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Sunday, November 20, 2005



The inaugural North West Masters was deemed to be an enormous success following racing at Aintree today.

After a record-breaking crowd at Haydock of 12,032 on Saturday, Aintree were also pleased with their attendance figure.

Charles Barnett, Aintree’s Managing Director, said: “We are thrilled with the work that has been carried out by the regional tourism groups working with Aintree and Haydock on promoting this weekend.

“Racegoers have travelled from all over the country and Ireland to see some fantastic racing this weekend. We very much hope that we can build on this platform for future years to ensure that the North West Masters becomes an important part of the racing calendar.”

Race 1 Weatherbys Bank Juvenile Novices’ Hurdle


Fair Along got favourite backers off to a fine start this afternoon as the 4/7 chance easily beat Ortolan Bleu by 21 lengths with a distance back to third-placed Aviation.

Sarah Hobbs, wife and assistant to trainer Philip, said: “Richard [Johnson, jockey] was delighted and said that Fair Along was not as fresh as at Cheltenham last time.

“He tries and jumps well and Richard didn’t push him, instead holding on to him and gliding over the hurdles which was the sensible thing to do.

“He won’t run for three weeks now and I suppose we might think about something like the Finale Hurdle at Chepstow.

“We are not worried about an undulating track so we’ll think about that or Cheltenham.”

Fair Along, who was scoring his fourth success in a row, was unchanged in the betting at 20/1 with totesport for the JCB Triumph Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival, while Paddy Power were more impressed trimming him to 16/1 (from 20/1) and Coral cut him from 16/1 to 12/1.


Richard Johnson, rider of the winner, described the ground as good to soft - a bit tacky, while Graham Lee, who partnered the second Ortolan Bleu, said that the hurdle course rode dead. Tony Dobbin, on the fourth Flaming Weapon, described the ground as a bit soft.

Race 2 totepool Grand Sefton Handicap Chase


Hakim provided trainer John Spearing and jockey Paddy Brennan with their first wins over the Grand National fences when taking this afternoon’s £60,000 totepool Grand Sefton Handicap Chase by two and a half lengths from Fiori.

The winning handler said: “Hakim made all - he was first away and he did not put a foot wrong - he jumped absolutely brilliantly. Paddy is a good jockey which is why we had him.

“Hakim can jump any fence - has never ever made a mistake anywhere while he’s been racing.

“I thought that he might get tired on the run-in and I was willing him on - but he is gutsy.

“I would like to run him in the John Smith’s Grand National if he gets in but I think he’s too low in the handicap [rated 116 before today’s triumph]. I would think that he could be a Topham Chase horse.

“I had no worries about him staying today’s trip even though he’s been winning over just over two miles. I think that Hakim would get four miles but I have not got to the bottom of him yet and he’s been running over two miles because he’s been winning over that trip.

“He’s getting a bit old [11-year-old] to be improving but he is.

“I have had two runners in the John Smith’s Grand National, one fell at the first and one, Run and Skip, fell at the second, but the fences were a lot stiffer then. I have had one get around in the Topham.”


Paddy Brennan, the jockey on the winner Hakim in the totepool Grand Sefton Chase, said: “Hakim gave me a great ride. My agent Chris Board picked this horse out two weeks ago.

“I owe this to John Spearing as well because I rode for him over hurdles on Thursday and it was one of the worst rides I have ever given a horse - I paid him back here.

“He really enjoyed himself over the fences and was awesome.”


