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Monday 7 April 2014

Weekly Review - Aintree

Looking back at the National meeting last week we had many confirmations of Cheltenham form over the three days and not least in the National winner itself Pineau De Re. The winner was French bred for extreme distance and this is born out by the dosage index and that he was related to Otage Du Perche who won the 3m5f Grand Steeplechase De Paris. He was the third 11yo in succession to win the big one and prior to that there were two 10yo winners so the balance has tipped in favour of the older horse. He was really on top at the end running on strongly and if he had 10lb more on his back he would probably still have been the winner.

Looking back on his run at Cheltenham in the Pertemps Final he was third to Fingal Bay and Southfield Theatre.The latter grabs me as a Royal Sun Alliance type for Nicholls, he was carrying 7lb more than Pineau De Re and his trainer said afterwards that "He will be some awesome chaser next year" and he is not often wrong in the assessment of his emerging talent.

One or two to take out of the National are Double Seven, who was running on unfavourable going. McCoy didn't really give a lot of hope for his chances pre race but next year he will be at the prime age of 9 and no doubt he will be campaigned for the race. He probably wont get the going that he wants as the executive will always strive, it would seem, to get the going on the easy side of good.
Also Alvarado made up an extreme amount of ground in the closing stages and surely if he can lie closer to the pace next time round he can get better his 4th place and maintain his owner and jockeys very good run of places in the race.

It was disappointing to see one of my selections Across The Bay get carried out as they went to go out onto the second circuit. I know his jockey was upset at what happened but surely he has to take some of the blame. It doesn't take Einstein to work out that a loose horse will almost certainly want to return to the stables rather go round the National course again and he should really have placed himself on the opposite side of the loose horse or at the very least dropped back and let it go past.

In the Topham the 6yo Ma Filleule took the field apart and franked the form of Holywell in the process having finished second to him at Cheltenham, Holywell himself had won earlier in the day at Aintree. Ma Filleule recorded a time 7 seconds quicker than his stablemate Triolo D'Alene did in the Topham carrying a stone in weight more and his trainer commented after the race that he had hoped she would take to the fences as she had been the best of the ones he had tried over the National type fences at home. Being only six she may be a longer term prospect for  the National as she probably will have other targets such as the Hennessy and Gold Cup next season for which she will have a 5lb mares allowance.

One thing I noticed in the National after the first circuit was the number of volunteers re dressing the fences once they had been jumped. In previous years I'm not sure this has taken place with such vigour and I can remember from the past big gaps in the fences that the jockeys used to aim for to conserve their mounts energy on the second circuit. This time around though there were no gaps to see on the second circuit so the horses had to jump the fences as though it was the first circuit and this will have placed even further questions against the staying and jumping ability of each horse that was still involved.

Don't know about you but generally the fences looked a bit scruffier than normal and standards seemed to have dropped in that department. Bechers didn't look like the same fence and I think it was something to do with the way it was dressed. I know its been taken apart bit by bit over the years - no brook, reduced drop etc etc but it needs to look the part.