North West Masters 2009  

Haydock Park

Aintree Racecourse

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Northwest Racing Masters 2009

This weekend, yesterday Saturday and today Sunday, November 21 and 22, 2009, makes up the fifth Northwest Racing Masters which has thrilling top-class horseracing at two of Britain’s best racecourses, Haydock Park and Aintree.

The Northwest Racing Masters, from the first running in 2005, has established itself as a tremendous event, giving racegoers the opportunity of experiencing two different historic courses within a short journey of each other - Haydock Park, between Manchester and Liverpool and close to St Helens, Wigan and Warrington, and Aintree on the northern edge of Liverpool and not far from Southport.

Kauto Star

Kauto Star
The racing is superb over the two days, with yesterday’s £200,000 Grade One Betfair Chase at Haydock Park being one of the best races seen for a long time as Kauto Star just edged out Imperial Commander by a fraction in a tremendous battle to the line, while Aintree has two excellent contests over the world-famous Grand National course among six races on day two, the £100,000 Becher Chase and the £70,000 totesuper7 Grand Sefton Chase.

This year’s renewal of the Betfair Chase was a cracker. The outstanding chaser of recent years, Kauto Star, claimed a third victory in the race but the Paul Nicholls-trained nine-year-old had to be at his bravest as Imperial Commander launched a very strong challenge which only just failed in a thrilling finish.

Day two of the Northwest Racing Masters at Aintree today, Sunday, November 22, features the £100,000 Listed Becher Handicap Chase, which give horses the chance to test their John Smith’s Grand National credentials over the Grand National fences. Last year, Black Apalachi revelled on the heavy ground to score a convincing victory over the 2007 winner Mr Pointment and the Dessie Hughes-trained chaser was leading the John Smith’s Grand National prior to unseating Denis O’Regan at Becher’s Brook in the second circuit. Hughes bids for a second successive victory in the Becher Handicap Chase with his smart performer Vic Venturi, who was placed in Grade One company as a novice chaser and comfortably won a Clonmel chase on his seasonal return at the end of October.

Nigel Twiston-Davies, the only current handler to have won the John Smith’s Grand National on two occasions, is represented by last year’s John Smith’s Topham Chase victor Irish Raptor and Hello Bud, who won the Scottish Grand National at Ayr in April. The Charlie Longsdon-trained Palypso De Creek, a Grade Three winner over Auteuil’s fences for former handler Jehan Bertran de Balanda, the Donald McCain-trained Idle Talk, Keenan’s Future, another Irish challenger Cleni Boy and the Howard Johnson-trained Royal Rosa are the other runners. The second race over the Grand National fences today is the £70,000 totesuper7 Grand Sefton Handicap Chase, which has attracted 11 runners.

Aintree’s raceday has one of the warmest, friendliest family atmospheres with Christmas activities marking the start of a very special season - including a visit from Santa and his real reindeer.

Emma Owen, Marketing & PR Manager at Aintree, remarked: “Day two of the Northwest Racing Masters at Aintree features two races over the Grand National fences, including the Becher Chase which has proved to be a significant pointer to the John Smith's Grand National itself since its inception in 1992.

“Our thanks go to the tote for sponsoring that race again and the other contest over the Grand National fences, the
totesuper7 Grand Sefton Handicap Chase.

“The day also offers fun and activities for all members of the family, while the start of the festive season ensures a tremendous atmosphere complete with Santa and his reindeer!”

George Primarolo of the tote said: “The Northwest Racing Masters has established itself as one of the main festivals in the National Hunt calendar and the racing at both Haydock and Aintree is nothing short of top-class.

“We are proud to have sponsored the Becher Chase since 1998 and in that time the race has grown both in stature and in value. It has also become one of the most important Grand National trials of the year with two winners of the race having gone on to win the big one in April in the shape of Amberleigh House and Silver Birch.”


