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All the action on the opening day

KALASHNIKOV FIRES BRITAIN’S YOUNGEST JUMPS TRAINER INTO THE BIG TIME

Everyone turned up hoping to see La Bague Au Roi defeat the boys again and win her third consecutive Grade One. Kalashnikov, however, had not read the script.

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The winner of the Devenish Manifesto Novices’ Chase delivered his own feelgood story for the sport though. Kalshnikov not only gave his trainer, Amy Murphy, her first ever Grade One victory, he is also owned by Murphy’s father Paul.

 

Amy is one of Britain’s youngest trainers and, unusually for a trainer with jumpers, plies her trade in Newmarket.

 

Racing fans will still remember the agony etched on her face when she and Kalashnikov missed out by the narrowest of margins in last year’s Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival. 

 

All that was forgotten here at Aintree though, amid emotional scenes.

For La Bague Au Roi there will no doubt be plenty of future opportunities for one of the sport’s most exciting mares.

 

SUPASUNDAE MAKES IT A SUPER THURSDAY FOR HARRINGTON & CO

Trainer Jessica Harrington must still be disappointed that her two original entries for Saturday’s Randox Health Grand National have had to be pulled out, meaning she must wait another year for her first runner in the race.

 

However, Supasundae’s brave and bold defeat of twice-Champion Hurdler Buveur D’Air in the Betway Aintree Hurdle will have gone some way to cheering her up.

 

Jockey Robbie Power and his partner might not have seemed like the obvious winner of this with four hurdles left to jump. But when leader Melon fell it became a three-way battle with Buveur D’Air and Ch’tibello. Supersundae is as tough as they come though and, in the colours of the late Alan and Ann Potts, gave punters who were on at 15-2 plenty to cheer about.

 

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Connections will be disappointed that Faugheen ‘The Machine’ had to be pulled up with a circuit to go, but reassured by the way he made his way back to the stables with no apparently no issues.

 

WALSH MAKES A MAN OUT OF KEMBOY AFTER CHELTENHAM MISHAP

We’ll never know what kind of a run for their money Kemboy will have given the Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup field three weeks ago after unseating jockey Ruby Walsh early on. But what we do know is that he’s a very good horse. Too good, in the Betway Bowl Chase, at least.

 

Kemboy and Walsh made light work of the Aintree fences and won impressively without ever looking like being headed at the finish.

 

Credit too to Sir Alex Ferguson’s Clan Des Obeaux, another who struggled to make an impact in Cheltenham’s showpiece race.

 

After wandering around and looking destined to finish fourth, jockey Harry Cobden managed to get him going again and up into the places to finish second.

 

PENTLAND HILLS SYNDICATE CELEBRATES A SECOND WIN IN THREE WEEKS

Not many horses follow up a Cheltenham Festival victory with a win at the Randox Health Grand National Festival.

 

Even fewer do it when the gap between the two events is just three weeks.

Hats off (briefly though, it’s raining) then to Pentland Hills and jockey Nico de Boinville who followed up their victory in the JCB Triumph Hurdle with a closer, yet equally satisfying, win in the Doom Bar Anniversary 4-Y-O Juvenile Hurdle.

Pentland Hills is now a fantastic advertisement for syndicate ownership, giving them two days to remember at UK Jump racing’s biggest two festivals.

 

Many of the ‘Owners Group 031’ syndicate were there to see it, crowding together to celebrate on the winner’s rostrum with trainer Nicky Henderson and de Boinville.

 

TRAINERS AND JOCKEYS MAKE THURSDAY THE NEW LADIES DAY

Ladies Day is day two of the Randox Health Grand National Festival, right? Wrong.

 

After trainer Amy Murphy made an instant impression by winning the first with Kalashnikov, a female trainer-jockey combination of Kelly Morgan and Tabitha Worsley won the Randox Health Foxhunters’ Open Hunters’ Chase with Top Wood.

 

Right on cue it was top Irish jockey Rachael Blackmore who then took the next, the Close Brothers Red Rum Handicap Chase.

 

Two female jockeys are on course to line up in the Randox Health Grand National on Saturday – Blackmore and Lizzie Kelly. Both have won Grade One races in Britain and both have big chances at the weekend. The question is – can either of them make history by becoming the first female jockey to win the world’s greatest steeplechase?

 

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