During the 5f novice at Windsor, a bizarre incident occurred when a goose flew onto the track and collided with one of the runners.
As Tears Of A Clown led up the four-runner field, a goose flew across the track towards the leader, causing Rhiain Ingram, the rider of Tears Of A Clown, to brace for impact. However, the goose quickly turned and moved in the path of the Eve Johnson Houghton-trained Revenue, who collided with it. The incident caused the runners to swerve, and they were wide apart, with Revenue having to be pushed along.
Tears Of A Clown remained unaffected by the incident and continued to stay widest of all, while the other runners swerved towards the inside. The front-runner managed to stay clear of the pack, winning the race by a comfortable five-length lead, while Revenue could only manage third place.
Commentator Richard Hoiles exclaimed, “We’ve collected a goose along the way there,” highlighting the unusual and unexpected nature of the incident.
The Grand National is the most famous steeplechase in the world, attracting millions of viewers and punters each year. As the event approaches, there is always a lot of speculation about which horses are most likely to win, and which factors are the most important for success. In this article, we will examine some of the key trends from recent years and discuss which horses might be best positioned to win in 2023.
Age has been a key factor in recent Grand Nationals, with six of the last seven winners being either eight or nine years old. This bodes well for horses such as Corach Rambler, Le Milos, Longhouse Poet, Our Power, and last year’s winner Noble Yeats, who was the first seven-year-old to win the race since before World War II. While it is possible for horses outside this age range to win, recent history suggests that younger or older horses may struggle.
Weight is another important consideration, and top weight has not won the race this century. Ted Walsh, the trainer of Any Second Now, has been critical of the weight allocated to his horse, who has finished third and second in the last two runnings. Walsh’s horse is off 11st 12lb, while Noble Yeats and Galvin carry just 1lb less. At the other end of the scale, no winner has carried less than 10st 3lb since Bobbyjo in 1999, which could be a concern for horses such as Hill Sixteen, Gabbys Cross, Recite A Prayer, Eva’s Oscar, and Our Power.
Form is always a crucial factor in the Grand National, and recent history suggests that winners tend to have won a race earlier in the season. Seven of the last nine winners had already won a race before Aintree, which is not a good sign for horses like Mr Incredible, Vanillier, Lifetime Ambition, Royal Pagaille, Roi Mage, The Big Breakaway, The Shunter, and Mister Coffey. However, three of the last five winners came into Aintree off the back of a win, which could bode well for Corach Rambler, Delta Work, Gaillard Du Mesnil, Any Second Now, Longhouse Poet, Our Power, Ain’t That A Shame, and Coko Beach.
Experience over the National fences is often seen as a key advantage, but recent history suggests that this is not necessarily the case. Nine of the last twelve winners had never run around the Grand National track, including the winners of the last two runnings. This could be a positive sign for horses like Corach Rambler, Gaillard Du Mesnil, Mr Incredible, Le Milos, and Our Power. However, five of the last ten winners had won over the National fences or recorded a top-six finish in the Coral Gold Cup, Scottish or Irish Nationals. This is a boost for Le Milos and Corach Rambler, who finished first and fourth in Newbury’s Coral Gold Cup in November.
Cheltenham Festival form is always a good indicator of Grand National success, with half of the last ten winners having run at the festival on their final start. Noble Yeats was ninth in the Ultima Handicap Chase en route to success at Aintree, which bodes well for this year’s winner Corach Rambler. Delta Work is attempting to emulate Tiger Roll by following up his win in the Cross Country with victory in the National, something his former stablemate managed in 2018 and 2019. Many Clouds was sixth behind Coneygree in the 2015 Gold Cup before winning the National on his next start, which is encouraging for Noble Yeats, who stayed on for fourth in last month’s Gold Cup.
