make use of his speed.

“He is progressing nicely and his fourth over the Grand National fences in December is good form.

“He proved that day that he liked conditions and we’re looking forward to running him back over the fences.

“We don’t school our horses over Grand National-type fences, but he jumps very well, so that isn’t an issue.

“He goes there with a good chance and we’ve been happy with him. Ground conditions will play a factor as he is a better horse in the spring on decent ground.

“He was fourth at Aintree on heavy ground, but we will just have to see what the weather does and how much rain they get at Liverpool.

“If he gets into the race, he should have a nice racing weight, so hopefully he will run well.”

Top-weight Shantou Flyer (11st 12lb, 16/1) is an intended runner in the £1-million Randox Health Grand National, with emerging star 17-year-old James Bowen in the saddle, on Saturday, April 14, with the Randox Health Topham Handicap Chase or the £190,000 G1 Betway Bowl Chase (Grand National Thursday, April 12) only options if the ground is bottomless.

His defection would see the Randox Health Topham Handicap Chase weights raised at least 5lb, bringing Mystifiable into the handicap proper.

Next in the weights is 11-year-old Devils Bride (11st 7lb, 40/1), trained in Ireland for Gigginstown House Stud by Henry de Bromhead, who has not run since October when tailed off in a handicap chase over the Mildmay course fences at Aintree.

Double Treasure (11st 5lb, 33/1), trained by Jamie Snowden for Arsenal FC chairman Sir Chips Keswick, is an intended runner and was put through his paces over the Grand National schooling fences in Lambourn earlier this week. The seven-year-old, who jumped well then, last appeared in the BetVictor Gold Cup at Cheltenham in November, but was unsuited by the soft ground and finished seventh. He won his previous four races.

O O Seven (11st 5lb, 10/1 favourite) represents trainer Nicky Henderson who has the best record of any trainer in the history of the Randox Health Topham Handicap Chase, with five wins – Won’t Be Gone Long (1990), Liberthine (2006), Triolo D’Alene (2013), Ma Filleule (2014) and Rajdhani Express (2015). Eight-year-old O O Seven finished an excellent fourth in this race last year to the Ultragold (Colin Tizzard 10st 10lb, 20/1) and is 7lb better off.

The 12/1 second favourite for the Randox Health Topham Handicap Chase with Betway is Theatre Territory (Warren Greatrex, 10st 1lb), owned by Cheltenham Racecourse chairman Robert Waley-Cohen, and the mount of his amateur-rider son Sam, who will be relieved if the weights do go up.

Eight-year-old Theatre Territory has been a model of consistency in five starts so far this season, with her best efforts coming when second to both Ms Parfois and Mister Whitaker in competitive handicap chases at Cheltenham in December and January respectively.

On her latest outing, she ran another game race to finish third in the G3 Betdaq Handicap Chase at Kempton Park on February 24, her first attempt over three miles.

Sam Waley-Cohen is the most successful current rider over the Grand National fences at Aintree, having enjoyed six victories, including three successes in the Randox Health Foxhunters’ Chase on Katarino (2005 & 2006) and Warne (2014). He has also registered two wins in the Randox Health Topham Chase aboard Liberthine (2006) and Rajdhani Express (2015). The closest he has come to winning the Randox Health Grand National in eight rides was in 2011 when he was runner-up on Oscar Time, owned by his father and trained in Ireland by Martin Lynch. The same horse went on to land the Randox Health Becher Chase over the Grand National course in 2014.

The other two races on Ladies Day are the opening G3 Alder Hey Children’s Charity Handicap Hurdle (1.45pm, 2m 4f) which has attracted 60 entries, while the final race is the G2 Weatherbys Private Bank National Hunt Flat Race (5.15pm, 2m 1f) with 33 entries.

Fergal O’Brien could be doubly represented in the £1-million Randox Health Grand National at Aintree on Saturday, April 14, courtesy of Perfect Candidate (11st 2lb, 66/1) and Chase The Spud (10st 11lb, 50/1).

Perfect Candidate was the neck winner under top-weight at Cheltenham in the G3 Handicap Chase over an extended three miles and three furlongs in November and finished fifth to Definitly Red on his latest outing in the G2 BetBright Trial Cotswold Chase at the same course in January.

O’Brien reported: “Perfect Candidate is in good form at home and he looks set to definitely take his chance in the Randox Health Grand National.

“He handles most ground and he has enjoyed another good season, highlighted by his victory at Cheltenham in November.

“He stays and is a sound jumper and whilst he hasn’t had the ideal preparation, everything has been good, touch wood, with him in the last couple of weeks.

“He was entered at the Cheltenham Festival in the Ultima Handicap Chase, but we didn’t go there and thankfully he has been well since.”

Chase The Spud was a six-length winner at Haydock on his first start of the season over an extended three miles and one furlong in November, but has been pulled up in two subsequent starts since, in the Welsh National at Chepstow in January and the Eider Chase at Newcastle over an extended four miles on February 24.

The Alflora gelding enjoyed the biggest success of his career last season in the 2017 Betfred Midlands National at Uttoxeter.

O’Brien continued: “The ground is very important for Chase The Spud, so we won’t make a decision on whether he runs in the Grand National until closer to the races.

“He is a horse who really enjoys soft ground, so we’ll have to wait on the weather before making a decision. Conditions seem to be soft up there currently, so we’ll see what happens in the next week or so.

“We’ll decide on jockeys closer to the race.”


Grand National Thursday – Thursday, April 12, 2018

Time Race Distance Prize Money
1.45pm Big Buck’s Celebration Manifesto Novices’ Chase (Grade 1) 2m 4f £100,000
2.20pm Doom Bar Anniversary 4YO Juvenile Hurdle (Grade 1) 2m 1f £100,000
2.50pm Betway Bowl Chase (Grade 1) 3m 1f £190,000
3.25pm Betway Aintree Hurdle (Grade 1) 2m 4f £250,000
4.05pm Randox Health Foxhunters’ Chase (GNC) 2m 5f £45,000
4.40pm Red Rum Handicap Chase (Grade 3) 2m £90,000
5.15pm Goffs Nickel Coin Mares’ Standard Open NH Flat Race (Grade 2) 2m 1f £45,000