Northwest Racing Masters Meeting

Saturday, November 21, 2009

12:25pm New Download At Betfair Casino Novices' Hurdle (Listed) 2m 110y £27,500
12:55pm Betfair Mobile Handicap Chase (0-140) 2m £25,000
1:25pm Tune Into Timeform Radio Hurdle 2m 110y £50,000
1:55pm Betfair Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race 2m 110y £7,500
2:25pm Timeform Betfair Racing Club “Fixed Brush” Handicap Hurdle (Listed) 3m 1f £100,000
3pm Betfair Chase (Grade One) 3m £200,000
3:30pm Betfair Racing Multiples Handicap Chase (0-145) 3m £35,000

Sunday, November 22, 2009

12:05pm Weatherbys Bank Maiden Hurdle 2m 110y £8,000
12:35pm totesuper7 Grand Sefton Handicap Chase GNC 2m 5f 110y £70,000
1:10pm Best Odds Guaranteed At Handicap Hurdle 2m 4f £30,000
1:45pm Becher Handicap Chase (Listed) GNC 3m 2f £100,000
2:20pm Aintree Equestrian Centre Handicap Chase (0-125) 3m 1f £12,000
2:55pm Christmas Party At Aintree Novices' Handicap Hurdle (0-120) 2m 4f £10,000




Year Horse Owner Trainer Age/Weight Jockey SP RAN
2005 Kingscliff Arnie Sendell Robert Alner 8-11-08 Robert Walford 8/1 7
2006 Kauto Star Clive Smith Paul Nicholls 6-11-08 Ruby Walsh 11/10F 6
2007 Kauto Star Clive Smith Paul Nicholls 7-11-07 Sam Thomas 4/5F 7
2008 Snoopy Loopy Walters Plant Hire/Egan Waste Peter Bowen 10-11-07 Seamus Durack 33/1 6



In the space of just four years, the Betfair Chase has established itself as one of the highlights of the jumping calendar. The three-mile race, for the leading staying chasers, represents the first real test of the season for any horse with aspirations of joining the elite of jump racing.

Highlight of the first day of the Northwest Racing Masters, the Betfair Chase is run over three miles at Haydock Park and is worth £200,000, making it one of the most valuable contests of the season.

The inaugural Betfair Chase in 2005 attracted a superb field of seven, headed by Kicking King, whose four Grade One victories the previous season had included triumphs in both the King George VI Chase at Kempton and the Cheltenham Gold Cup.

Further Irish interest came courtesy of Beef Or Salmon, who had become a standing dish in his homeland’s top chases, with six Grade One victories to his name, while the British challenge was headed by Ollie Magern and Kingscliff, who had fought out the finish to the Grade Two Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby the previous month.

Connections were also given the chance to gain the lucrative Betfair Million, which rewarded horses who went on to further glory in top chases later in the season. The bonus was the largest incentive in jump racing and one of the few to have been landed in recent years.

With the field well bunched turning for home, Kingscliff bravely repelled the efforts of the staying-on Beef Or Salmon and Kicking King to give the Robert Alner-trained chaser a deserved success at the highest level.

Royal Auclair, trained by Paul Nicholls and sporting the golf course-inspired silks of Clive Smith, came home fifth in 2005 and the same owner/trainer returned to Haydock Park 12 months later with the rising star Kauto Star.

The French import had already announced himself as a top-class chaser with victory over two miles in the previous season’s Grade One Tingle Creek Chase and went into the Betfair Chase on the back of a facile success in the Grade Two Old Roan Chase at Aintree.

Relishing the step up to three miles in the Betfair Chase, Kauto Star posted an imperious display of jumping under Ruby Walsh to record an impressive 17-length victory over Beef Or Salmon, with French raider L’Ami another length back in third.

Kauto Star dropped back down to two miles to successfully defend his crown in the Tingle Creek Chase before surviving a last fence blunder to win the King George VI Chase at Kempton. He also blundered his way to victory in the Grade Two AON Chase at Newbury and went on to land the £1-million Betfair Bonus with success over Exotic Dancer in the totesport Cheltenham Gold Cup.

Despite suffering his first defeat in over 18 months when conceding a stone to Aintree specialist Monet’s Garden in the Old Roan Chase on his seasonal debut, few people expected Kauto Star to be beaten in the 2007 Betfair Chase despite a field that included Exotic Dancer, Beef Or Salmon and My Way De Solzen, who had landed the World Hurdle and the Arkle Chase at the previous two Cheltenham Festivals.

