Doom Bar Maghull Novices' Chase
|Grade 1, Aintree 15:00
1m 7f 176y, Class 1
|Saturday 8th April 2017
1 San Benedeto 4/1
2 Forest Bihan 6/1
3 Charbel 6/5F
5 ran Distances: hd, 13l, 18l
Time: 3m 56.60s (slow by 7.60s)
San Benedeto takes Doom Bar Maghull Novices' Chase
San Benedeto was the thrilling head winner for trainer Paul Nicholls at Aintree this afternoon.
The 4/1 shot looked booked for third as the field headed towards the final fence and, when leader (and stablemate) Politologue and Forest Bihan jumped the fence in unison, jockey Nick Scholfield must have thought his chance had gone.
However, in an astonishing turn of events, the Sam Twiston-Davies ridden grey stumbled three strides after the fence and crumpled to the ground, leaving the eventual runner-up Forest Bihan clear of the field.
Scholfield never gave up though and conjured up a withering run from the six-year-old and the pair stayed on strongly to snatch an unlikely victory in the shadows of the post, with the 6/5 favourite Charbel a further 13 lengths back in third.
Nicholls looked visibly shell-shocked after the race and couldn't quite believe what he had just seen.
"He was so unlucky there - he just stumbled!" said the exasperated trainer.
"San Benedeto will never get another chance to win a Grade One like that but, looking at it, Politologue was desperately unlucky not to win.
"That why you have a first reserve in races like this though. He's been an amazing horse - he only won last Sunday (at Ascot in a handicap chase) and sometimes fortunes favour the brave.
"How unlucky was Politologue though? He absolutely winged the last and then just stumbled. John (Hales - owner) is obviously disappointed but, on that showing, he looks a two miler so we'll sit down and see what John and Sam think.
"He gallops and jumps and two miles will probably be his job next year. It's nice to have Grade One winner and a Grade One winner here though."
Doom Bar Maghull Novices' Chase (Grade 1)
£100,000 added, 5yo plus, 1m 7f 176y, Class 1
||San Benedeto (FR) 4/1
|P F Nicholls
||Forest Bihan (FR) 6/1
||Charbel (IRE) 6/5f
|K C Bailey
||Colla Pier (IRE) 33/1
||R T Dunne
||D P Dunne
||Politologue (FR) 5/2
|P F Nicholls
FALL NO HELP TO FOREST
A fall by Politologue at the final fence when he was upsides with Forest Bihan saw a radical change to the race.
Left in front, Forest Bihan looked sure to score but lost out in the shadow of the post to a late lunge from San Benedeto.
Brian Ellison, trainer of the runner-up, felt Politologue's fall did his runner no favours.
He said: "Brian (Hughes) said the horse just pulled up when he hit the front. I think if the grey hadn't fallen it would have helped us. It would have given us something to battle against.
"But Forest Bihan is a talented horse and he will go for the better races next season and chase some prize money."
MISTAKE MATTERED FOR CHARBEL
There was to be no consolation win for the Kim Bailey-trained Charbel following his luckless run at last month's Cheltenham Festival
On that occasion he was in contention for the Racing Post Arkle Challenge Trophy
, and putting it up to favourite Altior
, when falling two from home. Today he was made the 6/5 favourite, but after leading the field he made a mistake in the back straight and was struggling from that point.
Ridden by David Bass, he eventually came in 13 lengths behind runner-up Forest Bihan.
Bailey said: "He made a mistake at the wrong time and could never really get going after that. He landed slightly sideways and you have to jump every single fence spot on in races of this standard.
"I don't think Cheltenham left a mark - he jumped every other fence fine, but who knows, it's a $100,000 question. He has an entry at Punchestown, but we'll see how he comes out of this race before making a decision. I wouldn't have thought it very likely he'll go there."