Triolo D'Alene Wins Topham for Henderson
1 Triolo D'Alene 14/1
Triolo D'Alene held on to claim a thrilling John Smith's Topham Chase at Aintree for the red-hot combination of Nicky Henderson and Barry Geraghty.
Henderson’s first reaction was to pay tribute to the back-room team at his Seven Barrows stables in Lambourn. “I know we trainers always say getting a horse to the races is a team thing,” he said, “and so it is every time.
“But with this horse it has all been a humungous effort by everyone at home. He has not been easy all season, he’s had respiratory problems. But the last week has been a particular nightmare.
“We always felt this race might be the one for him, he had just the right profile for it – he’s a two and a half miler who stays three miles, the ground had come right for him and he’d really enjoyed schooling over the practice Aintree fence they built for us in Lambourn.
“Everything had been going sweetly until he pulled a shoe off last week. When I go to bed I take my shoes off. Somehow he did as well – he pulled one off in his box overnight and then stood on the thing.
“So he had a sore foot and since then he’s spent his time with his foot in poultices, in ice, in salt, in foot spas, the lot. And we managed not to miss any work with him. Everyone worked their socks off with him and it’s a massive thank you to everyone at home.”
Barry Geraghty said: “He’s jumped well. he’s was very clever.”
Triolo was tackling the Grand National fences for the first time as well as winning his first Grade Three, having being pulled up in Grade Three BetVictor Gold Cup at Cheltenham back in November.
Geraghty, who regularly rides the six-year-old Epalo gelding for trainer Nicky Henderson, added: “At a couple of them I asked him and he put down – he was very good. He’s a young horse and could be a John Smith’s Grand National horse next year. I thought the fences rode great and were a little bit more forgiving. I think they have done a good job with them.”
John Smith's Topham Chase (Handicap)
NATIONAL DEBATE FOR WALKON AND LAST TIME D’ALBAIN
The second and third horses home in the John Smith’s Topham Chase may well be aimed at next year’s Grand National following excellent first-time performances over Aintree’s unique spruce fences.
The Alan King-trained Walkon was beaten just three-quarters of a length by Triolo D’Alene but owner Max McNeill was celebrating as if the eight-year-old had won. He said: “He ran superbly well and we weren’t really expecting so much. He’s had a tough season – second in the BetVictor Gold Cup on heavy ground, second in the December Gold Cup and then we had a go at the Cleeve Hurdle thinking that we might have a go at the World Hurdle like everybody else. He ran a super race at the Cheltenham Festival but they just went a little bit too quick for him.
“We didn’t come here with massive expectations as we thought the ground had gone against him but according to Wayne [Hutchinson, jockey] he loved the ground.
“I’ve got to convince my wife and my daughter but we have to think about the National really, the way he was finishing there. We had a family debate about whether we were even going to run him here today because you never know how they will take to these fences – it’s a completely different proposition. He’s done us proud – I feel like he’s won!”
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