TOTAL £820,000

Ladies Day – Friday, April 13, 2018

Time Race Distance Prize Money
1.45pm Alder Hey Children’s Charity Handicap Hurdle (Grade 3) 2m 4f £75,000
2.20pm Betway Top Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 1) 2m ½f £100,000
2.50pm Betway Mildmay Novices’ Chase (Grade 1) 3m 1f £100,000
3.25pm JLT Melling Chase (Grade 1) 2m 4f £250,000
4.05pm Randox Health Topham Handicap Chase (Grade 3) GNC 2m 5f £140,000
4.40pm Doom Bar Sefton Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 1) 3m ½f £100,000
5.15pm Weatherbys Private Bank Standard Open NH Flat Race (Grade 2) 2m 1f £45,000

TOTAL £810,000

Grand National Day – Saturday, April 14, 2018

Time Race Distance Prize Money
1.45pm Gaskells Handicap Hurdle (Grade 3) 3m ½f £75,000
2.25pm Betway Mersey Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 1) 2m 4f £100,000
3.00pm Doom Bar Maghull Novices’ Chase (Grade 1) 2m £100,000
3.40pm Betway Handicap Chase (Grade 3) 3m 1f £75,000
4.20pm Ryanair Stayers’ Hurdle (Grade 1) 3m ½f £180,000
5.15pm Randox Health Grand National (Grade 3) GNC 4m 2½f £1,000,000
6.20pm Pinsent Masons Handicap Hurdle (Conditional & Amateur Jockeys) 2m ½f £50,000

TOTAL £1,580,000

MEETING TOTAL £3,210,000

Thursday Entries for Aintree 2018

Courtesy of my friends at Racenews:

Buveur D’Air, Might Bite and Balko Des Flos among stars on course for Grand National Thursday

Friday, April 6, 2018 – The 2018 Randox Health Grand National Festival commences at Aintree in tremendous style next week on Grand National Thursday, April 12, with four G1 contests headed by the £250,000 Betway Aintree Hurdle (3.25pm) over two and a half miles.

Star hurdler Buveur D’Air (Nicky Henderson) headlines the 16 entries after bravely defending his Unibet Champion Hurdle crown at Cheltenham last month, when he repelled Melon by a neck in a thrilling finish.

Buveur D’Air rounded off last season with a five-length victory over stable mate My Tent Or Yours, now 11, in the 2017 Betway Aintree Hurdle and has the chance to join horses such as Monksfield and Morley Street as back-to-back winners of the race.

Supasundae (Jessica Harrington IRE), winner of the G1 Irish Champion Hurdle in February, is set to drop back in distance after beating all bar Penhill in the three-mile G1 Sun Bets Stayers’ Hurdle at Cheltenham.

There are two other entries from Ireland in the shape of the mercurial Yorkhill (Willie Mullins IRE) and Identity Thief (Henry de Bromhead), while Auteuil G3 scorer Izzo could line up for France-based handler Carina Fey.

Popular 10-year-old hurdler The New One (Nigel Twiston-Davies) won the 2014 running of the Betway Aintree Hurdle and is entered again.

Betway Aintree Hurdle – odds from Betway, official betting partner of the Randox Health Grand National Festival

8/13 Buveur d’Air
3/1 Supasundae
10/1 L’Ami Serge, My Tent Or Yours, The New One
16/1 Identity Thief, Yorkhill
25/1 Old Guard
33/1 Clyne, Izzo, Verdana Blue
40/1 Air Horse One
50/1 Charli Parcs , Cyrus Darius, Diakali
66/1 Spiritofthegames

Might Bite (Nicky Henderson), runner-up to Native River in last month’s G1 Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup, is on course for a mouth-watering clash with impressive G1 Ryanair Chase victor Balko Des Flos (Henry de Bromhead IRE) in the £190,000 G1 Betway Bowl Chase (2.50pm, 11 entries) over three miles and a furlong of the Mildmay Course.

Last year’s gutsy winner Tea For Two (Nick Williams) has Aintree in his sights again and could become just the third back-to-back winner of the Betway Bowl, following Docklands Express (1993 & 1994) and Silviniaco Conti (2014 & 2015).

Tea For Two’s regular pilot Lizzie Kelly became the first female rider to win a G1 chase when the pair captured the Kauto Star Novices’ Chase at Kempton Park in December, 2015.

Jane Williams, part-owner and assistant trainer of Tea For Two, said today: “Tea For Two has come out of Cheltenham absolutely fine [after finishing seventh in Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup].

“He got round in the Gold Cup, which is all we were expecting, and we were happy enough with that.

“I would be much happier next week if the ground is faster, as he seemed to enjoy the better ground when he won the Betway Bowl last year.

“I think it is only the ground that could catch him out, but we will give it our best shot.”

Betway Bowl – odds from Betway, official betting partner of the Randox Health Grand National Festival

4/7 Might Bite
7/2 Balko des Flos
6/1 Bristol de Mai
15/2 Definitly Red
8/1 Double Shuffle
14/1 Tea For Two
16/1 Clan des Obeaux
20/1 Cloudy Dream
25/1 Sub Lieutenant
50/1 Sizing Codelco
66/1 Shantou Flyer

Double Shuffle (Tom George) has a length to find with Might Bite after the pair finished first and second in the G1 32Red King George VI Chase at Kempton Park over Christmas.

Impressive G1 Betfair Chase victor Bristol De Mai (Nigel Twiston-Davies) and Definitly Red (Brian Ellison), a dual G2 winner this season including the over course and distance in Many Clouds Chase, are also set to line up.

The top-class seven-race card on Grand National Thursday starts with the £100,000 G1 Big Buck’s Celebration Manifesto Novices’ Chase (1.45pm, 15 entries) over two and a half miles of the Mildmay Course.

The race is named in honour of the retired Big Buck’s by owner Andy Stewart. Big Buck’s won a record 18 consecutive races over hurdles between January, 2009 and December, 2012. No less than 10 of those victories came at G1 level.

His wins included a record four consecutive successes at Aintree in the race now known as the Ryanair Stayers’ Hurdle (2009 to 2012 inclusive – a G1 contest from 2010 onwards). Big Buck’s was also successful over fences at Aintree earlier in his career, landing the G2 Mildmay Novices’ Chase in 2008. The horse retired from racing in 2014 with 23 wins from 40 starts and prize money earnings of £1.3m.

The 15-year-old still enjoys a day’s hunting with Lucy Felton and the Blackmore and Sparkford Vale, as well as accompanying her children and their ponies on rides.