Our verdict: Corach Rambler
Corach Rambler comes into the race on the back of a back-to-back win in the Ultima Handicap Chase, the same race that Noble Yeats won before taking last year’s National. Trainer Lucinda Russell has a successful track record in the race, having won it in 2017 with One For Arthur. At nine years old and carrying 10st 5lb, Corach Rambler is the right age and weight for success. Although lacking experience over Aintree’s National fences, this is not seen as a negative for the current ante-post market leader. In fact, favourites have had a decent record in the race, with six favourites or joint-favourites winning since 1996, despite the large field size and potential in-running drama.
“He’s made his money for the year, and for next year as well!” exclaimed David Menuisier, the trainer of the seven-year-old Migration, who defied history to win the Lincoln Handicap on the opening day of the turf season.
The burden of running off a higher mark than all the others in the field had been too much for every horse who had tried since 2004, but Migration defied 9st 12lb, less Benoit de la Sayette’s 3lb claim, to win the £150,000 showpiece.
“We felt he was so unlucky in the Balmoral at Ascot, he went along the rail and got blocked. He was running off 109 so I always felt he could win a heritage handicap. We’ve taken our time with him and I genuinely felt we had him spot on,” Menuisier said.
“He’s so lightly raced, he doesn’t have much mileage and he’s been giving us the right signals all the way through. We were actually quite confident,” he added.
Heavy ground might be expected to take its toll on a topweight, but Menuisier said: “He’s a mudlark, he absolutely loves it, so when the others stop he keeps going.
“I was with one of the partners during the race and I said ‘he’s travelling better than everybody else, now it’s going to be a matter of getting the luck to get through’ – and he did. The rest is history really.”
As in the Dubai World Cup last week, Simon and Ed Crisford suffered the agony of being mown down late on with a big prize at stake. Stablemate Awaal was unable to resist Migration seven days on, while Algiers could not cope with Ushba Tesoro at Meydan.
“It’s the name of the game,” Simon Crisford said. “You’ve got to take it on the chin. Awaal has run really well, I’m very happy with him. We’ve got a lovely horse for the rest of the season ahead of us. He likes that ground and we might step him up in distance.”
George Boughey, who trained third-place finisher Baradar, was also pleased with his horse’s performance. “I’m very happy,” he said. “He’s run a big race and I think seven furlongs is his ideal – he bolted up here over seven on this ground. Kevin said he just didn’t quite see it out as well as possibly stouter-bred horses.”
Menuisier has his sights set on bigger prizes for Migration now. “I think this is the end of handicaps and I hope he can go to the next level,” he said. “We’ll have to look for some black type now. We’ll be patient because he runs well fresh and he’s made his money for the year – and for next year as well!”
Betting gives clues to Constitution Hill’s future.
Over the weekend, did we gain any insight into the future of Constitution Hill? I believe we did.
If you’re a regular reader of the Racing Post, you’ll have enjoyed a column David Jennings wrote in the paper on Saturday. In it, he laughed off the idea that the reigning champion hurdler might be sent over fences in the fall. He likes the romantic aspect of the concept, but his conclusion was: “There is not a hope in hell”.
However, DJ did not end there. He persuaded Paddy Power to open a market on the subject, and as the weekend draws to a close, I am surprised to discover that it is still live in their “Horse racing specials” section under the heading: “What Obstacles Will Constitution Hill Run Over On His 1st Start Of The 2023/24 NH Season?”
Evidently, the company’s odds makers believed that my colleague had everything wrong. They used numbers 8-11 to say that the first run would be over fences, and even money said it would be over hurdles. Mr. Jennings said, “I can’t see the evens lasting too long,” and he was right.
When I jabbed my nose in on Sunday morning, the market had a seriously unique look. ‘ Hurdles had dropped to 4-7, while Fences had dropped to 5-4.
Naturally, this is a specials market, but I don’t think it’s one of the most active specials markets. The odds that are available have a healthy over-round, and large stakes are not accepted. Therefore, the significance of what can be deduced from this “plunge” is limited.
I believe we are receiving a lesson in realism that is very similar to what David was preaching in his column. Even though everyone would like to see Constitution Hill tackle fences in the upcoming term, that is not likely to happen. It’s like there are obstacles that need to be overcome along the way.
