Noble Yeats became the first seven year old to win the Grand National since 1940 as the Emmet Mullins trained gelding denied the well supported Any Second Now at Aintree on Sunday. The novice only made his chasing debut in early October but he belied his lack of fencing experience to win steeplechasing's greatest race. Runner-up behind Ahoy Senor in the Grade 2 Towton Novices' Chase at Wetherby in February, he was bought by the Waley-Cohen family soon afterwards. Ninth in the Ultima Handicap Chase at the Cheltenham Festival, he was having only his twelfth career start at Aintree. In rear early on, he crept into contention on the first circuit and was bang in contention when the leaders set out on the second circuit.
Any Second Now ran a cracker in second considering Ted Walsh's runner didn't jump as well as last year. Despite that, he made up a lot of ground rounding the home turn and hit the front after the last. At the risk of being critical, Mark Walsh probably made up his ground too quickly and had nothing left from the elbow onwards. However, it was still a tremendous run considering he was actual carrying twelve pounds (six pounds more than was made public).
Longhouse Poet was my main fancy and I thought he was going to win for the majority of the race. Beaten over 33 lengths in sixth, that doesn't do Martin Brassil's horse justice because he tanked through the race and jumped superbly. Unfortunately, he travelled too well and over raced and was in trouble approaching the second last. Fair play to him that he was able to keep going to finish as close as he did. He was prepared brilliantly for the race and, if he had relaxed and perhaps been ridden with a bit more restraint - he fared best of those who raced close to the pace from the outset - he would have gone very close.
Similar to the Cheltenham Festival Update, the Aintree Update had a productive last day with Party Business (11/2) winning the opening three miles handicap hurdle. Ian Williams' charge had caught the eye in the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys' Handicap Hurdle at Cheltenham and looked sure to appreciate this longer distance. I must admit things didn't look promising early on though with Charlie Todd's mount being pushed along. However, he responded on the final circuit and showed a great attitude on the run-in to prevail by three parts of a length. Available at 16/1 on Thursday, the Shantou gelding was heavily backed on Friday and landed some tidy bets.
Three Stripe Life (advised @ 3/1) gained a much deserved Grade 1 win in the two and a half miles novice hurdle. Gordon Elliott's runner had finished runner-up on three occasions at the highest level earlier in the season, including twice behind Sir Gerhard. The Leading Light gelding didn't fancy any rivals of such quality here and he stayed on strongly to beat Might I by nearly five lengths. He will make a cracking novice chaser next season and there is every chance he will stay three miles in time.
Switching codes, Ahead On The Flat arrived from the printers on Friday - half of the orders received were posted on Saturday morning and the remainder willl be sent out early next week. Thank you very much to those clients who have ordered. Please head to the Publications section, if you haven't already ordered.
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