Owners Simon Munir and Isaac Souede have the two form contenders in the Big Buck’s Celebration Manifesto Novices’ Chase the impressive G1 Racing Post Arkle hero Footpad (Willie Mullins IRE) and fellow G1 scorer Terrefort (Nicky Henderson), who finished second in the G1 JLT Novices’ Chase at Cheltenham, but they will not have things all their own way.

Black Corton (Paul Nicholls), an eight-time winner this season who has helped propel his rider Bryony Frost into the limelight and is part-owned by Jeremy Kyle, is entered as are his talented stable companions Cyrname and Modus. Other entries include Brain Power (Nicky Henderson), runner-up to Footpad at Cheltenham, and Finian’s Oscar (Colin Tizzard).

The G1 action is completed by the £100,000 Doom Bar Anniversary 4-Y-O Juvenile Hurdle (2.20pm, 14 entries), in which G1 JCB Triumph Hurdle disappointments Apple’s Shakira (Nicky Henderson) and Redicean (Alan King) could reoppose.

Henderson and the Munir/Souede partnership have We Have A Dream, who is unbeaten in four starts in Britain.

The Grand National fences will be in use for the £45,000 Randox Health Foxhunters’ Chase (4.05pm, 25 entries), the highlight of the meeting for amateur riders.

Amputee and former soldier, Guy Disney, is set to become the first amputee jockey to ride in a race over the famous Grand National fences.

Disney rides with a prosthetic lower right leg after the vehicle in which he was travelling in Afghanistan was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade in July, 2009.

In February, 2017, the former Army Captain became the first amputee jockey to win a race under Rules in Britain when gaining victory aboard Rathlin Rose in the Royal Artillery Gold Cup at Sandown Park Racecourse. Disney and Rathlin Rose teamed up for a repeat success in the same contest this year.

Disney’s ride in the Randox Health Foxhunters’ Chase comes after he assembled a syndicate, Somerset Racing GD, to buy Gallery Exhibition, trained by Grand National-winning trainer, Kim Bailey. The horse was purchased with the explicit aim of running in the Aintree race for amateur riders.

Balnaslow (Graham McKeever IRE) was the fast-finishing second 12 months ago, before going on to capture the Champion Hunters Chase at the Punchestown Festival.

Others to note include the Paul Nicholls-trained pair of Wonderful Charm and Unioniste, plus Wells De Lune who represents last year’s winning trainer Mickey Bowen and Irish stalwart On The Fringe (Enda Bolger), successful in 2015 and 2016, who is due to be ridden by Nina Carberry.

Randox Health Foxhunters’ Chase – odds from Betway, official betting partner of the Randox Health Grand National Festival

9/2 Balnaslow
6/1 Grand Vision, Wonderful Charm
9/1 On The Fringe
12/1 Unioniste, Mendip Express
14/1 Wells de Lune
16/1 Monsieur Gibraltar, Barrakilla, Gallery Exhibition, Sir Jack Yeats
20/1 Bear’s Affair, Distime
25/1 Winged Crusader, Mon Parrain
40/1 Rouge Et Blanc, Premier Portrait, Eddies Miracle
50/1 Curraigflemens, Never Complain
66/1 Warden Hill, Bound For Glory, Lilbitluso
100/1 Greensalt
150/1 Vincitore

The final two races of the day are the £90,000 G3 Red Rum Handicap Chase, which could feature 2017 scorer Double W’s (Ruth Jefferson), and the concluding £45,000 G2 Goffs Nickel Coin Mares’ National Hunt Flat Race (5.15pm), both of which have 35 entries.

The three-day Randox Health Grand National Festival continues on Ladies Day, Friday, April 13, and finishes on Grand National Day, Saturday, April 14.

Opening Ceremony

Aintree will be supporting the military on Grand National Thursday by providing hundreds of tickets to military veterans and specifically from the combat wounded community.

Grand National Thursday will feature an Opening Ceremony for the first time, including a 40-strong Scots Guards Marching Band, which will move through the crowd to help create a great atmosphere for the start of the three-day Randox Health Grand National Festival.

The Opening Ceremony will also involve a thrilling Red Devils display from nine Red Devil parachute jumpers who will carry Randox, Aintree and Union Jack flags. A handover of the Randox Health Grand National trophy will take place on the track by the Red Devils.

There will be Grand National-winning horses in the Parade Ring – Bindaree, Silver Birch, Mon Mome, Neptune Collonges, Pineau De Re and Rule The World.

Aintree is also delighted to extend its support to Invictus Games medal winners in the North West, who will feature as part of the brand new Champions Lounge on Grand National Thursday.


The ground at Aintree is drying and Clerk of the Course Andrew Tulloch late this afternoon changed the going descriptions.

He said at 4.40pm: “It has been an overcast and grey day but dry so far and the courses are continuing to dry gradually.

“The Grand National course is now Good to Soft, Soft in places, while the Mildmay and Hurdle courses are both Good to Soft.

“There is a bit of rain forecast tonight and a bit tomorrow, but forecasts differ and we will have to wait and see if we get any.”

Mildmay & Hurdle – Good to Soft (previously Good to Soft, Soft in places)
Grand National – Good to Soft, Soft in places (previously Soft, Good to Soft in places)

Grand National Thursday

From 1977 onwards, when the Grand National Festival became an all-Jump meeting, Grand National Thursday has developed into an outstanding day of racing action, a true Day for Champions.

It is only one of three racedays during the entire British Jump season to offer four Grade One (G1) contests.

Uniquely, Grand National Thursday is the only day of the year with two open G1 races and two G1 contests for novices.

The G1 chase action on Grand National Thursday is headlined by the Betway Bowl, staged over three miles and a furlong of the Mildmay Course.

The fabulous roll of honour boasts the names of some of the very best chasers of the modern era with Wayward Lad, Desert Orchid, See More Business, Florida Pearl, Siliviniaco Conti and Cue Card all having been successful.

Lizzie Kelly created history in 2017 when becoming the first female jockey to win the Betway Bowl aboard Tea For Two.

The G1 Betway Aintree Hurdle moved to Grand National Thursday in 2013, having previously been on Grand National Day. The race is the only British G1 open hurdle run over the distance of two and a half miles.

First staged in 1975, it has proved to be the perfect follow-up for horses who have won the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham.

In 2017, Buveur D’Air joined great performers Annie Power, Jezki, Istabraq, Morley Street, Beech Road, Dawn Run, Gaye Brief, Monksfield, Night Nurse and Comedy Of Errors by winning both the Champion Hurdle and the Betway Aintree Hurdle.

