Betway Top Novices' Hurdle
Grade 2, Aintree 14:20
£100,000 added,
4yo plus,
2m 103y, Class 1  
Friday 13th April 2018

1 Lalor 14/1
2 Vision Des Flos 11/4
3 Bedrock 33/1
13 ran NR: Irish Roe, Simply The Betts Distances: 2½l, ¾l, 9l
Time: 4m 15.80s (slow by 22.80s)

Lalor wins the Top Novices' Hurdle!

© Racehorse Photos
Lalor, who was bought and trained by the late Richard Woollacott, paid him a fitting tribute when winning today's G1 Betway Top Novices' Hurdle.
Ridden by Richard Johnson, he became a first Grade One winner for Woollacott's widow, Kayley, who took over the trainer's licence after her husband took his life in January. Twelve months ago today Lalor won the Weatherbys Private Bank Bumper which closes the card, and he has the size and scope to win at Aintree over fences in the future.
The winning trainer, stifling tears and waves of emotion, said: "It's unbelievable - I don't know how that just happened. It's an emotional day, but I had a little help from up above.
"This was a really special horse for me and Richard. We loved the horse from the moment he came to our yard.
"He will jump fences one day. He is a chaser in the making. Richard went to look at him at [trainer] Stewart Kittow's and came back and said 'I've got to have this horse - we've got to find a way of having him'. He was big, beautiful, a bit gormless, backward, but lovely, and we've always been excited about him.
"Richard [Johnson] came back in and said the track and the two long straights really suit him. He jumped much better than in the Betfair Hurdle at Newbury. We've done a lot of schooling since then and he loves it here.
"The horse has kept everything going, and me on the straight and narrow. Having horses like him in the yard make you want to do it, and the owners [Mr and Mrs David Staddon] have stuck by me and been so loyal and so good. It's worked out.
"I did say earlier I just want to go home. Racing is one of the toughest games, but over the last few months it has also shown how supportive it can be. They [racing people] really get behind you and help you, and have helped me find my feet.
"I thought that if he had run and been beaten today we would have a novice for next season and with plenty of experience - now we will have to go back to the drawing board."
A delighted Johnson said: "We were slightly concerned about the ground being soft for Lalor and he won at the meeting last year on good ground.
"He has run some nice races this year, but didn't really perform in the Betfair Hurdle [finished 13th] last time.
"However, if you forget about that run, he had every chance. He has come back here and proved himself.
"The course here really suits him, as it allows him to get into a nice rhythm.
"He stays well and when I got to the front at two out, I thought he would keep galloping as he is so straightforward.
"It is hard to put it into words [how special this is]. Lalor was Richard's first big winner literally on this day last year, so for the horse to come here and do it again for the family in Richard's memory is fantastic.
"It was very sad what happened to Richard and a shock to everyone full stop. Lalor is the horse that got them going and hopefully he can keep their name in lights for a long time to come.
"With the way things have worked out, I haven't sat on Lalor since this day last year. We said, tongue in cheek, that it would lovely to repeat last year's performance today, so I said that I would ride him realistically in the same sort of way - reasonably handy, with a bit of room, because he is a very big horse and stays really well."

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Top Novices' Hurdle (Grade 2)
£100,000 added, 4yo plus, 2m 103y, Class 1
13 ran
Going: Soft

Pos Dist Horse SP Jockey Weight Trainer Age
1st Lalor (GER) 14/1 R Johnson
Kayley Woollacott 6
2nd Vision Des Flos (FR) 11/4 R M Power
C L Tizzard 5
3rd ¾ Bedrock 33/1 Ross Chapman
I Jardine 5
4th 9 Mind's Eye (IRE) 16/1 D N Russell
H de Bromhead 6
5th nk Coolanly (IRE) 40/1 P J Brennan
F O'Brien 6
6th nk Global Citizen (IRE) 5/2f D A Jacob
B Pauling 6
7th hd Midnight Shadow 25/1 Danny Cook
Mrs S J Smith 5
8th 14 Slate House (IRE) 10/1 Harry Cobden
C L Tizzard 6
9th 6 Scarlet Dragon 11/1 Wayne Hutchinson
A King 5
10th 9 Ornua (IRE) 33/1 N D Fehily
H de Bromhead 7
11th 11 Impact Factor (IRE) 8/1 M P Walsh
Mrs J Harrington 6
PU Distingo (IRE) 40/1 Joshua Moore
G L Moore 5
PU Style De Garde (FR) 8/1 Nico de Boinville
N J Henderson 4
NR Simply The Betts (IRE) Sean Bowen
H Whittington 5
NR Irish Roe (IRE) Henry Brooke
P Atkinson 7