Marsh Melling Chase
|Grade 1, Aintree 15:30
2m 3f 200y, Class 1
1 Fakir D'Oudairies 10/11F
2 Hitman 11/1
3 Sceau Royal 18/1
10 ran Distances: 5½l, 3l, 3½l
Time: 4m 57.48s (slow by 5.48s)
Having won at Ascot last time out, O’Brien decided to skip a clash with Allaho in the Ryanair at Cheltenham so Fakir D’Oudairies could arrive on Merseyside fresh.
Sent off the heavily-backed 10-11 favourite, Mark Walsh appeared to be in the ideal position throughout.
Editeur Du Gite set a stiff enough gallop for a horse stepping up in trip, but the big guns began queuing up behind as they turned into the straight.
Paint The Dream took over seemingly going well, although eyes were drawn to both the market leader and Hitman.
On the run to the second-last Hitman and Lorcan Williams appeared to be travelling the stronger, but the picture soon changed.
Fakir D’oudiaires quickened impressively when asked and sprinted clear for a five-and-a-half-length win. Sceau Royal was back in third.
O’Brien said: “I’m delighted with that. Mark gave him a great ride and he’s been a great servant to us that horse over a number of years. Hopefully he’ll be around another few years yet.
“I have to see the race again, but it’s as good a performance as he’s put up I’d say.
“I think there’s no doubt it was a deeper race this year and I was surprised he was as short a price as he was, to be honest.
“We’ll see about Punchestown. He doesn’t owe us anything this year, so we’ll take him home and discuss it with JP (McManus) and Frank (Berry). I wouldn’t be much either way at the moment.”
He added: “It’s great to come here and have a winner. It’s a special week and we’re lucky to have good support and nice horses.”
Paul Nicholls said of Hitman and Saint Calvados (fifth): “We’ve always held him (Hitman) in high regard and thought of him as a Frodon or a Clan (Des Obeaux). He’s a work in progress. That was a career-best run, and I think there will be more to come.
“He hasn’t raced much this season and he could run again, at either Punchestown or Sandown.
“Saint Calvados looks like he wants three miles. He’s the sort that could go really well at Kempton in the King George. I will send him to the Oaksey Chase at Sandown now.”
Marsh Melling Chase
£250,000 guaranteed, 5yo plus, 2m 3f 200y, Class 1
Going: Good to Soft
POS. DIST HORSE AGE WGT TRAINER JOCKEY SP
1 Fakir D'Oudairies 7 11-7 Joseph O'Brien Mark Walsh 10/11F
2 5½ Hitman 6 11-7 Paul Nicholls Bryony Frost 11/1
3 3 Sceau Royal 10 11-7 Alan King Daryl Jacob1 8/1
4 3½ Paint The Dream 8 11-7 Fergal O'Brien Connor Brace 28/1
5 1½ Saint Calvados 9 11-7 Paul Nicholls Harry Cobden 10/1
6 20 Captain Guinness 7 11-7 Henry De Bromhead Rachael Blackmore 15/2
7 16 Allmankind 6 11-7 Dan Skelton Harry Skelton 11/1
PU Mister Fisher 8 11-7 Nicky Henderson James Bowen 14/1
PU Editeur Du Gite 8 11-7 Gary Moore Joshua Moore 25/1
PU Funambule Sivola 7 11-7 Venetia Williams Charlie Deutsch 11/1
Melling Chase - Previous Winners
2021 Fakir D'Oudairies
2020 ABANDONED due to Covid-19
2017 Fox Norton
2016 God's Own
2015 Don Cossack
2014 Boston Bob
2013 Sprinter Sacre Caroline Mould Nicky Henderson 07-11-10 Barry Geraghty 1/3F
2012 Finian’s Rainbow Michael Buckley Nicky Henderson 09-11-10 Barry Geraghty 13/8F
2011 Master Minded Clive Smith Paul Nicholls 08-11-10 Ruby Walsh 11/2