Often regarded as the greatest hurdle race of all-time, the 1977 renewal of the Betway Aintree Hurdle saw a dead-heat between Monksfield and Night Nurse, both dual winners of the Champion Hurdle.

The G1 Doom Bar Anniversary 4-Y-O Juvenile Hurdle over two miles and a furlong is the natural next target for horses who competed in the JCB Triumph Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival.

Last season Defi Du Seuil followed in the footsteps of Pollardstown, Detroit City, Katchit and Zarkandar by winning both the JCB Triumph Hurdle and the Doom Bar Anniversary 4-Y-O Hurdle.

The £100,000 G1 Big Buck’s Celebration Manifesto Novices’ Chase starts the day off with a bang and is named after two of the greatest horses to ever race at Aintree.

Ultra-competitive handicap action comes courtesy of the two-mile G3 Red Rum Handicap Chase which commemorates the legendary three-time Grand National winner Red Rum.

Stars of the future can be found in the concluding race, the G2 Goffs Nickel Coin Mares’ Bumper, which is the richest mares’ bumper at £45,000 run in the UK. Its title derives from the last mare to win the Grand National, the 1951 heroine Nickel Coin.

First staged as a Listed contest in 2013, the Goffs Nickel Coin Mares’ Bumper has rapidly established its place in the expanding British programme for mares and was upgraded to G2 status in 2016.

To sum up, Grand National Thursday is a day to savour, with racing of the highest class, led by four G1 contests plus a G2 race, a G3 event and the Randox Health Foxhunters’ Chase over the Grand National course.

The evolving success of Grand National Thursday – A Day for Champions – is demonstrated by its growing popularity. During the 1980s, the attendance was below the 10,000 mark but has risen substantially, with the crowd figure now around 35,000.
Grand National Thursday on April 12, 2018 includes a Champions of Merseyside dimension, with a number of sporting champions involved in celebrating the best of Merseyside sport at all levels and all ages.

Aintree’s Preview Night returns on Wednesday, April 11 and features among other the 2015 Grand National winning trainer, Oliver Sherwood, and the most successful female jockey in the Grand National, Katie Walsh.


Connections look forward to the big Newbury Weekend

A press conference was held at the Landmark Hotel in London ahead of the £250,000 G3 Ladbrokes Trophy, the three and a quarter mile handicap chase and highlight of the inaugural Ladbrokes Winter Carnival at Newbury on Saturday, December 2.

Bryony Frost has lit up Jump racing in November with her high-profile successes on board Present Man and Black Corton, and she has the chance of making further headlines at Newbury this Saturday, December 2.

She is back on board Present Man, trained by her employer Paul Nicholls, in the £250,000 Ladbrokes Trophy, the second most valuable handicap chase of the season outside of the Grand National.

The 22-year-old 5lb claimer from Devon, in London for only the second time in her life, today spoke of her dreams and life at a media lunch at the Landmark Hotel hosted by Newbury Racecourse and Ladbrokes.

She said: “Calling Present Man special is probably an understatement for me. That day he won at Wincanton (the Listed Badger Ales Trophy Handicap Chase on November 11) was a good day, a big time in planning. I had teamed up with him at Kempton as a sort to get to know each other situation. I was actually pretty nervous that day because I think if I got beat I would not be in the saddle at Wincanton.

“I had to make sure we got the job done at Wincanton and he managed to tough it out and stay there and with a little bit of luck on the line we managed to hold on.

“He grabbed a hold of me and said what we are doing in the race – I had to agree and did not have much choice about the matter. He is a positive force and normally in a race you have one moment where you think that was a bit close. But there were 21 fences and he flew every one of them for me.

“I just had such a buzz off him, and to get the job down for the owners (Mark & Tessa Woodhouse) and Paul, it was a big day.

“I am from Devon, very feral as it were – this is my second time in London. I said to Paul on the train – ‘Paul you are going to have to help me out – I am a little bit nervous about London and people. I said I would need one of those things you put on kids – basically a collar for a child – otherwise I might go wandering off or get in a crowd and be lost’.

“This sort of event is awesome for me to be at. The race is what we do – this is what I have done since I was a little girl – riding horses.

“I know my horse – he knows me – my trainer knows me and has confidence in me. I have confidence in my team and we go there in good stead – he is going to be a 100 per cent because that is what Paul does best. This (the Ladbrokes Trophy) is the plan and let’s see if we can get it done again.”

Asked how it feels if she became the first woman to ride the winner of the Ladbrokes Trophy, she replied: “It is not something I think about. I did walk out of the yard and Dave, who is the head lad of the bottom yard, said: “Are you ready to make history Bryony?” I looked at him as though to say what are you on about? He said the first girl to win the Ladbrokes Trophy. I had not even thought about that, which shows how naïve I am.

“Look, it is cool to follow in footsteps – my Dad, while Paul has won the race as a jockey so to be following in footsteps is still good and they are big footsteps to be following in.

“To make history and to make your own path, lay your own concrete and turn left or right at the crossroads is also something you have got to achieve. At the minute, I ride my horse and I keep climbing up the ladder’ and every step you take is positive.”

Bryony Frost at today’s event

Somerset-based Nicholls, successful three times as a trainer and twice as a jockey in the Ladbrokes Trophy, when it was the Hennessy Gold Cup, commented: “Bryony has done very well – she works hard. Julie, who is a great pal of mine from the days we were riding together at David Barons, said can Bryony join you for a year – she might learn something.

“Once Present Man won at Wincanton, all she was interested in doing was getting to work on time so none of the others would give her any stick. She works hard and at the end of the day she rides well and some of those horses run really well for her.

“With Sam (Twiston-Davies – stable jockey) injured at the moment, you need a good backup team – with Harry Cobden, Bryony, Sean Bowen and so on to pick up the reins. They all do well and it is nice to give the youngsters a chance.

“Present Man to be honest has astonished us – two years ago Andy Stewart and Paul Barber owned him and they sold him to the Woodhouses saying he would be lucky to a small race around Wincanton.

“It is a like a lot of horses do – he has just got older and stronger. I don’t know where the improvement has come from. But his run the other day gives him every chance at the weekend.

“The question at Wincanton was whether he would get the trip in the ground – three and a quarter miles so stamina was an issue. But obviously it wasn’t. A dry forecast this week will help him and he has only 4lb more to carry and with Bryony’s claim he will only be carrying 10st 2lb, which is a proper racing weight.

