RANDOX GRAND NATIONAL FESTIVAL: FIRST GRADE ONE SUCCESS FOR PIC D’ORHY IN MARSH CHASE
Friday 14th April
Pic D’Orhy gained a deserved first success at Grade One level when successful in today’s Marsh Chase at Aintree.
Paul Nicholls, the winning trainer, said: “He’s been improving all season and worked his way up from Newton Abbot at the start of the season to here, where he’s put in a proper Grade One performance. He’s physically just a different horse to what he was a year ago and missing Cheltenham was just such an advantage.
“We did the right thing missing the Ryanair, we’ve kept him fresh and well and it’s good. He’s a better horse on a flat track and we’ve never been to Cheltenham with him. A lot of horses who ran at Cheltenham aren’t running particularly well here and you’re always going to get that – regardless of whether it’s three weeks or four weeks between festivals. This race has been his target since he won the Peterborough Chase.
“Claudia Reid who looks after him has just got back from Australia on Monday! She’s been with us for a couple of years but she went back for four weeks to get her visa all sorted out. She flew back on Monday to be with him!
“The thing with Bravemansgame is just one of those things that was out of my control. It could have been a blessing in disguise, you never know. He had a hard race at Cheltenham and he’ll be back next season.”
Harry Cobden, the successful jockey, said: “He jumped beautifully and Brian Hughes was very good to me as his horse (Minella Drama) jumped ever so slightly left and there were a couple of occasions when he could have kept me a lot tighter than he did. He was very fair. He’s a top-class jockey.
“We had a very slow day yesterday and half of the times I’ve ridden this horse I’ve ended up on the floor. I’ve had three bad falls on him, so it means a lot when he wins.
“He’s got a low head carriage so I leave him alone and let him fiddle his way. I don’t ask him too many questions. Going to the last I had to ask him to go and win his race and I was on a really long stride. I don’t usually ask him on that sort of stride, so I gave him a flick on take off just to be committed, and we got the job done.
“He’s been the underdog all his life and I was delighted to win a Grade 1 with him as he’s been a fantastic horse in Peterborough Chases and other Grade 2s. It’s nice that he’s had his day in the sunshine.”
Joseph O’Brien, trainer of the runner-up Fakir D’oudaires, said: “He came home very well and we’re delighted with the run. He was beaten by a good horse. You’re always a bit frustrated when they don’t win, but he ran very well and we’re delighted with his performance. We’ll see how he comes out of the race and I’ll discuss it with JP and Frank [Berry], but I don’t think there’s a lot for him now this season. He’d maybe have options at Punchestown, but I’m not sure I’ve entered him there, so that might be it. He’s still a young horse. I don’t think the pace was very strong and they were quickening up over the last mile, but I’m very proud of how he came home.”
Donald McCain, trainer of Minella Drama, the third home, said:“I’m thrilled, but that is not a shock as that is what we think of him. He is always susceptible to a true Grade One horse, but he is a very useful and talented horse.
“It has to be the right conditions for him to go against the others (if he is to win a Grade One). He goes on deep ground and goes on soft ground. You have to remember he was second in a Grade One as a novice hurdler. He is a smart horse. He is not the easiest to train. Adrian Lane lives with him and rides him every day and Brian makes it look a lot more simple than it actually is to be honest as he is a bit of a wild man. There will be a day when circumstances are right and we can capitalise on it.
“They are probably classier than him the top horses but there will be a day because he keeps turning up and running his race. Two and a half miles is ideal, though you could come back on heavy ground, but then you are taking on championship two milers and he is not one of those as we found out last season at Sandown.”
3.30pm Marsh Chase (Grade 1) 2m4f
1 Pic D'Orhy 4/1
2 Fakir D'oudairies 15/8F
3 Minella Drama 14/1
Distances: 4¼l, 2¾l, 19l