Good morning punters of Britain. Having visited Aintree for the first time yesterday, the Major offers you his field report. Plus, we have a Sunday selection to finish the week on a high.
Grand National day at Aintree is a spectacle. There is no other word for it. It has a different feel to both Royal Ascot and the Cheltenham Festival.
For a start it is more down to earth. The people attending are mainly local, there is less of an Irish contingent (they are sorely missed), the Majors perception on this may have been tainted by the fact that we were in Tatts.
We stood on the mound, a fair furlong fropm the finish. An elevated concrete hill with little rules and regulation. It offers an OK view of racing but it is so busy that moving from bar, to bookie to viewpoint required operational planning.
If the people are common, they make a fine effort and their decked out attire demonstrated how seriously the people of Liverpool treat the day as an opportunity to dress up and have bloody good fun.
The men dress in grey suits with black ties, very 1964, dapper. The women are in a range of summer and party outfits. They ranged from orange strumpets whose candour, decibel levels and diction betray their education to some wanton sorts clearly out for a good time. No tweed on site, with the notable exception of one squire who looked remarkably dapper in his gun club attire.
By the end of the day more than half are roaring drunk. There are rivers of booze, empty bottles and other detritus rolling down the mound. One fight almost broke out but was diffused. Overall these people come for a bloody good time and if it sounds like the last days of Rome, well that’s not far from the case and good on them. As the Major preaches, you get just the one bus ticket my friends, ensure you take a moment to enjoy the spoils.
As a vantage point, I found sight lines surprisingly poor. That is not what people were there to do it seems. The crowd on national day is huge. It meant that I didn’t get to see much of Aintree. Next year, I am going to go on the Thursday or Friday to get a better appreciation of what the course offers. Local knowledge is crucial – Mr Garner, thank you for th travel advice Maghull station worked like a charm.
The racing was superb. Finians Rainbow won as the Major expected it too. Sam Winner was less rewarding, not sure all is well with that one. Geraghty and Henderson claimed a quick double with Spirit Son looking impressive. Oscar Whisky was dominant but how much that form line can be trusted is anyones guess. Thousand Stars is hardly a glorious yardstick, well done to Geraghty again though who got down to business well to settle the matter. In our group, this was a winner even if not for the Major, some of the ladies were beting on any descendents of the fine sire Oscar in memory of a deceased pet (I think) while Messrs Reilly an increasingly impressive gentlemen gambler had loaded his cannons, well done sir.
Bensalem was game but couldn’t haul in the others. Then it was time for the big one.
At least Arbor Supreme was in the race going onto the last circuit. Our selection was pulled up with around 8 obstacles to go. Great to see so many horses involved and fair play to Jason Maguire whose first consideraion was the winner Ballabriggs who he dismounted in strides of the winning pst and led back to the winners enclosure.
If you think shop bookmakers are stingy on national day, some of the on course boys are verging on outright criminal activity. I saw plenty of them offering 1/6 a place! Ouch.
We arrived at the bumper without victory. Regular brave followers know the highs and lows of punting glory. It is what we are in it for. This is why I mentioned Messrs Reilly who gets it. Yesterday he walked away with a roll that would choke a donkey. What impresses is not the winnings or picking winners, it is the understanding of what gambling is about. He stakes more than he should, he reaps the rewards. Messr Redmond, equally impressive, though less profitable. Men who know how to lose in the same way they know what the sweet taste of watching Paul Carberry sat motionless half way down the field as those around him reach for their sheleighly frantically urging their beasts on, watching your man come wide still like a statue, he hasn’t played his hand yet, oh you cool bastard, then, a little squeeze, a tap on the shoulder, the button is pressed and Steps to Freedom swoops to win comfortably. The betting pool was reinvested in at the last to ensure we had a chance of winning on the day. What impressed me most was the mens decision to take this on the nose. The enemy was not happy, particularly as the Major insisted on no Scottish notes! The chaps were delighted, a bundle of notes each to carry to Liverpool and throw at the dancing girls.
The Grand National meeting is worth going to. The attendees are down to earth and in party spirit. It is a young affair, next year a quieter day.
3.45 Leopardstown – Group 3 P W McGrath Memorial Ballysax Stakes
Let us see. Predergast, Oxx and O’Brien are all in good touch, so trainer form looks hot for this Group 3. The sole exception is Jim Bolger, whose last two weeks have returned no winners from 27 runners. O’Brien has 3 of the runners today.
It is nice to see Murtagh, now not tied to Ballydoyle riding horses from a wide range of stables. He is aboard John Oxx’s Adilapour, a general 9/1 shot. This one may have needed the reappearance run.
Recital is the red hot favourite. It won a Group 1 in November and it looked very impressive doing so. A talented animal. 8/11, is that fair? Well he does boast the best form on show, trainer form is not an issue. Montjeu sorts prefer a little juice in the ground, but genuine good to firm probably won’t stop him.
I am tempted by Paddypowers 9/1 on Adilapour who I suspect might strip fit for today.
What to do.
On balance, while it is hard to judge how these animals have wintered when for many this is their first run of the year, I am going to do the obvious and have a slice of Recital. 8/11 is fair. Load a cannon. For the brave, reverse forecast with Adilapour.