It was just too quick for Hurricane Fly but he ran a great race. It was Jezki’s ground, just as it was last year. Both proved that they will be up to the World Hurdle next year, that’s for sure.
It was too quick for Un De Sceaux as well, even though he won comfortably. He just wouldn’t have liked it any quicker and he has earned his summer rest.
Upazo was just a little unlucky but all the other decisions I made were based on the ground being slower than it was and the results told.
Meanwhile in today’s action Faugheen (5.30) has been in tremendous form since Cheltenham. John Codd, who looks after him and rides all his work couldn’t be happier with him. I rode him myself Tuesday morning and he worked well.
It’s hard to see Jezki pulling out again after the World Hurdle, so the main danger is stablemate, Arctic Fire, who had a heavy fall in Aintree but doesn’t seem any the worst for it. Looking at Bellshill and Don Cossack, it seems very possible to run at all three meetings and win.
Whereas we went to Cheltenham hoping he was as good as we thought, he is now the champion there to be aimed at, but that’s what we like.
I’d imagine it will be like the Champion Hurdle in that I don’t see a pace angle in the race. I might have to do the donkey work myself but that won’t be a problem as Cheltenham proved. You won’t find a bigger Faugheen fan than me so it would be great to end the season on a perfect note and I don’t see any reason why he won’t.
Nichols Canyon deserves to be favourite in the day’s second Grade 1, the Champion Novice Hurdle with no Windsor Park but I wouldn’t be surprised if Sempre Medici put it up to him. He definitely improved a good bit for his run in the County Hurdle and bolted in at Fairyhouse in the two mile novice hurdle. I was never going to ride McKinley, who has disappointed since winning a Grade 1 in Naas last January.
Nichols is a hardy little horse who has done very little wrong. He unseated me at Christmas and I rode him wrong in Cheltenham but learned my lesson that day. He was very good in Liverpool and keeps surprising us. He never sets the world on fire but he wins races. His form is rock solid and he sprinted down the straight at Aintree. He’s a good ride but I do think Sempre Medici is the biggest danger.
Val De Ferbet (4.20) is set to carry top weight but I have been lucky enough in the past with top weights in this race, thanks to Alexander Taipan and Scotsirish. Wishfull Thinking won it with top weight and Road To Riches was an unlucky loser last year with top weight. It’s a limited handicap so he only has to give a stone and seven to anything.
I could have ridden Blood Cotil, who has plenty of experience and though he made a few mistakes in the Grand Annual, that would be very uncharacteristic. Tennis Cup hosed up in a novice chase in Cork but I think Val De Ferbet is the best horse we’re running the race. He’s a low, quick, slick jumper that is on the up. To me, he’s a graded horse running in a handicap and I can’t get away from that.
We have always thought Max Dynamite (6.40) is a nice horse and he has a chance to show that now. He was fourth in the County Hurdle but somersaulted last time house in Fairyhouse, in the race Sempre Medici won. We think he’s well and that it left no mark on him. There’s not much between him and Aminabad on ratings – it’s 138 to 136 in his favour and hopefully he can run that sort of race. We think the drying ground will really suit him.
I won this race twice in the past on Arctic Fire and Un De Sceaux and I think it’s fair to say that I’m not as well armed this time. I do think it could be a match though between Willie’s duo.
Willie runs five in the fillies’ bumper: Bobarlee, Captain Carol, Dani Salimanca, Teresa Di Vicenzo and Avichi. I wouldn’t have ridden any of these apart from Captain Carol, but she’s been off the track since last December.
Avichi is a half-sister to Hurricane Fly which is notable, while Patrick owns Teresa Di Vicenzo. Despite that, he rides Dani Salimanca and if you are looking for a pointer, that would be good enough for me.
The day ends with the Champion Hunter Chase. We have nothing in it but with Noble Prince and Warne taking on On The Fringe, it should be a good race. Still, On The Fringe was brilliant at Cheltenham and was no less good at Aintree. It should be a case of ‘Go Nina, Go’.
Nicholls Canyon (6.05)
Val De Ferbet (4.20)
Max Dynamite (6.40)