Michael Smith and his wife Sandra may combine farming with training racehorses “just for fun” but they spiked the big guns at Aintree when Orsippus won the £100,000 Matalan Anniversary 4-Y-O Novices’ Hurdle.
Just as the front-running Barizan was seeing off the challenge of Sanctuaire on the run-in, along came 40-1 chance Orsippus with a wet sail under Davy Condon to collar them both and go three and a quarter lengths clear.
As his wife led Orsippus proudly around the winner’s enclosure, Smith, who is based at Kirkheaton near Newcastle, said: “We have just seven horses on the farm and they are all owned by Sandra.
“Mind you, she said she would take them to another trainer if we did not start having a few winners!”
Smith, 45, a former amateur international road-race cyclist, went on: “We wanted to get a horse to run for a bit of fun through the summer and we claimed Orsippus out of a seller at Yarmouth (£4,500).
“He was trained by Mick Channon for Harry Findlay and Tony Bloom, who rang me and said that we had got a classy horse and that we would do well with him.
“He lost 25 lengths when squeezed out at the first bend at Cheltenham (when third behind Sanctuaire in the Fred Winter Novices’ Hurdle) and we thought he would improve.
“We have entered him for Punchestown and he will go there if he comes out of this race OK.”
Condon, now having a successful time back in his native Ireland after a spell with Nicky Richards, said: “He ran a cracker at Cheltenham considering and he shouldn’t have been the price he was today.
“I fancied him and he picked up the best, it turned into a sprint and he had most gears.”
Silver Adonis put in a spring-heeled performance to win the John Smith’s Fox Hunters’ Chase over the National fences and cause a 50-1 upset in the process.
Trained by Dr Philip Newland, he finished a 33-length second in a hunter chase at Ludlow on his last start.
Newland said afterwards that the nine-year-old was now a doubtful runner for tomorrow’s Topham Chase over two and three-quarter miles of the National course.
He explained: “He is a horse designed for this course and I have trained him to run twice in two days having given him six months off prior to his last run at Ludlow where the ground was too quick.
“I was told by the vets before the race that he would not be allowed to run tomorrow, but I think it is a political decision and it is quite wrong although I fully understand the issues of horse welfare.
“I have to speak to the stewards about it and we will see how he is in the morning, but I think it is doubtful he will run now anyway.”
Winning rider Tim Weston’s joy was tempered by a five-day suspension for using his whip with excessive frequency.
Having finished second in the race 2005, he said: “It is an unbelievable feeling, I just wanted to win one of these big races and I am relieved to have done it.”
Chaninbar (20-1) put up a splendid front-running performance to give conditional Sean Quinlan his biggest success in the Alder Hey Imagine Appeal Red Rum Handicap Chase, and looks set to make a quick return to the fray.
Trainer Milton Harris said: “He is a horse that really jumps quick and low, but he has got a few kinks in him.
“He is a good horse on his day and he can work with anything at home – I am just annoyed I did not have anything (money) on him.”
He went on: “After winning like that I don’t think we have any choice but to run him at Cheltenham next week in a conditional jockeys’ race, although Sean won’t be able to ride him.”