With Sam Thomas stepping in for the injured Ruby Walsh, Kauto Star again failed to jump with his usual fluency but, showing the heart of a champion, found plenty under pressure in the Betfair Chase to beat Exotic Dancer by half a length with Beef Or Salmon in third and My Way De Solzen disappointing back in fifth.

Kauto Star posted a superb seven-length victory in the King George VI Chase but he was denied another bumper pay day at Cheltenham when second to stable companion Denman, who ground his rival into submission with a devastating front-running performance.

Despite the absence of Denman due to an irregular heartbeat, Haydock Park and Betfair were rewarded with another top-class field for last year’s Betfair Chase, including the hat-trick seeking Kauto Star, the previous year’s runner-up Exotic Dancer and Haydock specialist Cloudy Lane, who had been sixth in the previous season’s Grand National.

Kauto Star had posted a facile success on his seasonal return at Down Royal and was expected to wrap up a third Betfair Chase with the minimum of fuss but he made a mistake three fences out and unshipped jockey Sam Thomas making his challenge at the final obstacle.

In a thrilling finish, Tamarinbleu found himself three lengths clear after Kauto Star’s departure but the David Pipe-trained eight-year-old could not repel the gutsy challenge of Snoopy Loopy near the line, who gave jockey Seamus Durack and trainer Peter Bowen the biggest wins of their careers. Exotic Dancer finished third.



Year Horse Owner Trainer Age/Weight Jockey SP RAN
2005 St Matthew Keith Nicholson Sue Smith 7-11-04 Padge Whelan 25/1 14
2006 Halcon Genelardais Ian Payne/Kim Franklin Alan King 6-10-02 Robert Thornton 5/1JF 17
2007 Millenium Royal J Vasicek Francois Doumen FR 7-11-12 Christophe Pieux 20/1 18
2008 According to Pete P Nelson Malcolm Jefferson 7-10-13 Graham Lee 11/2 F 15

NB: the contest was run over traditional hurdles in 2005 and 2006. It was run over Fixed Brush hurdles for the first time in 2007



Trainer Peter Bowen will be hoping for better luck in the 2009 renewal of the £100,000 Timeform Betfair Racing Club "Fixed Brush" Handicap Hurdle.

The Pembrokeshire-based handler has not enjoyed the rub of the green in the past three runnings of the valuable three-mile contest. Irish Wolf was headed near the line by the Alan King-trained Halcon Genelardais in 2006, Special Envoy fell at the last flight when four lengths clear and looking a likely winner in the 2007 renewal which went to France’s Millenium Royal and Souffleur came second to According To Pete last year.

According To Pete was the well-backed 11/2 favourite, who opened at 8/1 on course, and raced at the head of affairs under Graham Lee and put his proven stamina to good use as he galloped clear in the home straight to defeat Souffleur by nine lengths.

The inaugural running in 2005 went to the Sue Smith-trained outsider St Matthew who won under Padge Whelan at odds of 25/1.


over the Grand National Fences

Year Horse Owner Trainer Age/Weight Jockey SP RAN
1992 Kildimo Lady Harris Sue Smith 12-10-03 Lorcan Wyer 9/1 9
1993 Indian Tonic Joanne Richards Nigel Twiston-Davies 7-10-06 Chris Maude 4/1 11
1994 Into The Red John Huckle John White 10-10-04 Richard Guest 13/2 9
1995 Young Hustler Gavin MacEchern Nigel Twiston-Davies 8-12-00 Chris Maude 2/1F 10
1996 Into The Red John Huckle Mary Reveley 12-10-00 Tony Dobbin 9/2 8
1997 Samlee White Lion Partnership Philip Hobbs 8-10-00 Rodney Farrant 6/1 11
1998 Earth Summit The Summit Partnership Nigel Twiston-Davies 10-12-00 Tom Jenks 6/1 8
1999 Feels Like Gold Independent Twine Man. Co Ltd Nicky Richards 11-10-00 Tony Dobbin 9/1 12
2000 Young Kenny Trevor Hemmings Peter Beaumont 9-12-00 Russ Garrity 9/4F 11
2001 Amberleigh House Halewood International Ltd Ginger McCain 9-10-09 Warren Marston 33/1 15
2002 Ardent Scout Alicia Skene & W S Skene Sue Smith 10-9-11 Dominic Elsworth 14/1 15
2003 Clan Royal J P McManus Jonjo O’Neill 8-10-12 Liam Cooper 11/2 15
2004 Silver Birch Des Nichols Paul Nicholls 7-10-01 Ruby Walsh 4/1F 14
2005 Garvivonnian Angela Long Ned Mitchell IRE 10-10-04 Garrett Cotter 33/1 19
2006 Eurotrek Paul Green Paul Nicholls 10-11-07 Liam Heard 25/1 21
2007 Mr Pointment Stockton Heath Racing Paul Nicholls 8-11-05 Sam Thomas 15/2 19
2008 Black Apalachi Gerard Burke Dessie Hughes IRE 9-10-05 Denis O'Regan 15/2 13



