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12th April 2024 Aintree


Friday 12th April

The second race staged over the Grand National fences during the Randox Grand National Festival, the Randox Supports Race Against Dementia Topham Handicap Chase (2m 5f 19y) went to 20-1 chance Arizona Cardinal.

Owned by the Oakman Racing Club, trained by Stuart Edmunds and partnered by Ciaran Gethings, the eight-year-old stayed on well after the last to overhaul James Du Berlais and score by a length.

Ciaran Gethings said: “I think I’ve gone beyond smiling, to be honest, it’s unbelievable. I love the horse, I always have. He’s just a fantastic little horse. We’ve had our troubles with him, but Sutart has trained him to the minute. I rode him at Ludlow last time when he bolted up, and I came in and said, that wasn’t the real horse, even though he won by 20 lengths, he didn’t feel like the same horse he did.

“Stuart said, that’s fine, we’ve won a few quid so we’ll spend a few quid on him. We just got him right, we brought him down to Lambourn to school, and I said to Stuart on Tuesday when we gave him a last pop, usually these races are just filling up numbers and we’re coming for a day out, but I really felt that we weren’t and that we had a good chance.

“That’s a different feeling for me, coming here - I usually just come up and pick up spare rides or have big outsiders, but I’ve fancied him for a long time. I haven’t really told Stuart that or a lot of people, but I’ve told a lot of friends, and I ride out at Kim Bailey’s and told them as well, that I really did fancy him to run a big race and that he was made for it.

“I thought I was beat, to be honest, and that we’d be second, but he just never stopped. It’s unbelievable.

“He travelled a bit strong and I was a little bit outpaced over the first three, which I always thought I would be, which is why I was very keen to get some room over to the Chair. THen I was beside Paul the whole way and we had acres of room. He jumped so well he came up out of my hands at one or two, but he’s got so much scope. I passed Bassy turning in and he said, keep filling up, keep filling up. Paul came by me doing a half-speed and when we jumped the last Paul went away, but my lad has won over three miles so I knew he wouldn’t stay, I just thought we might be a bit outclassed. It was only about 10 strides before the line that I knew I was going to win, and that’s an unbelievable feeling.

“I just had a quick look up - I don’t know what I looked like and I don’t care what I looked like - and usually you are hoping the line will come to you, but I was hoping it wouldn’t come to me because I was gaining all the time. I had a quick look and I thought I had long enough to get to him and thank God I did, because finishing second would have been great but it wouldn’t have been the same feeling as I have now.

“I thought riding a Listed winner at Thurles during the winter gave me a great buzz, but this is right up there with the best day ever. My dad is here and my cousins, and my Mum is watching at home. Today tops the time I had a winner here for Stuart when we were racing without crowds - this is something else.”

Stuart Edmunds said: “To be honest I thought we were beat, and I would have been happy with second, but he stays, and he stays three miles. He stayed on very well and we are just over the moon.

"You couldn’t quite believe it was happening to be honest with you. It has been the plan for a long time to come here and it has worked, Thank God.

"It is a massive emotion at the moment as the horse didn’t have the easiest beginning to the season as he had a lung infection, and it took a while to get over that. Everybody spends hours with him, I’m just the one that does the shouting. He is a lovely horse, and an absolute gentleman.

"I thought of this plan seven or eight months ago mainly because we thought his jumping was superb, and I don’t think he has made a resemblance of a mistake. We took him down to Lambourn to have a pop over the fences, and he was class. We probably tried to treat him like an out and out stayer for a while, and we ran him over three miles two at Warwick. He was bang there at the last, but then he pulled up. It sounds bonkers, but he emptied completely.

"This ground has probably helped us being slower over this trip.

"He could have been finished if it wasn’t for everybody getting their heads together and working out a plan. He spends an awful lot of time out in the field and that is a big help to him.

"This is really just the icing on the top of what has been a good season. It has been a plan, but then you see him go 14-1, 16-1 and 20-1 and you think are there better handicapped horses than us. We had to win our last two to get in the race, whereas some of the others didn’t have to win their last race to get in.

"It is definitely one of the most emotional winners I’ve had. I don’t smile very often do I! Quite whether he would get the Grand National trip I don’t know. We might stretch him for the Becher maybe and have a try as he has relished the fences.”

Anthony Bromley, racing manager to owners Simon Munir and Isaac Souede, said of the runner-up James Du Berlais (6-1): “We are very proud of him and Daryl (Jacob) said he would love that sort of test around those fences as he takes you into a fence.

"Paul (Townend) said he had an excellent spin. He didn’t need to be leading at the last, but he said he jumped it so well he landed in front. It was a long way up the run in and I suspect the weight probably just told at that point as he had given it his all.

“You would come and have another go at this race, but you wouldn’t go another circuit as he travels too strongly for that. I’d say he will come back for this race next year.”

Paul Nicholls, trainer if the third Kandoo Kid (10-1), said: “Thrilled with that. He’s only a novice, so he’s improving and we thought he’d get the trip. He was staying on really strongly. I’ve always thought I might start him next season in the Coral Gold Cup - he loves Newbury, he’s got to go left-handed and he’ll definitely get a trip, because all he does now is stay. He jumps great, so he might end up back here in the National one day.”


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