Paddy Power’s kin maybe focused on the desires of the pony’s proprietor, Michael Buckley, cited last week as saying: “My ambition would be to equal what Dawn Run did and try to win a Gold Cup”. However, I can think of at least two prerequisites before Constitution Hill leaps a fence in public: Nicky Henderson’s way of thinking must be circumvented by Buckley, and the horse must school gracefully over the larger obstacles.
It appears that the two men will chew it up this summer, which should be a lot of fun. Henderson seems pretty stressed out about the actual racing, but there is nothing better than planning for your multitalented champion racehorse and enjoying your options knowing that no final decision will be needed for months.
I picture them sitting down to talk about it over whisky as a hotel in the Caribbean gets darker. I might have been sent after them in the hope of listening in from some nearby armchair in the good old days of expense-account journalism.
In any case, I don’t think it’s a foregone conclusion. The trainer, who is naturally conservative, may be won over by the owner’s argument. It’s a tempting idea to participate in a Dawn Run. Even intoxicating.
However, for Constitution Hill to actually participate in a novice chase, everything needs to go very well. The instinct of everyone involved will be to stick with hurdles for another season—the safe, conventional option—at the first sign of any bump in the road.
There are a lot of things that could go wrong, including a hair-raising schooling session, a setback in training, a dry spell of weather that means there’s no give in the ground when a suitable novice chase is being sought, or some other factor I haven’t foreseen.
Because of this, even money was the wrong price for Constitution Hill to overcome obstacles in the upcoming term. If you don’t have anything better to do with that fiver, the revised odds of 4-7 might still be worth a try.
Aidan O’Brien says that Kyprios and Statuette will miss the first half of the season. “I don’t think he’ll make the Gold Cup.”
Aidan O’Brien hopes that Emily Dickinson can develop into a live contender for the staying showpiece at Royal Ascot in Kyprios’ absence from June’s Ascot Gold Cup due to injury.
When he was just four years old, Kyprios was the best stayer of 2022, winning all six of his starts, including a historic Gold Cup rerun. He was anticipated to once again dominate the division this year after concluding his campaign with an astonishing 20-length victory in the Prix du Cadran on Arc weekend.
O’Brien had hoped that a joint infection would clear up quickly, so the Gold Cup will come too soon.
O’Brien said: “I don’t think Kyprios is going to make the Gold Cup. He got an inner infection, inside in the joint. It’s an unusual thing for it to come inside the joint. The joint had to be flushed. Then his bloods were still up after it was flushed so that meant there was further infection in the joint and they had to flush it again.
“It’s like one of your own joints, sometimes it takes a while to settle down and that’s where we’re at with them at the moment. It happened a month ago and it’s just not settling down yet. Sometimes those things can settle very quickly and sometimes they don’t.”
When asked who might fill the void left by Kyprios in the staying division for the first half of the season, the master trainer replied: “We were very impressed with Emily Dickinson at the Curragh on her last run. She grew another leg when we upped her to two miles. Broome will be there as well, although I’m not sure whether he will stretch out that far in trip, but we’ll certainly look at Goodwood and the Irish Leger and Melbourne Cup for him. Changingoftheguard could be another, but he will start over middle distances.”
Statuette is another potential Ballydoyle star who will miss the beginning of the season. O’Brien has ruled the unbeaten Justify filly out of the Classic despite being a 6-1 outsider for the Qipco 1,000 Guineas.
He said: “Statuette has had a hold up and I don’t think she’s going to make the Guineas. We’re going to go gently with her. She’ll be back for the second half of the season.”
The Ballydoyle team in the Qipco 1,000 Guineas will now be led by Meditate. She is 100-30 second #1 with Paddy Power behind 11-4 market pioneer Tahiyra.
William Haggas on track for a Lincoln double bid, but well-fancied Cambridgeshire winner to miss out.