“Present Man is still improving and who knows where he will end up – that was a career best at Wincanton and we see if there is more to come.

“Braqueur D’Or has done nothing but improve. He was rated 109 when he ran over hurdles for us in May and is now on 139. He has done incredibly well and has got 10st. He is in the novice chase as well and has a couple of other options. We will just have a look and see what the owners want to do.

“I won the race (as a jockey) in 1986 and 1987, 10st 5lb (on Broadheath in 1986) how about that! That was a long time ago. Those were the good days and I have been lucky enough to win it three times (as a trainer) with Strong Flow (2003) and Denman (2007 & 2009). It is a great race to win and it will be a great race on Saturday.”

Paul Nicholls today

Ireland’s champion trainer Willie Mullins is responsible for Total Recall, the 9/2 favourite with Ladbrokes.

The eight-year-old was previously trained by the now-retired Sandra Hughes and made a winning debut for his new stable when taking the J T McNamara Ladbrokes Munster National at Limerick on October 8 by an impressive seven lengths.

Mullins said today: “He is by Westerner and when he came down to us we were very happy with him.

“After he worked for us, we thought he could be on a nice mark and after thinking we would go for the Kerry National, we decided to go for the Munster National instead. Everything went well for him at Limerick – he missed a few early fallers and all the schmozzle in the race. He came through and won very handily in the end

“You need a lot of luck in these big handicaps, which we had last time. It’s very hard to win two big handicaps in a row but Total Recall is doing everything right at home and I don’t know if the handicapper has caught up with him or not.

“If the weights stay as they are at the moment, he has a lovely racing weight. The trip will be fine for him and he jumps well, so he has a lot of things going for him.

“The ground should be fine for him. We know he handles heavy ground but the ground at the moment looks like it will be good to soft, which is perfect jumping ground.”

Mullins could also be represented in Saturday’s race by Children’s List. The seven-year-old was runner-up on his seasonal debut at Limerick on October 8.

The trainer continued: “I was very pleased with Children’s List at Limerick – I thought it was a hell of a run.

“He is quite ground dependant and would appreciate no more rain. He is a horse that is coming to himself. We thought of going for the Troytown with him, but the ground yesterday would have been too soft.

“If there is no rain, he will go to Newbury. He is a horse that can win a nice race somewhere.”

The third possible Mullins starters on Saturday is Pleasant Company, who was last seen out when ninth in the Grand National at Aintree in April.

Mullins concluded: “Pleasant Company is in great form and was also originally going to run in the Troytown but we have decided to go to Newbury instead. He is in good order and was travelling so well until he made that mistake at Aintree.

“Hopefully, we will get to Aintree with him again next year but he has a lovely racing weight and a good each-way chance on Saturday.

“At the moment, the plan is for Paul Townend to ride Total Recall and we will sort out jockeys for the other two later in the week.”

Nigel Twiston-Davies has his string in fine form at the moment, having taken big Saturday prizes with Splash Of Ginge and Bristol De Mai over the past two weekends. He is set to be represented in the Ladbrokes Trophy by Cogry and Double Ross.

He said: “Cogry has done absolutely nothing wrong. He won well last time at Cheltenham.

“I don’t think the handicapper has ruined his mark. I think he has a very good chance, even if the bookmakers don’t think so! He was second in the Scottish National and has won at Cheltenham so why not?

“The horse is as tough as nails and I’d be very surprised if he wasn’t in there fighting at the end. I think he is a big player.

“Double Ross was third last year and unfortunately unseated my son a fortnight ago and then went on to win the race without a jockey. We probably made too much use of him at Newbury last year and will ride him with more restraint this time round.

“Jamie Bargary will ride Cogry and we will probably put Tom Bellamy on Double Ross.”

Nigel Twiston-Davies talks at today’s event

Reigning champion trainer Nicky Hendiserson is seeking a fourth victory in the Ladbrokes Trophy, following successes for Trabolgan (2005), Bobs Worth (2012) and Triolo D’Alene (2013). The master of Seven Barrows is set to be double-handed on Saturday with Whisper and Vyta Du Roc.

Henderson said: “The Ladbrokes Trophy is our local feature race at Newbury, which is our home course in our home county. We are all looking forward to a huge weekend.

“It was encouraging to see Clan Des Obeaux, who Whisper beat at Kempton, come out and win at the weekend. I know it was only a two-horse race at Kempton but there wasn’t much in it.

“Whisper has a good time since Kempton. He schooled on Friday and we will give him another pop before Saturday.

“He has a similar profile to Trabolgan and Bobs Worth. They both won the RSA, whereas Whisper got beaten a nose. To be fair he should have been beaten 24 noses in the RSA – it was only that Might Bite decided to have a detour to the Guinness tent! It was still a great performance, as it was at Aintree when he was second again to Might Bite.

“Whisper is handicapped accordingly and I am not too worried about the hustle and bustle of Saturday’s race for him. He will have a cunning rider on board on Saturday in Davy Russell, who gets on with Whisper really, really well. Davy will already have an idea where he is going to go and what he is going to do on Saturday. Davy lets the horse warm to the race and I think the horse has enough experience.

“We had look at the Rehearsal and Becher for Vyta Du Roc, but he is going to run at Newbury in the Ladbrokes Trophy.

“He has 10st 1lb, which Daryl Jacob can’t do. We haven’t decided who will ride him yet but have a few ideas.

“My optimism comes from the fact he has had a run over hurdles at Aintree, the same day Top Notch ran. We saw how much good it did Top Notch when he won on Saturday.

“If you go back to the last day of the season at Sandown in the bet365 Gold Cup, when he just got beaten. The extra distance helped him at Sandown but you will need to say well in Saturday’s race as it will be run at a proper gallop.”

Saturday, December 2 will also see the first staging of the £40,000 G2 Ladbrokes John Francome Novices’ Steeple Chase (Grade 2), run in honour of seven-time champion Jump jockey John Francome MBE.

Francome gave his thought on this year’s running of the Ladbrokes Trophy, a race he won on Brown Chamberlin (1983) and Burrough Hill Lad (1984).

John Francome: “It was a surprise to have a race named after me but I am very pleased. It was an honour when Mike Dillon rang up and said they wanted to name a race after me.

“Coneygree is such a good jumper and when he won the Cheltenham Gold Cup as a novice, he gave them a jumping lesson. I think it’s difficult to see him out of the first four and I also like Cogry.”