The inaugural running in 1992 of the Becher Chase over the Grand National fences went to the Sue Smith-trained Kildimo and the Yorkshire trainer gained a second success a decade later when Ardent Scout prevailed under an excellent ride from Dominic Elsworth to get the better of 2004 John Smith’s Grand National hero Amberleigh House by 24 lengths.

Amberleigh House himself won this prestigious handicap chase in 2001 when driven out by Warren Marston to prevail by two lengths from Smarty. The 2004 Grand National saw previous winners of the Becher Chase fill the first two places as Clan Royal was runner-up to Amberleigh House after being successful in this event by a short-head from that same rival in 2003.

Another Grand National winner to capture the Becher Chase was Earth Summit. Seven months after he had won the world’s most famous chase in 1998, Earth Summit returned to Aintree and defeated the previous year’s Becher Chase winner Samlee by 16 lengths. In addition to saddling Earth Summit, trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies has also won the Becher Chase on two other occasions, courtesy of Indian Tonic in 1993 and Young Hustler two years later. Indian Tonic scored unchallenged by six lengths from Southern Minstrel, while Young Hustler was successful by the same margin from Sir Peter Lely.

Young Kenny was cheered home in 2000 as the market leader, beating subsequent winner Ardent Scout by half a length for popular Yorkshire-based trainer Peter Beaumont. The Ardross gelding fell on his only attempt at the John Smith’s Grand National, but he did win the Scottish version in 1999.

Into The Red is the only dual winner of the Becher Chase so far. He was victorious for trainer John White in 1994, when coming home unchallenged by 15 lengths from Feathered Gale and then, two years later, when under the care of Mary Reveley, he ran on well for Tony Dobbin to score by three and a half lengths and deny 1995 victor Young Hustler successive wins. Tony Dobbin was on the scoresheet again three years later aboard the Nicky Richards-trained Feels Like Gold. The 11-year-old galloped clear of his opponents and eventually won eased down, with Him Of Praise taking the runner-up spot, 11 lengths adrift.

The Paul Nicholls-trained Silver Birch justified favouritism in the 2004 Becher Chase under Ruby Walsh to master Just In Debt by a length in a thrilling renewal. He also captured the Welsh National in 2004 and, after being sold out of Nicholls’ stable for just 20,000 guineas, made one of the greatest comebacks to win the 2007 John Smith’s Grand National for Irish trainer Gordon Elliott.

Ned Mitchell’s Garvivonnian became the first Irish-trained winner of the Becher Chase when taking the contest in November, 2005, at the initial running at the Northwest Racing Masters weekend. He held on in a thrilling finish from the fast-finishing Nicholls-trained Le Duc by three quarters of a length, with Just In Debt a neck away in third.

Nicholls claimed his second win in the Becher Chase in 2006 with Eurotrek, who defied top-weight to defeat Bewleys Berry and 19 others in decisive fashion under Liam Heard, though there was drama after the last when it momentarily looked as if the winning jockey was going to take the wrong course.

The champion trainer was back for more in 2007 when he equalled Nigel Twiston-Davies’ record of three Becher Chase victories by saddling Mr Pointment. The eight-year-old excelled over the Grand National obstacles, beating the previous year’s runner-up Bewleys Berry by a length.

