RANDOX GRAND NATIONAL FESTIVAL NEWS: BANBRIDGE RECORDS FIRST GRADE ONE SUCCESS IN RACEHORSE LOTTO MANIFESTO NOVICES’ CHASE
Thursday 13th April
Banbridge recorded a first success at Grade One level when successful in the opening race of the 2023 Randox Grand National Festival, the Racehorse Lotto Manifesto Novices’ Chase.
Winning trainer Joseph O’Brien said: “JJ [Slevin] gave him a lovely ride. It’s great to come here with a fresh horse. He was a little bit sticky over the first couple - normally he’s quite exuberant, but he was a bit sticky over the first couple of fences. But once he got into his rhythm, he was lovely from then on.
“You know, he ran in the Drinmore [Novices’ Chase, at Fairyhouse on 4 December] earlier in the season, and after that race Ronnie said, ‘We know he's a better horse on better ground, so there’s no point wasting runs on soft ground. I think we probably saw the result of minding him earlier in the year today.
“It’s beautiful ground - lovely, safe ground. They’ve done a great job on the course - it’s perfect spring ground.
“We will look at Punchestown for him. Obviously we’ll see how he comes out of this, and we’ll discuss with Ronnie and Ian where he should go, but it’s great to win a big race here this week.
“You could say, looking at him today, that he could stay further in time, but he’s certainly not slow. Well enjoy today first before we look further afield.
“It’s either two or three miles at Punchestown, and it’s probably more likely that he’ll go two than three, but I don’t know.”
JJ Slevin, the winning jockey, said: “He was a little bit laboured early and it took a while for him to find his usual fluent rhythm and when he did he was very good. He stuck at it well and I was happy with him. It is ideal ground on the slow side of good and he got a lovely bounce of it.
"After three or four fences he found his usual fluent rhythm of jumping and travelling and when we faced down to the third last he came alive under me. Point-to-pointing was a very good grounding for him in Ireland and the boys have done a good job with him at home. I think so (that he has the attributes to mix it in open company).
“I think he could go up in trip again and if he progresses over three miles he could be a right horse. For sure (missing Cheltenham helped him) as horses that have come out of Cheltenham have found it hard as it was a hard year with heavy ground and you always get a tough race there. We missed Cheltenham and it was a good bit of planning by Joseph.
"Two and a half miles is what he is most comfortable with but he might even step up again. I managed to get hold of his head after the back of the second last and hold on to a little bit more and I knew it was going to take a fair one to get by me as he is a good honest horse. You watch Aintree all your life and it is great to be here and get a winner.”
Ronnie Bartlett, the winning owner, said: “It was good. He is very ground dependent and thankfully today the ground stayed how it did. Good, good to soft is fine, soft to heavy it is not going to work for him. He is such a good moving horse. For him missing Cheltenham helped him. He is best when he is fresh. He won at Cheltenham last year and we then came here and it was a race too much for him. He is a bit more mature now and he might handle things better but we will see.
“I just thought after the second last fence JP’s (McManus) horse (Saint Roi) started to creep in it but he jumped the last well so I’m very happy. We will enjoy today.”
Frank Berry, racing manager to runner-up Saint Roi’s owner JP McManus, said: “He was a little bit keen today, but he jumped well bar one. Mark (Walsh) said the ground was lovely and he handled it well, but he was just outstayed or outgunned by the winner.
“He’s entered in Punchestown and Willie (Mullins) will see how he comes out of this race and make a decision. We’d be looking forward to him next season, as he’s improved with each run this season.”
Jockey Mark Walsh, aboard Saint Roi, added: “He ran well, with no excuses.”
Peter Fahey, trainer of the third-placed Visionarian, said: “I’m delighted with his run. He jumped great and he did everything well. I think he’s probably caught between trips. I think the two and a half probably stretched him in that grade of race and I think two miles is probably a bit short for him, but we’ll see how he is. We’ll make a plan after that but I’m delighted with the run. He goes on good ground and he hasn’t been over-raced, so we’ll see how he comes out of this and find something.”
Sheila Lewis, trainer of Straw Fan Jack (28-1, 5th), said: “He’s done us proud again there. He looked a bit out-paced there but at the end of the day he’s earned about £5500 for making up the numbers – you’d need to win at least one race at Ffos Las to get that!”
1.45pm Racehorse Lotto Manifesto Novices' Chase (Grade 1)
1 Banbridge (IRE) 2-1
2 Saint Roi (FR) 3/1
Stage Star (IRE) 6/4 Fav (4th)