Noel Meade went close to winning the Ladbrokes Trophy with Harbour Pilot in 2002 and the Irish handler’s representative on Saturday is set to be A Genie In Abottle, who is two from two this season with wins at Galway and Wexford.

Meade said:”It’s so far, so good with A Genie In Abottle. It boosted the form a good bit with Mala Beach winning at the weekend and made me feel a bit more confident, although it was Mala Beach’s first run for a long time when we beat him.

“It was a good enough performance when he won at Wexford last time as the track wouldn’t have suited him because it is very sharp and A Genie In Abottle is a big, awkward sort of horse. He is a better on a galloping track and Newbury should suit him well if he gets over the first three or four fences and into a good rhythm.

“We have runners in this race before, including Harbour Pilot (second in 2002) and if you don’t get into a good rhythm, you get so far behind in such a competitive race.

“Sean Flanagan rides on Saturday.”

The 2015 Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Coneygree is set to carry top weight of 11st 12lb in the Ladbrokes Trophy. He disappointed when pulling up on his seasonal reappearance in the G2 Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby on November 4 but trainer Mark Bradstock was in upbeat mood after Coneygree schooled at Newbury on November 21.

Bradstock said: “Coneygree seems great and I am delighted with him. He went round Newbury the other day and jumped absolutely fabulous. David Bass, who schooled him at Newbury, said he’d have paid to ride him.

“I am not quite sure what happened at Wetherby but it was very, very unlike him to jump like that. There were certainly three jockeys who said the sun was a problem and the horse struck into himself quite nastily. It was just one of those things.

“To a certain degree, we went back to the drawing board after Wetherby. We went back into the school and my son Alfie put him over a few poles. We schooled once at home and then went to Newbury.

“I think the best race he has run in his life was at Punchestown last year, on ground that was probably a bit quick for him. I know he has only run about 12 times in his life but Wetherby was his only real blip and I think we can give him benefit of the doubt.

“Top-weight doesn’t really worry me. Having spoken to Richard Osgood this morning, I am glad to hear he thinks it is going to be good to soft or soft at the weekend and there will be covers down on the take-offs and landings. I am happy to see the race run on better ground than heavy ground with a big weight like that.

“He has carried big weights and is 17.2 hands. He is not like his mother or me – we are short arses!

“I am sure he will run a big race on Saturday. I am quietly confident.”

Harry Fry is set to saddle American on Saturday. The seven-year-old is unbeaten in three starts over fences, ending last season when taking a novices’ handicap under top-weight at Uttoxeter in March.

Fry said: “We have been very happy with American’s progress since he came back in over the summer. Due to his fragility, it has always been the plan to go straight for the Ladbrokes Trophy.

“It is obviously going to be a big ask first time out but he did nothing wrong last year – when he three out of three over fences – and he has an ideal profile for the race as a second-season chaser. He had two gallops that brought him along nicely and Noel sat on him last week at Newbury.

“American makes us work hard. We have to work backwards with our plans for big races but he still has to do the required work at home. Thankfully, he has come through his work at home with flying colours and is all set for Saturday.

“It’s no secret that his knees are not great and that is why we need slow ground for him. Looking at the forecast, it should be ideal on Saturday.

“It was a very hard decision not to go to Cheltenham to the RSA but it was the right call to make and he duly repaid us by winning so well at Uttoxeter.

“It is very much the plan for Noel Fehily to ride on Saturday. He wouldn’t run on good ground but that looks unlikely to be the case at Newbury given the rain that has already fallen and the fact that ground doesn’t dry quickly at this time of year. There are no real concerns on that front.”

Latest Ladbrokes prices

9/2 Total Recall
6/1 American
7/1 Singlefarmpayment
15/2 Whisper
12/1 A Genie In Abottle
14/1 Coneygree, Present Man, Cogry
16/1 Royal Vacation, Vyta du Roc
20/1 Carole’s Destrier, Label des Obeaux, Missed Approach
25/1 Pleasant Company, Braqueur d’Or, Southfield Royale
33/1 Childrens List, Double Ross, Bigbadjohn, Potters Legend, Pilgrims Bay
50/1 Regal Encore

Nicola McGeady from Ladbrokes commented: “We are delighted with confirmations for the Ladbrokes Trophy today, 22 of them, and among them four Irish entries. It would be great for the Irish to win it.

“Nigel Twiston-Davies was talking about Cogry earlier and. Of all the movers, he was probably the one who was best backed last week, now 14/1.

“Total Recall is the favourite at 9/2 and we have seen him win the Ladbrokes Munster National last month. It looks a fascinating contest – a whole bunch together at the head of the market – we have Harry Fry’s American, who looked really good at the gallops morning at Newbury last Tuesday, at 6/1 second favourite and then of course Nicky Henderson is well represented with Whisper at 15/2 and Vyta Du Roc at 16/1. Singlefarmpayment is at 7/1. We have heard from Noel Meade about A Genie In Abottle who is priced at 12/1 and heading the weights is Coneygree, whose half-brother Carruthers won the race back in 2011, and he is a 14/1 shot.

“It is a really interesting market at the moment, but the one we have seen the most money for is Cogry.”

Phil Smith, the Head of Handicapping at the British Horseracing Authority, said: “If you look at the last 10 runnings of the equivalent race, eight have carried 11st or above. This year, because of the presence of Coneygree in the race, there are only five in the field who can carry 11st or over. That is quite a small number and yet when you look at the betting they are all quite fancied horses.

“Also three of the last 12 winners have carried top-weight. Three and a quarter miles at Newbury is a terrific test of a horse and yet the class horses have come to the fore on a regular basis.

“To have in the first year of Ladbrokes sponsoring a Cheltenham Gold Cup winner (Coneygree) is absolutely fantastic.

“Total Recall was not that difficult to assess – I thought of a figure and doubled it! The horse won so easily and it was his first run for the stable. I spoke to my colleague in Ireland and we came up with exactly the same figure.

“Of the four Irish entries, there is only a pound or two difference between Britain and Ireland but we have Total Recall on exactly the same mark.

“What we are trying to do with a wide-margin winner like that- we are trying to increase the rating and the weight, but at the same time we are trying to give the horse an equal chance with all the other horses.

“He may be an improver, but I think you can look down this Ladbrokes Trophy field and find 10 or 12 improvers in this race so the big question is, if Total Recall has improved, has he improved as much as all the other horses.”