1.40pm £60,000 totepool GRAND SEFTON CHASE 2m 5f 110yds

1. Hakim (NZ) (T N Siviter) John Spearing 11-10-12 Paddy Brennan 18/1
2. Fiori (Wilson Imports I) Pat Haslam 9-10-03 Barry Keniry 100/1
3. Shannon's Pride (IRE) (JAS Partnership) Richard Guest 9-10-03 Larry McGrath (3) 20/1
4. Tanterari (IRE) (David Johnson) Martin Pipe 7-10-09 Timmy Murphy 9/1JF
5. Cassia Heights (B Ridge & D Hewitt) Steve Brookshaw t10-10-02 Tony Dobbin
6. Wain Mountain (Bill Smith and M D Dudley) Jim Old 9-11-08 Wayne Hutchinson
7. Better Days (IRE) (Trevor Hemmings) Sue Smith 9-11-08 David Elsworth
8. Melford (IRE) (Mrs J M Mayo) Charlie Mann 7-10-11 Noel Fehily
9. Ebony Light (IRE) (Roger Bellamy) Ginger McCain [9-10-10 Stephen Craine (5)
10. Tribal King (IRE) (Mrs Peter Andrews) Alan King 10-10-09 Robert Thornton
11. Iverain (FR) (Sir John & Lady Barlow) Sir John Barlow Bt 9-10 Richard McGrath
12. Whereareyounow (IRE) (Raymond Mould) 8-11-10 Carl Llewellyn 9/1 JF
13. Tipsy Mouse (IRE) (Paul Beck) Richard Guest p9-9-11 Patrick Merrigan (5)
14. Benrajah (IRE) (Brian Murfin) Martin Todhunter 8-10-12 Graham Lee

Did not finish
F2 Rocking Ship (IRE) (Clare Connection Syndicate) Ms Joanna Morgan IRE 7-10-08 Davy Russell
F3 Roschal (IRE) (Brian Walsh) Philip Hobbs 7-10-02 Richard Johnson
UR3 Ulusaba (Dorothy Clinton, Chris McHugh, Jon King) Ferdy Murphy p9-10-06 Keith Mercer (3)
F5 Soeur Fontenail (FR) (La Connection Francaise) Nigel Hawke 8-9-07 Kieran Burke (7)
F9 Cobbet (CHR) (Timothy Chick) Tom George 9-11-03 Jason Maguire
F10 Be My Better Half (IRE) (J P McManus) Jonjo O'Neill 10-11-05 Brian Harding
F11 Il'athou (FR) (Lady Thompson) Simon Sherwood 9-11-10 Joe Tizzard
F13 Almost Broke (A G Fear) Paul Nicholls 8-11-12 Christian Williams
F2nd last Halexy (FR) Jonjo O'Neill (Sir Robert Ogden) Marcus Foley

distances: 2.5, 4, 5, 0.5, 0.75, 4, 10, 1, 2.5, 3, 3, 28, 17.

Tote W£20.50 PL£4.50, £28.70, £4.90, £3.30 Exacta £3,238.80

All horses and jockeys were reported fine after the race

Race 3 William Hill/Stanleybet Children In Need Handicap Hurdle


Alan Shearer made the most of his visit this afternoon to Aintree when Covent Garden, the horse he owns as part of the Ada Partnership together with Dave Fulton and Alan Shield, won the William Hill/Stanleybet Children In Need Handicap Hurdle by four lengths from top-weight Penny Pictures.

The Newcastle United footballer said: “I thought that Covent Garden did it well and showed guts as he hasn’t been out for a while [249 days]. Graham [Lee, winning rider] had to niggle away at times as he can be a bit lazy.”

The winner was sent off 5-1co-favourite.

“I had a few quid on him,” admitted Shearer. “I better not say how much though!

“As part of the Ada Partnership I also own Akilak [third in last year’s JCB Triumph Hurdle] who is a possible for the Fighting Fifth Hurdle but he needs soft ground.

“I come racing as much as I can. I’m glad that it’s on a Sunday today as I might have been struggling to get here yesterday. I find going racing a great way of relaxing.

“I am back in full training tomorrow.”


Timmy Murphy, who had a fall on Inch Pride at the last in the William Hill / Stanleybet Children In Need Handicap Hurdle, was assisted off the course and then looked at by Aintree’s medical team.

