All roads lead to Aintree for Market

All roads lead to Aintree for Market

Niche Market was handed a 33-1 quote from William Hill for next year’s Aintree Grand National after springing a surprise for Bob Buckler in the Powers Whiskey-sponsored Irish version at Fairyhouse.

Well beaten in the National Hunt Chase at the Cheltenham Festival on his last start, he had nevertheless won a decent prize at Ascot earlier in the season.

Ridden confidently by 19-year-old Harry Skelton, son of international show jumper Nick Skelton, Niche Market (33-1) held on grimly as long-time leader Church Island (50-1) threw down one final challenge.

It was not to be for fans of the Michael Hourigan-trained Church Island though as Niche Market prevailed by two lengths, with another 50-1 shot A New Story - also trained by Hourigan – in third, and 8-1 favourite Rare Bob fourth.

“He is a lovely horse and an absolute star,” said Buckler. “We had a major worry when he got cast and ripped a shoe off on Sunday afternoon. That was a worry to put it mildly but the farrier came out and got it sorted.

“The distance wasn’t a worry as he was fourth in the four-miler (at Cheltenham) last year and we thought that he had a decent chance in that race again this season but he got bumped around on the inside and never got a clear run.

“He missed out on (getting in) the English National by four and that may have been a blessing in disguise as this was much more suitable for him.

“He jumps and he gallops. Harry rode a brilliant race.

“This is it for the season for Niche Market and we’ll look at Aintree next year.”

Skelton added: “It’s probably the greatest achievement of my life so far. When he won at Ascot earlier in the season that was good but this puts it in the shade.

“My dad is here to enjoy it so it’s absolutely unbelievable.

“A win like this can only help my career but in this game you are never at the top, the bar keeps on rising.”

Original top weight Notre Pere was pulled out in the morning leaving Jonjo O’Neill’s Wichita Lineman, the mount of Tony McCoy, at the head of the weights. However, he sadly suffered a fatal fall at the first fence, with the same fate befalling Tony Martin’s Drumconvis later on the first circuit.

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