ITV Racing is showing the first day of the Ladbrokes Winter Carnival, Friday, December 1, for the first time.

Ed Chamberlin, ITV’s lead presenter, remarked: “What Ladbrokes did on Tuesday was terrific – seeing the horses work and really giving the week momentum, so to Newbury and everyone involved, thank you.”

Julian Thick, Chief Executive of Newbury Racecourse said: “In partnership with Ladbrokes, we are looking forward to the inaugural Ladbrokes Winter Carnival in the first of an initial five-year deal.

“We plan on growing this two-day event and are looking forward to the weekend. It is fantastic to see a quality field entered for Saturday’s feature race, the Ladbrokes Trophy, including runners from Ireland.”

Going news ahead of the Ladbrokes Winter Carnival

The current going at Newbury Racecourse ahead of the Ladbrokes Winter Carnival is:

Hurdle Course: Soft, Good to Soft in places

Chase Course: Good to Soft, Soft in places

Rails will be moved overnight on Friday to give fresh ground for Saturday.

In the last 24 hours there has been one millimetre of rain. In total, there has been 11.2 millimetres of rain during the past week.

The forecast for the week ahead is as follows:

Monday, November 27 – Showery before turning dry and windy later. Maximum temperature +9C; minimum temperature +1C.

Tuesday, November 28 – Sunny clear morning before turning cloudy. Maximum temperature +6C; minimum temperature -1C.

Wednesday, November 29 – Dry and bright with sunny spells. Maximum temperature +6C; minimum temperature -2C.

Thursday, November 30 – Dry, cold and sunny day. Maximum temperature +5C; minimum temperature 0C.

Friday, December 1- Sunny spells. Maximum temperature +6C; minimum temperature +2C.

Saturday, December 2 – Dry and cloudy. Maximum temperature +7C.












Nigel Twiston-Davies

Nigel Twiston-Davies initially combined training as a permit-holder with his farming interests throughout the 1980s, having his first winner with Last Of The Foxes at Hereford in March, 1982, as a permit holder before the agricultural recession prompted him to make training his full-time profession.

He took out a full training licence in 1989, recording his first win as a public trainer in December of that year with Babil at Newbury. He has since gone on to register more than 1,850 successes.

Born on May 16, 1957, Twiston-Davies rode 17 winners as an amateur under Rules and gained a further 17 point-to-point victories, and served as assistant trainer to Richard Head and Fred Rimell.

A childhood neighbour and friend of Peter Scudamore, he went into partnership with the champion Jump jockey to set up stables at Grange Hill Farm between Guiting Power and Naunton in Gloucestershire, although Scudamore has not been involved in the venture for many years (since 2003) and currently assists his partner Lucinda Russell. Since 2009, Twiston-Davies’ business partner and assistant trainer is former stable jockey Carl Llewellyn.

Twiston-Davies adopted and developed the pioneering techniques of Martin Pipe, such as interval training and regular blood tests for his string, enabling him to rapidly raise his profile among the training ranks.

He is the only current trainer to have won the Grand National at Aintree more than once, saddling Earth Summit to victory in 1998 and Bindaree four years later. He won the Hennessy Gold Cup, now the Ladbrokes Trophy, with King’s Road in 2000 and had the third in 2016, Double Ross, who runs again this year, while he also has Cogry among the five-day confirmations

The 2001/2002 campaign had been relatively quiet by Twiston-Davies’ high standards before Bindaree provided him with his second Grand National success. Afterwards he revealed that he had been intending to give up training, but despite “having a bigger debt than Argentina” after buying out Scudamore, the Aintree victory made him have a change of heart.

His best season numerically was in 2010/11, when he enjoyed 97 winners. He has saddled 17 winners at the Cheltenham Festival, headed by Imperial Commander in the 2010 Cheltenham Gold Cup and landed what is now the Ladbrokes Trophy with King’s Road in 2000.

He has had a fine start to the 2017/18 campaign, with 39 winners on the board already, headed by the success of Bristol De Mai in the G1 Betfair Chase at Haydock Park on November 25 and Splash Of Ginge in the BetVictor Gold Cup on November 18.

Sons Sam and William are both jockeys. Sam, 25, is stable jockey to leading trainer Paul Nicholls and still rides regularly for his father, while 22-year-old William has ridden successfully on the Flat and over Jumps but has been on the sidelines since falling at the Cheltenham Festival in March.

First winner as a trainer – Last Of The Foxes, whom he also rode, at Hereford in March, 1982

Paul Nicholls

Background – The son of a policemen, he was born in Lydney, Gloucestershire, April 17, 1962 and began his racing career as a Jump jockey. He partnered 130 winners between 1980 and 1989, with his biggest successes coming in the Hennessy Cognac Gold Cup (now the Ladbrokes Trophy) at Newbury on Broadheath (1986) and Playschool (1987), who also won the Irish Gold Cup with Paul up in 1988.

Having struggled to keep his weight down, he retired from riding in 1989 and assisted Devon handler David Barons, trainer of not only Broadheath and Playschool, but also Seagram, who won the 1991 Grand National at Aintree during Nicholls’ time at the stable.

Nicholls took out his own licence to train at Paul Barber’s Manor Farm Stables in Ditcheat on November 1, 1991, with just eight horses and has come a long way since. Manor Farm Stables, which has been expanded, is the main yard, with Highbridge the second yard just outside the village.

Synopsis -10-time champion Jump trainer (2005/06, 2006/07, 2007/08, 2008/09, 2009/10, 2010/11, 2011/12, 2013/14, 2014/15 & 2015/16) and became the first British handler to accrue more than £4 million of prize money in a season in 2007/08.

He is the leading trainer so far this season (2017/18), with 64 wins & close to £887,000 in prize money.

He saddled his 2,000th winner at Down Royal on November 5, 2011, 20 years after taking his licence, making him the fastest Jump trainer to reach the landmark figure and has now gone beyond the 2,800-winner mark.

He has sent out 41 winners at the Cheltenham Festival, the third-highest total ever, including four victories in the feature Cheltenham Gold Cup, five in the Queen Mother Champion Chase, two in the Ryanair Chase and four in the Stayers’ Hurdle. Neptune Collonges provided him with a first Grand National victory in 2012.

He has won what is now the Ladbrokes Trophy three times, thanks to Strong Flow (2003) and the legendary Denman (2007 & 2009). He has Present Man, the mount of Bryony Frost, and Braqueur D’Or going forward for the £250,000 Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury on Saturday.