Al Mubhir, the pre-post favourite for Saturday’s Lincoln Handicap (3.35 Doncaster), was one of 69 confirmed bets, but Majestic, the Cambridgeshire winner from last season, is not guaranteed a start.
When Lattam stormed home to win the Irish Lincolnshire on Saturday, trainer William Haggas, who trains Al Mubhir, completed the first leg of the Lincoln double and hopes for a famous double.
Al Mubhir, who won a competitive handicap at Haydock in October but hasn’t been seen since, is expected to weigh 9st 2lb in the £77,310 race on Saturday.
However, in a race with a maximum field of 22, Majestic’s connections will need a little luck with the five-year-old number 27 on the list. Majestic is a general 10-1 shot.
When Majestic won the Cambridgeshire at Newmarket in September, he became Mick Channon’s final big-race winner. His son Jack had hoped that Majestic would serve as a springboard for a successful campaign.
Despite the appearances of Muraad, Great Max, Magical Morning, and ante-post fancy Akhu Najla at the five-day stage, he still needs five horses to win.
After a successful winter campaign at Meydan with Dubai World Cup runner-up Algiers, Simon and Ed Crisford will be looking to Awaal to kick off their British season in style. In 2022, they had their best season together.
He won two of his four beginnings in his presentation season, effectively handling a Redcar handicap on his last run of the year. Given that his Redcar victory came on heavy ground, his connections will be pleased by a wet forecast since he has been gelded over the winter.
Al Dasim and George Boughey both had successful winters in the Middle East. Baradar, who won his first start for the stable in November over seven furlongs at Doncaster, is another well-known name in the ante-post market.
He was trained by Johnny Murtagh in the past and was intended for events like the Buckingham Palace Stakes and the Ahonoora Handicap at Galway last summer. Despite his reassessed mark, Boughey will hope that he can cause some damage.
“A very good result” surprise as Paddy Power boosted by Galopin Des Champs win.
An all-too-predictable Willie Mullins big-race double ought to have turned the tide firmly against the layers on the final day of the meeting if an unpredictable Thursday had allowed bookmakers to draw back to about the same level as Cheltenham Festival punters.
However, established businesses’ responses were somewhat more mixed. Paddy Power depicted the triumph of Galopin Des Champions in the Boodles Gold Cup as “an excellent outcome,” while William Slope portrayed the 7-5 victor as “not unreasonably solid.” Coral described the festival as “one to remember for many punters” at the conclusion of the final day.
In the betting for the JCB Triumph Hurdle, Mullins had the first three horses, and earlier in the week, Blood Destiny had overtaken Lossiemouth as the market leader. Lossiemouth went into the day as a 13-8 favorite, and the crowd barely wavered in their support for Paul Townend’s horse, who was roared home at 11-8.
Before Mullins and Townend made no mistake with the classy Galopin Des Champs, bookmakers received some respite with 33-1 winners of the County Hurdle and 18-1 winners of the Albert Bartlett, respectively.
Coral’s David Stevens: “Lossiemouth gave favourite backers the perfect start to the busiest betting day of the festival and while the next two winners, Faivoir and Stay Away Fay, were much harder to find, Galopin Des Champs’ many backers had plenty of time to cheer the seven-year-old home as he went clear up the famous hill.
“A winning favourite in the second biggest betting race of the entire year is never going to be a good result for the bookmakers and the Lossiemouth-Galopin Des Champs double was also extremely popular, ensuring this year’s festival will be one to remember for many punters.”
Constitution Hill, the shortest-priced winner in the history of the Champion Hurdle, won the National Hunt Chase and the championship races on Tuesday and Wednesday, while El Fabiolo, trained by Mullins, justified his 11-10 odds in the Arkle.
The losses of Powerful Potter and Shishkin on Thursday provided the challenge with some similarity to value, before Friday by and by turned reasonably definitively for supporters.
Given that the well-backed 15-8 second favorite Impervious defeated the Mullins and Townend favorite Allegorie De Vassy in the Mrs. Paddy Power Mares’ Chase, even the defeat of Allegorie De Vassy provided little comfort to bookmakers. However, William Hill and Paddy Power reported surprising victories on the day.
