Runners at this year’s John Smith’s Grand National meeting fared very well in the Anglo-Irish National Hunt Classifications and the annual jump awards, which were released today, Monday, May 12.
The classifications rate the best chasers and hurdlers who ran in either Britain or Ireland during the 2007/08 season (which ended on Saturday, April 26). Many among the top rank were successful at Aintree, while others recorded good placings at the fabulous three-day meeting in early April.
The Howard Johnson-trained Tidal Bay, who followed up success in The Irish Independent Arkle Novices’ Chase at Cheltenham with a devastating six-length victory in the Grade One John Smith’s Maghull Novices’ Chase at Aintree, topped the two-mile novice chasers listing. He ended the 2007/08 season rated 166, ahead of Aintree runner-up Takeroc on 157. Tidal Bay’s rating also means that he is the best overall horse in the novice chase division to have raced in Britain or Ireland last season.
In the three-mile plus novice chase division, Albertas Run, trained by Jonjo O’Neill, got the verdict on 155 from the Paul Nicholls-trained Big Buck’s. The last-named crept up the ratings to 153 after scoring in the Grade Two John Smith’s Mildmay Novices’ Chase, a race in which Albertas Run finished third.
The David Pipe-trained Our Vic, winner of the Ryanair Chase at the Cheltenham Festival, rallied late on to snatch victory from 2007 totesport Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Kauto Star in a thrilling finish to the Grade Two totesport Bowl Chase at Aintree on the opening day of the John Smith’s Grand National meeting.
That win moved Our Vic up to 171 in the three-mile plus chasers’ listings, behind Paul Nicholls’ trio Denman (182), Kauto Star (179) and Neptune Collonges (174) along with Exotic Dancer (172).
In that same list, the Pipe-trained Comply Or Die moved up considerably after his superb four-length victory in the John Smith’s Grand National to finish on 154. Meanwhile his owner, David Johnson, was the British Champion Owner for the sixth time in 2007/08.
Aintree runner-up Kauto Star, who provided owner Clive Smith with four awards last year for his efforts over a variety of trips, heads the two and a half-mile division on a rating of 176. He was judged to be three pounds superior to Alan King’s Voy Por Ustedes, winner of the Grade One John Smith’s Melling Chase at Aintree.
Queen Mother Champion Chase winner Master Minded, who suffered his first defeat on completed starts since joining Nicholls from France when second to Voy Por Ustedes at Aintree, remained clear in the two-mile listing on 185.
Of the novices hurdlers, two further Aintree winners were towards the fore with Pettifour, winner of the Grade One Citroen C5 Sefton Novices’ Hurdle, taking the two and a half-mile plus novice hurdle division honours on 152, ahead of his Aintree victim Gone To Lunch, Cooldine and Elusive Dream who were all rated 151.
Commenting on the improving Pettifour becoming the first Aintree winner to take that award, British handicapper Martin Greenwood outlined that the gelding’s unbeaten run, which culminated in that Aintree success over Gone To Lunch, meant he was a deserving winner of the title.
The Noel Meade-trained Jered, winner of the two-mile category on a rating of 155, is a unique winner in that he has yet to race outside of Ireland, in fact his nine starts have all come at either Fairyhouse or Punchestown.
Binocular, Nicky Henderson’s highly impressive seven-length winner of the Grade One John Smith's 250th Anniversary 4-Y-O Novices' Hurdle at Aintree, follows Jered on 152 along with Supreme Novices’ Hurdle winner Captain Cee Bee, giving owner J P McManus the top three rated two-mile novice hurdlers.
Aintree specialist Al Eile, trained in Ireland by John Queally, recorded a historic third victory in the Grade One Scottish And Newcastle Pub Enterprises Aintree Hurdle, which moved him up to 165 in the staying hurdlers’ category. That moves him two pounds ahead of Grade Two John Smith's Great Float Social Club Liverpool Hurdle winner, the Alan King-trained Blazing Bailey.
Third in the latter contest was Inglis Drever, winner of three World Hurdles at Cheltenham, and he heads the list on 172. Like Tidal Bay, he is trained by Howard Johnson and owned by Graham and Andrea Wylie, giving connections two awards this year. Inglis Drever was regaining his crown, having been champion in the 2004/05 season on 163.
The two-mile champion title goes to Ireland in the shape of Sizing Europe, whose season came to a disappointing end when he was virtually pulled-up at the back of the last flight in the Cheltenham Champion Hurdle after suffering a back injury.
The Henry de Bromhead gelding is rated 167, one ahead of Champion Hurdle winner Katchit. Meanwhile the David Pipe-trained Osana, second to both Katchit at Cheltenham and Al Eile at Aintree, is third best on 165.
Andrew Tulloch, Clerk of the Course and Director of Racing at Aintree, commented: “It is immensely satisfying to see so many horses that participated at the John Smith’s Grand National meeting prominent in the 2008 Anglo-Irish National Hunt Classifications. Aintree would like to thank and offer its congratulations to the connections of all the horses involved.
“With the significant increases in prize money to the John Smith’s Grand National meeting in recent seasons, Aintree is able to attract the very best horses from Britain, Ireland and France.
“Tidal Bay’s victory in the John Smith’s Maghull Novices’ Chase was a particularly impressive performance and we look forward to seeing more of him at Aintree in the future.
“Pettifour’s success in the Citroen C5 Sefton Novices’ Hurdle meant that he was rated the best staying novice hurdler of the season. This is the first time that an Aintree winner has taken that honour and we are obviously very pleased.”
Aintree races again this Friday evening (May 16), with the first of seven races due off at 5.30pm. An amazing 268 horses have been entered for Friday’s races and competitive racing is assured.
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