07th April 2017

Grand National Festival – Day 2 review

Tizz’l do the trick

Colin Tizzard continued a memorable season by landing a 4334/1 Ladies’ Day treble at Aintree, with two Grade Ones and the Randox Health Topham Handicap Chase the latest big prizes to fall to the Somerset handler.
Much had been expected from stable stars Thistlecrack, Cue Card and Native River at Cheltenham, but after Gold Cup favourite Thistlecrack missed out due to injury and the other pair could not lift the Blue Riband event, a wonderful campaign was in danger of finishing as a damp squib.

The yard’s runner had not been in such red hot form at Prestbury Park or in the interim weeks, but Tizzard certainly had that ‘Friday feeling’ as he carried off the featured JLT Melling Chase with Fox Norton, having kicked things off in the Crabbie’s Top Novices’ Hurdle courtesy of 16/1 Pingshou, both Grade One contests.
While connections Ann and Alan Potts and jockey Robbie Power were still celebrating doubles from those successes, Ultragold jumped big and bold over the Grand National fences, staying on gamely to win the Randox Health Topham Handicap Chase at 50/1 under 18-year-old Harry Cobden.

Of the last-named, the trainer said: “It’s amazing to win a race like this. He cost a pound or two and whilst he has won six races, he wasn’t what we thought we were buying.

“We thought we were buying a three mile and two furlong horse but he is really a two or two and a half mile horse, but he has won a lovely race today. This racing game is amazing.”

It certainly has been this season for Tizzard, whose Grade One successes included the Betfair Chase for his beloved Cue Card and then a King George VI Chase for Thistlecrack, who had won the same Aintree race as Pingshu two seasons ago.

Of Fox Norton, who came to Liverpool on the back of a second to Special Tiara in the Champion Chase, delighted pilot Power said: “It is a pleasure for me to be riding horses like this. He ran a cracker in the Champion Chase and was a bit unlucky, but I schooled him last week at Colin’s and had no doubt the trip today would play to his strengths. He came out of that race bouncing.

“We went a proper gallop today, but I was always in my comfort zone. He has travelled everywhere and jumped from fence to fence. There were one or two mistakes first time round but we were never in any danger. He quickened up well going to the last and winged it, and I think he’ll stay further on this type of ground.”

Other races

Elsewhere on the card trainer Nicky Henderson enjoyed a double through Might Bite, who followed up his RSA Chase win by repeating victory over stable companion Whisper in the Betway Mildmay Novices’ Chase, and Rather Be, who atoned for an early unseat at Cheltenham when carrying Jeremiah McGrath to success in the opener.

Another gaining compensation for a Prestbury Park fall was The World’s End, who held off Beyond Conceit to take the Grade One Doom Bar Sefton Novices’ Hurdle for trainer Tom George and jockey Adrian Heskin.

There was also success from the plate for champion Richard Johnson, who carried Lalor to a shock 33/1 success in the concluding Weatherbys Private Bank bumper, giving trainer Richard Woolacott a first Aintree Festival winner.