Paddy Power spokesman Paul Binfield said: “Irish eyes must have been smiling on the bookies all right in the Gold Cup as despite the winner being favourite, amazingly it was a very good result for us, although some shrewd punters did have some ante-post run-ups on him.”
William Hill’s Lee Phelps was of a similar sentiment, saying: “Favourite Galopin Des Champs winning the Gold Cup wasn’t a bad result at all. He was wrapped up in a few costly multiples, but in the race itself he wasn’t overly strong.
“It was a tricky day for punters, with turn-ups in the Albert Bartlett, County and Hunter Chase, and we’ve ended the festival in front. The costliest thing for us this year has been long-standing ante-post multiples. We’ve seen a number of punters pocketing tens and even hundreds of thousands of pounds thanks to some well-judged accumulators and that has taken the gloss off what has been a solid week.”
Among the organisations costlier liabilities was a six-figure payout thanks to two long-range wagers that happened as expected on Friday for a similar foresighted client.
The client received £26,520 from a £10 each-way double placed on Christmas Eve 2021 with Constitution Hill at 25-1 and Galopin Des Champs at 33-1. The client also received £74,722 from a £10 four-fold placed in March on the same two horses and Desert Crown to win the Derby and Tuesday in the Oaks.
Iroko stays on in style to make history in the Martin Pipe for Greenall and Guerriero, saying, “I can’t describe the feeling.”
With Iroko’s strong staying victory in the final race of the 2023 Cheltenham Festival, two trainers got their first taste of victory.
No Ordinary Joe defeated 28-1 shot Buddy One for second, handing owner JP McManus a 1-2, as Oliver Greenall and Josh Guerriero celebrated as their horse speared between two rivals on the run in.
Since joining forces, the two trainers have had an excellent season. They share the license at their base in Cheshire. At the meeting, it was a first success for the pair in their current roles and rider Aidan Kelly.
“I can’t describe the feeling, really – amazing,” Greenall said. “We always knew the horse was nice, but we just felt maybe he’d be tapped for toe a little here but he managed to hold his position. He’s such an easy horse, so straightforward, just tough, honest.
“He shows nothing at home, he’s not a good work horse, but he’s so straightforward, he doesn’t take much work. He toughed it out and winged the last, and it’s just great.”
Iroko was prominently positioned inside throughout, but as the field accelerated down the hill, she came under pressure. However, he generously reacted to Kelly’s suggestions and powered to a length and a half advantage at the finish, overcoming a 10lb increase from his win at Wetherby the previous time.
Greenall had won the meeting as a rider in 2008, so he was familiar with the festival, but he described his current success as a different kind of buzz.
“I rode the winner of the Foxhunters here in 2008 on Amicelli so to train one here is amazing,” he said. “Josh mainly works on the horse side and is there every day, and I do more with the owners. We’ve got 70 in training, with 50 running at any one time, mainly over jumps but some on the Flat too.”
With Ireland eight wins ahead, the outcome increased Britain’s festival lead for the meeting to 10 points. It was a slight improvement over the 20-8 defeat of the previous year.
The Martin Pipe is frequently won by outstanding staying prospects, as the 2021 hero Galopin Des Champs demonstrated in the Gold Cup just two hours earlier.
After the Gold Cup masterclass, McCoy lavishes praise on Townend, describing his ride as “as brilliant as I’ve ever seen in any horserace.”
After leading the hot favourite Galopin Des Champs to victory in the Cheltenham Gold Cup on Friday, Paul Townend was praised by multiple champion jockey Sir Anthony McCoy for providing “as brilliant a ride as I have ever seen in a horserace.”
Galopin Des Champs, who was at the back of the field, picked off his rivals one by one to get through and challenge Bravemansgame at the last fence before soaring up the hill to win the race for Townend for the third time.