Murphy, walking gingerly, said later: “I am feeling very sore but luckily there is nothing broken.”

He gave up his other rides.

Chocolate Thornton, who came down in the same race at the same obstacle on Halcon Genelardais, is going to see a consultant in Cheltenham tomorrow morning.

He said: “My ribs are sore.”

He also missed his other mounts.

Race 4 totesport Becher Handicap Chase


Garvivonnian belied his odds of 33/1 in the £100,000 totesport Becher Handicap Chase to beat a late surging Le Duc by three-quarters of a length.

Winning trainer Ned Mitchell said: “It’s the Grand National next - he missed the cut by one last year and we ran him here to get him up in the weights, hopefully finishing in the first three, so he can get in the Grand National next year.

“We have no immediate plans.

“We first thought he might handle the fences here when Ruby Walsh rode him around Killarney.Ruby and Tommy Treacey were the first two to say that he might be a National horse.

“He was in next Saturday’s Hennessy but he won’t run.

“I come from Ballyneety in County Limerick and I have eight or nine horses. I combine a small bit of training with farming.

“He won the Cork National last November and we were in two minds whether to go back for that or come here - we took a bit of a gamble. I am supposed to go back home tonight!

“It’s great to be the last trainer to win over the National fences and get into this winner’s enclosure.

“This is the first time Garrett [Cotter, winning rider] has ridden this horse - he can do a light weight and has the experience over the fences.

“He also rides Jack High for Ted Walsh but I won’t have any problem finding jockeys!”


Garrett Cotter, successful on Garvivonnian in the £100,000 totesport Becher Chase, said: ”It is a dream come true to win over these fences - hopefully it will be the Grand National one day.

“There were two horses besides me going to the last but he has stuck his head out all the way to the line. It is nice to finally get it right.”


Marcus Foley, who was on first fence faller Juveigneur in the totesport Becher Chase, has been taken directly to Fazakerley Hospital for assessment on a wrist and his head.


2.50pm £100,000 TOTESPORT BECHER CHASE 3m 3f

1. Garvivonnian (IRE) (Mrs A Long) Ned Mitchell IRE 10-10-04 Garrett Cotter 33/1
2. Le Duc (FR) (The Stewart Family) Paul Nicholls 6-10-10 Joe Tizzard 25/1
3. Just In Debt (IRE) (J K Hazeldean) Martin Todhunter 9-10-05 Alan Dempsey 25/1
4. It Takes Time (IRE)(David Johnson) Martin Pipe 11-11-12 Richard Johnson 9/1
5. Haut de Gamme (FR)(The Haut De Gamme Partnership) Ferdy Murphy 10-10-08 Keith Mercer (3)
6. Heros Collonges (FR) (John Hales) Paul Nicholls 10-10-13 Christian Williams
7. Amberleigh House (IRE) (Halewood International Ltd) Ginger McCain 13-10-09 Graham Lee
8. Bindaree (IRE) (Raymond Mould) Nigel Twiston-Davies 11-11-05 Carl Llewellyn
9. Nil Desperandum (IRE)(Mike Shone) Frances Crowley IRE 8-11-00 Brian Harding
10. What Odds (IRE) (Dee Racing Syndicate) Tucker Geraghty 9-10-00 Ross Geraghty
11. Cregg House (IRE) (Kathleen Kennedy) Shane Donohoe IRE 10-10-06 Davy Russell

F1 Direct Access (IRE) (The Direct Access Partnership) Nicky Richards 10-10-00 Tony Dobbin
F1 Juveigneur (FR) (Trevor Hemmings) Nicky Henderson 8-10-13 Marcus Foley
UR1 Exit Swinger (FR) (Sandicroft Stud) Paul Nicholls 10-10-03 Patrick Merrigan (5)
BD1 Philson Run (IRE) Nick Williams (Gale Force One) 9-10-02 Dominic Elsworth
F2 Strong Resolve (IRE) (Fair City Flyers) Lucinda Russell 9-10-05 Peter Buchanan (3)
UR3 Forest Gunner (John Gilsenan) Richard Ford 11-10-13 Nina Carberry (3) 11/2 Fav
F14 Double Honour (FR) (The 4th Middleham Partnership) Philip Hobbs b7-10-09 Paddy Brennan
PU18 Rheindross (IRE) (Mr Brian Walsh (Co. Kildare)) Charlie Mann 10-10-03 Noel Fehily

distances 0.75, nk, 0.5, 1, 7, 1.25, 22, 25, 18, 16.

