RANDOX GRAND NATIONAL FESTIVAL NEWS: LUCK TURNS FOR TRAINER WARREN GREATREX AS BILL BAXTER TRIUMPHS IN THE TOPHAM
Friday 14th April
Trainer Warren Greatrex enjoyed a welcome change of luck when 20-1 chance Bill Baxter triumphed in the Randox Topham Handicap Chase over the Grand National fences.
Warren Greatrex, the winning trainer, said: “I can’t believe it. This horse was the horse that was probably coming out to put our name on the map. I ride him every day. I had a plan a while back with Scott who helps me enter the horses. Then he fell at Hereford but it wasn’t his fault.
“This was the race that was going to suit him as long as the rain came. Last night I rang the owner and I said if it is like this we won’t run. Someone is looking down as it has rained all day. He would suit this type of race as he travels and jumps and he got him in a great rhythm.
“When James Bowen was injured Sean (Bowen) would have ridden him next but he rode for his dad and we went through who had good form around this and Sam is up for anything. So we went with someone positive. I have to say once we got over the first I thought it is game on here. He is a very clever horse and I knew he would adapt to the fences. I knew turning in as long as he jumped the last two he would win. I was just screaming my head off, I can’t believe it.
“When you are on a crest of a wave and everything is going well and you are training Grade One winners in England and Ireland then you hit a low it is tough. Then we lost the two lads and that really hurt and it still hurts me now. We are a great team. I know I can do it and I’ve proved I can do it. I’ve got some nice young horses and hopefully this will open the gates to some better things. I always question myself all the time. Last night I had a runner in the bumper and I couldn’t believe it as I thought she would run really well and she disappointed. I know it is a bit different in bumpers but I thought this horse had a solid chance as long the ground was soft. He never lets you down and he will go on to bigger and better things. Sam said he travelled very strong today. We will just enjoy now.”
Sam Twiston-Davies, the winning jockey, said: “To go round these fences is a great buzz. Warren said to me beforehand, ‘Do you look forward to it?’ There’s a moment where it is obviously a very prestigious race and you’re mad [keen] to ride in it, but when you’re going out, you think, ‘Well, am I just mad?’ It’s a hell of a buzz. I’m delighted for Warren and his team. This horse would nearly be unbeaten if it wasn’t for falling after his wind op, but at the end of the day, I got a fantastic ride. The rain suited him well, and he obviously stays as well. He had a lot of attributes that meant it suited him before the race, but the jockey needed not to mess it up!
“I didn’t have any particularly hairy moments. I jumped into the bottom of one at quite an early stage and then switched in, and thought I’d get a smooth-ish run in there. Nico de Boinville’s very wily and I thought he was going to try to keep me penned in behind Paul, but this horse is a tough so-and-so and he managed to get himself back out, and when we got to to the Elbow, he was very tough. I can’t really believe it, to be honest - I’m surprised!
“You spend a lot of time watching videos, and to watch this lad’s replays is almost a pleasure, because you are watching a horse go round that jumps well, gets in a good rhythm and is incredibly tough.
“A standing start is something you always need to get right, and thankfully he was very good down to that. Watching his videos, he always looks as though he warms up over his first three [fences], but here you need to be spot-on for your first three with a lot of revs on, and going down to the first he winged it, and I was like, ‘Well, if you’re going to do that all the way round, you’ll be fine.’ He’s been very well trained and well taught. Warren did everything right - he’s been up the Aintree fences in Lambourn, he’d done everything. Although you always hope you can win, it’s tricky then to do it, but it went smoothly, thank God.
“The rain and the watering really suited this horse. The sad thing is that Our Power [in the Grand National] - it won’t be a problem, but it makes it a real stamina test, and that’s one question we don’t know the answer to. He’s by Power, a Coventry winner, so… He’s a freak, and if any horse can do it, it’s him because he does everything the right way round.”
Nicky Henderson said of Fantastic Lady: "That was a great run, tremendous. She was going well going to the last but the other horse just pulled out a bit more. She wouldn't really want that ground but she's got through it. I expect she'll come back here, she jumped for fun all the way."
Nico de Boinville, rider of Fantastic Lady,0 commented: “She’s given me a great run there and I’m absolutely delighted with her. I thought our chance had gone when the rain came but she’s very gutsy.”
Brendan Powell, rider of third-placed Killer Kane: “He gave me a fantastic ride and we nicked third in the end, which was ideal. He took to the fences really well and it was a good solid run. He’s been winning races around Kempton on better ground, but he’s pretty versatile.”
David Casey, assistant to Willie Mullins, trainer of fourth-placed Haut En Couleurs: “We couldn’t have asked for much more in fairness. Obviously carrying 12 stone is not easy, but he jumped like a buck and travelled great. He did a lot of things right but unfortunately the weight told in the end.”
Paul Townend, rider of above: “He jumped brilliant but had too much weight.”
4.05pm Randox Supports Race Against Dementia Topham Handicap Chase (Premier Handicap) 2m5f
- Bill Baxter 20/1
- Fantastic Lady 25/1
- Killer Kane 25/1
- Haut En Couleurs 15/2
29 ran NR: Quel Destin
Distances: 1¾l, 12l, 1¾l