The skill and patience shown by Townend was extolled by McCoy. Asked what he made of the performance, he said: “As brilliant a ride as I have ever seen in a horserace – talk about riding a horse with bottle. Oh my god.
“Talk about pressure – the privilege of pressure – and oh my god he’s coped with it better than anyone I’ve ever seen.”
Townend has been criticised at various points throughout the week for his rides on the likes of Facile Vega in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle and Appreciate It in the Turners Novices’ Chase, while Galopin Des Champs was a faller at the final fence when clear in the Turners Novices’ Chase at the Cheltenham Festival last year.
Ruby Walsh praised Townend’s ability to ignore criticism and ride like he did on Galopin Des Champs, the Cheltenham Gold Cup’s market leader.
“I echo AP’s words completely,” he said. “You come to Cheltenham with all the pressure and to drop him in and ride him the way he rode him [was brilliant].
“He’s probably been listening to people like me giving out all week when he does something wrong, so to be able to put that all away and go and do what he’s just done I’m delighted for him. He deserves every plaudit he gets.”
He added: “There was brilliant race riding in there too. Harry Cobden [on Bravemansgame] kept it all tight off the home turn – it was a compelling race to watch. You wanted Bravemansgame and Galopin Des Champs going at it to the last – that’s what horseracing’s about. I thought it was magic.”
Winning trainer Willie Mullins said: “Paul is so good under pressure and I’ve been putting him under some fair pressure this week. It was a huge ride from Paul I thought – ride of the week anyway.”
“A Plus Tard is back”: De Bromhead takes positives from the defending champion’s unlucky Gold Cup run.
Despite being pulled up in the Boodles Cheltenham Gold Cup, Henry de Bromhead insists that A Plus Tard demonstrated that he was “back” and blames the interference from two fallers for costing him a better chance to defend his crown.
The winner from last year was a 4-1 shot when he was sent off. He was in the back and seemed to be going well until he was severely hampered in a fight at the 17th fence. Ahoy Senor tumbled, bringing down Sounds Russian in A Plus Tard’s path. Having lost his situation, the nine-year-old was pulled up by Rachael Blackmore before the third-last.
However, De Bromhead benefited from the performance. An Or more Tard had not been seen since floundering in the Betfair Pursue at Haydock in November and could now go to Aintree in about a month to challenge the Bowl.
The trainer said: “I thought he was very unlucky. He had to jump two horses sadly and that was it. Rachael said she was really happy with him at the time, tracking Paul [Townend on Galopin Des Champs], and all was good. But it’s the luck of the draw.
“I’m happy. He looks back now and it was just unlucky. He needs to go left-handed, so I suppose maybe Aintree [is an option]. Rachael did the right thing. She pulled him up as she knew he wouldn’t win.”
The coach’s other previous champ Minella Indo was pulled up with a circuit to go and De Bromhead faulted the race start for demolishing his opportunity. Nico de Boinville, a late replacement for Mark Walsh, was reportedly furious when the ten-year-old had to be pushed along when trailing at the start.
“Nico was livid with the start. He said it shouldn’t [have started],” De Bromhead said. “We’re really annoyed by that. I think his chance was gone then. We’ll get him home and see [what to do next].”
After the Gold Cup, all six of the horses that didn’t finish were fine, including Hewick, who fell hard at the second turn. The Galway Plate and American Terrific Public champ was becoming dull of dispute while descending.
Jockey Jordan Gainford said: “It was unbelievable. He’s a tough horse. Even when Derek [Fox, jockey of Ahoy Senor] fell, I was safe away. He was just unlucky on his landing at the second-last. He ran a cracker and I’m delighted with him.”
Before coming down six from home, Ahoy Senor jockey Derek Fox was pleased with how his mount was traveling ahead.
Fox said: “He was travelling nicely until it happened but hopefully he’ll be okay for another day.”
Sean Quinlan, who was brought down on Sounds Russian, said: “I was probably in top gear the whole way. His jumping was keeping him in it, but he was probably getting a little bit tired when he got brought down.”