First winner as a trainer – Olveston, Hereford, December 20, 1991

Bryony Frost

Born : April 13, 1995 Background: daughter of Buckfastleigh-based trainer Jimmy Frost, who rode Little Polvier to victory in the 1989 Grand National before taking over his father’s training licence in March, 2002. Bryony’s brother Hadden, who sources and breaks in horses, was also a successful jockey and partnered Buena Vista to victory in the Pertemps Final at the 2010 Cheltenham Festival. Bryony started riding the yard’s donkey Nosey as soon as she could walk and moved on to riding out racehorses for her father at the tender age of nine. She became an amateur jockey aged 16 and enjoyed tremendous success in point-to-points (over 55 winners in that sphere), winning the National Novice title and the National Hunt Girls’ title. Shot to wider prominence at the 2017 Cheltenham Festival in March when guiding the Paul Nicholls-trained Pacha Du Polder to victory in the Foxhunter Chase. She turned professional in July, 2017, and has gained several high-profile wins for Nicholls already this season, headed by Present Man in the Listed Badger Ales Trophy Handicap Chase at Wincanton on November 11 and Black Corton in the Novices’ Chase at Cheltenham on November 18. The 5lb-claimer has had 31 successes under Rules so far. She is due to ride Present Man in the Ladbrokes Trophy on Saturday.


When – 3.00pm £50,000 G2 Ladbrokes Long Distance Hurdle, Friday, December 1, 2017
Where – Newbury Racecourse

The Ladbrokes Winter Carnival gets underway at Newbury on Friday, December 1, when the highlight is the £50,000 G2 Ladbrokes Long Distance Hurdle over three miles, with a mouth-watering clash between top staying hurdlers, Unowhatimeanharry and Thistlecrack, who were successful in this race in 2016 and 2015 respectively.

Thistlecrack (GB)
9 b g Kayf Tara – Ardstown (Ardross)
Trainer: Colin Tizzard
Owner: John & Heather Snook
Jockey: Tom Scudamore
Starts: 19
Wins: 13
2nd: 2
3rd: 1
Hurdle rating: 174
Grade 1 wins: five including 2016 Stayers’ Hurdle and 2016 King George VI Chase
Newbury record: two wins from two starts including 2015 G2 Ladbrokes Long Distance Hurdle
Total earnings: £644,653

*Having first start since going down by a head to Many Clouds in the G2 Cotswold Chase at Cheltenham on January 28, after which he sustained a tendon injury.

*Not raced over hurdles since defeating Shaneshill by seven lengths in G1 Liverpool Hurdle at Aintree in April, 2016.

Unowhatimeanharry (GB)
9 b g Sir Harry Lewis – Red Nose Lady (Teenoso)
Trainer: Harry Fry
Owner: J P McManus
Jockey: Barry Geraghty
Starts : 24
Wins: 11
2nd: 1
3rd: 7
Hurdle rating: 167
Grade 1 wins: three including 2016 Long Walk Hurdle and 2017 Ladbrokes Champion Stayers Hurdle
Newbury record: two wins from two starts including 2016 G2 Ladbrokes Long Distance Hurdle
Total earnings: £425,646

*Won 10 of 11 starts since joining Harry Fry from Helen Nelmes during the summer of 2015.

*Has race fitness on his side having made a winning reappearance in a two and a half miles conditions hurdle at Aintree on November 11.

Sky Bet Supreme Trial Novices’ Hurdle: press release

Press releases from my friends at Racenews are seldom boring and, where appropriate, I’ll publish them here.


A select field of five is set to line up in the £30,000 G2 Sky Bet Supreme Trial Novices’ Hurdle (3.30pm) at Cheltenham on Sunday, November 19.

The extended two-mile race is the first contest in Sky Bet’s “Road to Cheltenham”, which culminates with the £125,000 G1 Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, the opening race of The Festival at Cheltenham on Tuesday, March 13, 2018.

Heading Sunday’s market at 6/5 with Sky Bet is Dame De Compagnie (Nicky Henderson/Barry Geraghty). The four-year-old filly, owned by J P McManus, was placed in bumpers and over hurdles in France before making a perfect debut for the Henderson yard when scoring at Uttoxeter on November 3. Being a four-year-old filly, she gets a useful 7lb allowance in Sunday’s race.

Her main rival according to the market is Slate House (Colin Tizzard/Harry Cobden, 6/4 with Sky Bet). A winning Irish point-to-pointer, the five-year-old son of Presenting was sold for £260,000 at Cheltenham in March and made a winning debut for his current connections when successful in a maiden hurdle over Sunday’s course and distance on October 27.

Colin Tizzard said today: “Slate House is like a lot of ours in that he tightened up for his victory at Cheltenham last month. That was a nice performance and he really benefitted from that.

“He is a beautiful creature and we were really excited about him going into the race. After that performance, we were equally excited and surprised about how he won..

“We paid a few quid for him and he needed to prove that he was as good as the price we paid for him, but we thought he was. I think he will prove tough to beat. I’m very confident of a big run. It will take a good one to beat him.”

Also lining up on Sunday are Bedrock (Dan Skelton/Harry Skelton, 8/1), who was third in G1 company behind Defi Du Seuil at Aintree in April and successful subsequently at Warwick and Bangor. He was third in a conditions hurdle at Cheltenham on October 28 last time out.

Completing the field are Better Getalong (Nicky Richards/Noel Fehily, 16/1), who scored impressively on his hurdling debut at Ayr last month and Summerville Boy (Tom George/Adrian Heskin, 16/1), who won his only bumper start when trained in Ireland and was a close second on debut for the Tom George stable at Stratford on October 21.

Michael Shinners, Racing PR Manager at Sky Bet, said: “Sky Bet’s Road to Cheltenham is now in its fifth season and we have an intriguing contest for our opening contest of the 2017/18 campaign.

“Dame De Compagnie and Slate House both look to have bags of potential, while Bedrock has already shown a high level of form in Graded company.

“Altior won this race two seasons ago prior to landing the Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at The Festival and we will be looking out for any early Festival clues at Cheltenham on Sunday.”

Sky Bet Supreme Trial Novices’ Hurdle, Sky Bet odds: 6/5 Dame De Compagnie ; 6/4 Slate House; 8/1 Bedrock; 16/1 Better Getalong, Summerville Boy