Melling Chase Friday 13th April 2012 

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Finian's Rainbow Sparkles in Melling Chase

1 Finian's Rainbow 13/8F
2 Wishfull Thinking 15/2
3 Albertas Run 11/4
8 ran Distances: 7l, 13l, 1¼l
TIME 5m 3.80s (slow by 15.80s)

Finian’s Rainbow was one of Nicky Henderson’s magnificent seven at the Cheltenham Festival and Michael Buckley’s lightly-raced nine-year-old followed up his Queen Mother Champion Chase victory with a seven-length win in the John Smith’s Melling Chase.

Finian’s Rainbow
© Racehorse Photos

Finian’s Rainbow

His delighted trainer said: “Last year as a novice, Finian’s Rainbow was trying to do everything in a terrible rush. He was only quieter here last year because he had had such a hard race in the Arkle at Cheltenham.
He grew up last summer for some reason and seemed to become a sensible person. This season has been a much more amenable horse all the way through, doing everything as he should rather than as quickly as possible.

“You always hoped he would stay, but obviously last year he looked an out-and-out two-miler because he was doing everything in such a rush, but today he was always in a nice position and when Barry (Geraghty, jockey) switched him on he picked them up very quickly.

“We’ve got all summer to think about what route we take next year, but he has won the Champion Chase and the Melling Chase so he goes to bed with all the medals.”

Michael Buckley, who also counts Solix and Spirit River among his horses in training with Henderson, commented: “Finian’s Rainbow is a pretty special horse. I wasn’t concerned about stepping up to two and a half miles as he is very relaxed now and acts like the stayer we always thought he would be.

“That was really thrilling. He’s had his doubters but I hope that’s been put to sleep now. He was very keen last year and the year before and that made him difficult to ride and also for him to see out the trip.

“He became a much more amenable creature over the summer and you could go up to him in the field whereas before he’d always walk away from you.

“We always thought that if he settled he’d stay more than two miles. I think he out-stayed Sizing Europe up the hill at Cheltenham. I don’t agree with the opinion that it was only the fact that they bypassed the last fence that enabled him to win.

“Now we have lots of options for next year and we’ll maybe even try three miles at some point. As he gets older he’s inevitably going to want a longer trip if he can get it.”

Asked whether Finian’s Rainbow would take up his entry in the Punchestown Champion Chase on April 24, Buckley added: “I did say to Nicky that if he was to win easily here that maybe we could go to Ireland and duff up Sizing Europe again but there was a big groan at the other end of the telephone. I’m sure that will be it now for him for this season but he does have very few miles on the clock - he’s only raced 14 times in his life.”


Starting Price
Beaten Distance
Finian's Rainbow
N J Henderson
B J Geraghty
11st 10lbs
13 - 8
Wishfull Thinking
P J Hobbs
R Johnson
11st 10lbs
15 - 2
7 lengths
Albertas Run
Jonjo O'Neill
A P McCoy
11st 10lbs
11 - 4
13 lengths
T Cooper
Bryan J Cooper
11st 10lbs
12 - 1
1 1/4 length
Pure Faith
P Bowen
T J O'Brien
11st 10lbs
80 - 1
6 lengths
P F Nicholls
R Walsh
11st 10lbs
5 - 1
13 lengths
Kauto Stone
P F Nicholls
P Carberry
11st 10lbs
12 - 1
1/2 length
Kalahari King
Ferdy Murphy
N Fehily
11st 10lbs
33 - 1



Jockey Barry Geraghty was delighted with Finian’s Rainbow after easily winning the John Smith’s Melling Chase aboard the nine-year-old.

“He made one or two mistakes early on and I’d say the ground had gone a bit soft for him,” said Geraghty. “He’s settling better these days and therefore he’s finishing his races better.

“He really came alive in the straight today and he won well. It was a good Champion Chase that he won at Cheltenham and I’m delighted he showed today that he wasn’t a lucky winner in that race.”


Wishfull Thinking, who took a dramatic fall when leading the field early in the race for the Queen Mother Champion Chase at Cheltenham, produced his best performance of the season when chasing home the two-mile champion Finian’s Rainbow in today John Smith’s Melling Chase.

“Delighted with that,” said trainer Philip Hobbs. “The winner is a very good horse. It’s taken us all season to get ours back to his best, though goodness knows why. It’s been a bit of a frustrating season all round but it seems to be coming together now.”

At Cheltenham, Wishfull Thinking fell sideways through the rails after the fence, but the incident did not affect his confidence as he jumped straight and true today. “We had him schooling soon after Cheltenham and he was absolutely fine,” added Hobbs.

Wishfull Thinking won at the Punchestown festival last year after taking the Manifesto Novices’ Chase at Aintree. “We’ll see how he is before we decide whether to go again,” said Hobbs, “There’s not so long between the meetings this year.”

Hobbs, who took this year’s Manifesto Novices’Chase on Thursday with Menorah (like Wishfull Thinking owned by Diana Whateley), reports his Somerset stable’s John Smith’s Grand National candidate Planet Of Sound in good form. “The drying ground will help him,” he said.


Brave Albertas Run, who was bidding for a second win in this Grade One contest, had to settle for third behind winner Finian’s Rainbow.

Albertas Run won the race in 2010 and was second to Master Minded last year, and while he was beaten 27 lengths by the winner today it may prove to have been his gutsiest performance in the contest.

Trainer Jonjo O’Neill fears the 11-year-old may have been feeling an injury that has troubled him in the past, for he said: “His old problem, a touch of a leg, was probably just bothering him.”

Albertas Run gave his all when a close second to Finian’s Rainbow in the Ryanair Chase at Cheltenham, but O’Neill did not believe that had left its mark on his performance today.

O’Neill said: “He didn’t jump as well as he can do and he was never really looking like the winner. He’s run well enough and done us all proud, but he won’t run again this season. In three runs this year he’s finished first, second and third, so we’ve no complaints.”

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