Topham Chase Friday 8th April 2011 

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Always Waining Gets Double Compensation in Topham

1 Always Waining 14/1
2 Mon Parrain 7/2 Fav
3 Scotsirish 20/1
4 Gonebeyondrecall 33/1
30 ran

West Wales trainer Peter Bowen confirmed he is king of the John Smith’s Topham Chase when winning the race for the third time in six years today.

Always Waining
© Grossick Racing Photography

Always Waining

His Always Waining, ridden by Tom O’Brien, won the race for the second successive year – the last horse to achieve that was Roughan in 1957 and 1958 – and followed up Dunbrody Millar’s victory for Bowen in 2007.

Today’s win was consolation for the trainer and owner Peter Douglas, who hoped their horse would line up in tomorrow’s John Smith’s Grand National, but he was the 41st horse on the handicapper’s list, and only 40 horses are allowed to take part.

Bowen criticised the system, because Always Waining had a handicap rating of 140 in tomorrow’s race, the same as Royal Rosa and Skippers Brig – they were placed ahead of him in the elimination list for having better recent form, but Bowen felt a ballot between the three would have been fairer, and he also said his horse’s winning Aintree form should have given him priority.

Bowen said: “I was disappointed the way the system works – if there are three horses in the National all with the same mark then a ballot should be conducted. Our horse has run three times [unplaced] over hurdles recently, so why was that form even considered? Having won the Topham last year he should have been considered first.

“We don’t know whether he would stay four and a half miles, but until we are given a chance to find out we won’t know. All season we have targeted the National, and he’s 11 next year so he’s not getting any younger. The problem is he hates soft winter ground – he blooms from mid March on - so if we run him in chases before next year’s Aintree meeting we risk lowering his handicap mark, not putting it up. We’re on a hiding to nothing.

“We gave a lot of our horses time off in December when they had flu jabs, and we don’t target Cheltenham, we target this meeting.”

O’Brien said: “The race didn’t go to script because we missed the break and from the second-last I was riding for second place. Then he heard the crowd and just took off.”


Starting Price
Beaten Distance
Always Waining
P Bowen
T J O'Brien
10st 4lbs
14 - 1
Mon Parrain
P F Nicholls
R Walsh
11st 6lbs
7 - 2
4 lengths
W P Mullins
D J Condon
11st 10lbs
20 - 1
6 lengths
N F Glynn
A E Lynch
10st 7lbs
33 - 1
10 lengths
Swing Bill
D Pipe
T J Murphy
10st 8lbs
25 - 1
Frankie Figg
J Howard Johnson
B Hughes
10st 7lbs
10 - 1
N J Henderson
B J Geraghty
10st 5lbs
25 - 1
6 lengths
Stormin Exit
J S Goldie
J Reveley
10st 4lbs
20 - 1
Chasing Cars
Mrs J Harrington
R M Power
10st 7lbs
25 - 1
1 3/4 length
D McCain Jnr
P J Brennan
10st 4lbs
33 - 1
16 lengths
Forzy Origny
N J Henderson
Felix de Giles
10st 11lbs
28 - 1
9 lengths
C A McBratney
Andrew J McNamara
11st 1lbs
16 - 1
2 3/4 lengths
P R Webber
D Elsworth
10st 11lbs
40 - 1
17 lengths
Isn't That Lucky
Jonjo O'Neill
R McGrath
10st 0lbs
16 - 1
16 lengths
Fistral Beach
P F Nicholls
Nick Scholfield
10st 9lbs
28 - 1
9 lengths
D Pipe
J M Maguire
11st 2lbs
33 - 1
2 1/2 lengths



Tom O’Brien, the winning rider on Always Waining in the John Smith’s Topham Chase, said: “He never knows when he is beaten and I have to thank Peter Bowen for letting me ride him.

“I rode him on his run before this race last year and I thought that it was amazing that he won here but he comes alive when he hears the cheers.

“I thought that he was going to be second but, as soon as the crowd cheered, he just took off.

“I was supposed to ride Private Be last year but unfortunately he dropped me at the start. It was quite hard walking back in and seeing Always Waining (with Brian Hughes up) win.

“I was under instructions just to let Always Waining see what he was doing and I ended up missing the start. He just kept jumping from fence to fence and getting closer to the front, with the others falling away. I thought that I had a chance when we were jumping Becher’s.

“I was second for Peter on McKelvey in the Grand National and it’s good to get it right on the day.”

Peter Bowen, the winning trainer, added: “He is just brilliant round here. He loves this place and he ran quite well over hurdles last time, so we were happy with him. He was unlucky not to get in the Grand National but this is some compensation.

“My son Nicky rides him out everyday so he is absolutely over the moon.

Nicky Bowen, who led up Always Waining, added: “He has been in good form. He is a bit of a monkey but he loves it round here and only comes to life over those fences. He’s only small but he has got a big heart.”



Always Waining set a new course record time of 5m 19.30s for the two miles, five and a half furlongs over the Grand National fences.



Trainer Paul Nicholls was looking forward to next season with Mon Parrain after the 7/2 favourite finished second to Always Waining in the John Smith’s Topham Chase.

Mon Parrain
© Racehorse Photos

Mon Parrain

“I couldn’t believe he got beaten,” said Nicholls. “I think he probably just did a bit much and ran out of petrol on the way to the line.

“What he wants is a good summer break as he’s only five, then he’s going to be a fair animal next year. I’m certainly going to train him like a good horse and it was a close call whether I ran him yesterday with Denman in the totesport Bowl.

“I’ve still not convinced about what his trip is and he shows so much speed at home that I wouldn’t be afraid to start him off over two and half miles.”

The Willie Mullins-trained Scotsirish was runner-up in last year’s John Smith’s Topham Chase and this time around finished in the money again with a good third behind Always Waining and Mon Parrain.

Mullins said: “We were delighted with how he ran and jumped. Davy gave him a super ride and it’s great to be back in the frame again.

“When you’re jumping this track just to get a clear round and some prize money counts for a lot.”

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