Last year saw a fine front-running performance from Black Apalachi, under Denis O'Regan, who galloped resolutely all the way to the line to secure success in the Becher Chase. The 15/2 chance, trained by Dessie Hughes in Ireland, came home a distance clear of the Mr Pointment in the three and a quarter mile event, with his stablemate Oulart a further half-length back in third. Black Apalachi was the second Irish-trained success in the Becher Chase, following Garvivonnian in 2005.

The Becher Chase attracts plenty of runners, many of whom are having their first start over the Grand National fences and the race is seen as one of the best John Smith’s Grand National trials, with two winners - Amberleigh House and Silver Birch - going on to success in the world’s greatest chase.

Three favourites have prevailed - Young Hustler (1995), Young Kenny (2000) and Silver Birch (2004) - but there have also been three shock results - Amberleigh House was a 33/1 chance in 2001, while Garvivonnian (33/1 - 2005) and Eurotrek (25/1 - 2006) also caused upsets.


Over the Grand National Fences

Year Horse Owner Trainer Age/Weight Jockey SP RAN
2003 Dark Room J P McManus Jonjo O’Neill 6-10-06 Liam Cooper 7/1 11
2004 Forest Gunner John Gilsenan Richard Ford 10-11-02 Peter Buchanan 7/1F 15
2005 Hakim T N Siviter John Spearing 11-10-12 Paddy Brennan 18/1 23
2006 I Hear Thunder Nick Elliott Bob Buckler 8-11-02 Daryl Jacob 12/1 20
2007 Lampion Du Bost The Dodoz Partnership Jim Goldie 8-9-11 Phil Kinsella 66/1 22
2008 Endless Power Fyffees Jim Goldie 8-10-00 James Reveley 11/1 13



The totesuper7 Grand Sefton has attracted good fields since its revival six years ago after a 38-year break. The handicap chase is run over one circuit of the Grand National course, with 18 fences jumped during the two miles, five and a half furlongs. The old Grand Sefton took place over further - just under three miles - and ceased after the 1965 renewal, which was won by The Fossa.

The totesuper7 Grand Sefton Chase was re-established in 2003. Well-known Irish owner J P McManus saw his famous green and gold colours carried to victory by the Jonjo O’Neill-trained Dark Room. Partnered by Liam Cooper, the six-year-old was one of eight in with a chance jumping the final fence and kept on best of all after the elbow to score by three lengths from Scotmail Boy.

The Richard Ford-trained Forest Gunner, under claimer Peter Buchanan, scored the following year. The winner had earlier taken the John Smith’s Fox Hunters’ Chase at the John Smith’s Grand National meeting when ridden by the trainer’s wife, Carrie. That pairing subsequently finished fifth in the 2005 John Smith’s Grand National, equalling Rosemary Henderson’s highest-placed finish by a woman in the race.

The 2005 renewal of the totesuper7 Grand Sefton was the first under the umbrella of the Northwest Racing Masters. The John Spearing-trained Hakim took the honours. Paddy Brennan soon had his mount out in front and Hakim jumped for fun. He stayed on gamely to defeat Fiori by two and a half lengths.

There were 20 runners in the 2006 contest which went the way of the Bob Buckler-trained I Hear Thunder, a 12/1 chance, who jumped well and stayed on strongly for then conditional jockey Daryl Jacob to come home seven lengths clear of Shannon’s Pride. Hakim, attempting to land the race for a second year in a row, again tried to make all the running, but this time got no further than the eighth fence.

The race was even more popular in 2007 when 22 lined up before the starter. There was a shock result as 66/1-chance Lampion Du Bost, ridden by Phil Kinsella and trained by Jim Goldie in Scotland for the Dodoz Partnership, which included ex-Scotland striker Billy Dodds, won on merit, jumping exemplarily.

There were shades of the famous finish to the 1973 Grand National between Crisp and Red Rum as 11/1 chance Endless Power tired rapidly after the last in the 2008 totesuper7 Grand Sefton Handicap Chase
However, the leader held on by two and a half lengths from Brooklyn Brownie under 3lb conditional James Reveley for Goldie, gaining a second Grand Sefton success. The winner jumped for fun over the famous fences, soon built up a commanding advantage and was still around 15 lengths in front over the last.


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