Racehorse Lotto Manifesto Novices' Chase
Grade 1, Aintree 13:45
£120,000 guaranteed,
5yo plus,
2m 3f 200y, Class 1   
Thursday 13th April 2023

Boylesports

1 Banbridge 2/1
2 Saint Roi 3/1
3 Visionarian 14/1
5 ran Distances: 1½l, 4¾l, 6l
Time: 4m 59.24s (slow by 7.24s)

Banbridge struck Grade One gold in the opening race of the Grand National meeting at Aintree after swerving this season's Cheltenham Festival.

Winner of the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Hurdle at Cheltenham last season, Joseph O’Brien’s charge subsequently failed to fire on Merseyside – but it was a very different story 12 months on.

Banbridge made an excellent start to his career over fences in the autumn, winning at Gowran and Cheltenham, and after being placed in the Drinmore and the Irish Arkle the seven-year-old was due to contest the Turners’ Novices’ Chase at the Festival but was taken out due to unsuitable ground.

With that freshness advantage perhaps key, the 2-1 shot raced on the heels of the Turners’ Novices’ Chase winner Stage Star for much of the two-and-a-half-mile journey before taking over halfway up the straight in the hands of JJ Slevin.

Saint Roi came from further back in an attempt to launch a challenge after the final fence, but Banbridge was always doing enough in front and passed the post with a length and a half in hand. 

Stage Star, the 6-4 favourite, weakened to finish last of the five runners.

BetGoodwiin

O’Brien said: “JJ gave him a lovely ride and it’s great to come here with a fresh horse. He was a little bit sticky over the first couple, normally he’s quite exuberant but he was a little bit slow. Once he got into his rhythm he was lovely.

“We took him to Cheltenham early in the season to get experience and then we ended up missing it (Festival), but that’s the way it goes.

“We ran him in the Drinmore and we knew he was just a much better horse on better ground so there was no point in wasting runs on heavy ground. 

“I think we probably saw the result of minding him earlier in the spring today. It was beautiful ground today, on the easy side but perfect spring ground.

“We declared on Saturday just in case the rain came and I wanted to walk the track. He won’t run.

“We’ll look at Punchestown. There’s no race over two and a half but while he could stay further in time, I’d imagine it might be back at two miles there because he’s not slow. Two would be more likely but I don’t know yet.”

Of the Willie Mullins-trained Saint Roi, Frank Berry, racing manager to owner JP McManus, said: “He was a little bit keen, but jumped well bar one.

“There were no excuses, he was good at the last and Mark said it was lovely ground.

“He’s entered at Punchestown and Willie will decide if he goes there.”

QuinnBet

Manifesto Novices' Chase
£120,000 guaranteed, 5yo plus, 2m 3f 200y, Class 1
5 ran
Going: Good to Soft, Good in places

POS. DIST HORSE AGE WGT TRAINER JOCKEY SP
1     Banbridge 7 11-7 Joseph O'Brien J J Slevin 2/1
2 Saint Roi 8 11-7 W P Mullins Mark Walsh 3/1
3 Visionarian 8 11-7 Peter Fahey Keith Donoghue 14/1
4 6 Straw Fan Jack 8 11-7 Sheila Lewis Sean Houlihan 28/1
5 Stage Star 7 11-7 Paul Nicholls Harry Cobden 6/4F

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