Tote: W£46.50 Pl £7.70, £5.50, £7, £2.40 exacta £1,405.20

Carrie Ford explained what happened to 11/2 favourite Forest Gunner who came down at the third.

The trainer’s wife said: ”Forest Gunner is fine. Nina said that he met the fence on a perfect stride but his hind legs slipped and he went straight into the fence. It is one of those things.”

Paul Nicholls, trainer of the second Le Duc, commented: “He will go for the John Smith’s Grand National. I won’t do a lot with him beforehand - I would not worry if he had one run over fences and an outing over hurdles beforehand.

“There is no point getting to the bottom of him before the National. He does like better ground.”

The stewards found that Le Duc’s jockey Joe Tizzard had used his whip with excessive frequency from the last. They suspended him for two days on December 1 and 2.

Race 5 Intersky Novices’ Chase


Cerium benefitted from leader Nyrche dramatically went to his left as he approached the second last and running out, going on to win by five lengths from Stance.

The winner provided Paddy Brennan with a 44/1 double after he had earlier won the £60,000 totepool Grand Sefton Handicap Chase on Hakim.

Winning trainer Paul Nicholls said: “Paddy said that Cerium would have won easy even if Nyrche hadn’t run out.

“He doesn’t do a tap in front and he’s just a real character - a good one though!

“He’ll probably go for the Wayward Lad Novices’ Chase at Sandown on Boxing Day if four-year-olds are eligible.

“You have to space his runs out and not run him too quick. Also once you have won one or two novice chases you have trouble finding races.

“He has always jumped well - I know he’s high up in the Arkle betting but he wouldn’t go for that if the ground is fast as that’s no good.

“He goes two miles on soft ground but he’d probably want two and a half on better ground - he’s not unlike My Will.

“Paddy is a good lad isn’t he?”

Totesport trimmed Cerium into 8/1 (from 10/1) for the Irish Independent Arkle Chase at Cheltenham in March, while William Hill left him at 6/1, bet365 pushed him out to 14/1 (from 12/1) and Paddy Power also allowed the winner to drift, going 12/1 (from 10/1).


Wayne Hutchinson was suspended for 14 days from December 1 to December 10 inclusive and December 12 to December 15 inclusive for taking the wrong course on Nyrche in the Intersky Novices’ Chase.

Nyrche, who was leading at the time, dramatically went to his left as he approached the second last and ran out.

Race 6 Jim Ennis Construction Ltd Novices’ Handicap Hurdle


Vingis Park became the last horse to enter the winner’s enclosure at Aintree in its current form when the top-weight proved 11 lengths too powerful for Sergio Coimbra in the concluding Jim Ennis Construction Ltd Novices’ Handicap Hurdle.

The winner was ridden by Jack Doyle, who is the son of Irish trainer Pat Doyle. The 16-year-old amateur, who claims 7lb, was enjoying his first ride and winner at Aintree.

Winning trainer Victor Dartnall said: “Jack rode Here’s Johnny at Sandown for me and was then fifth on Le Briar Soul at Haydock in the bumper for me yesterday. We came on here today. He rides beautifully and followed my instructions to the letter.

“This horse has taken a long time to come to himself. I was running him over fences but I decided that he didn’t like them. He had a wind operation last year and he has been just touched off a lot over the last two years.

“I was also running him in a tongue strap which he didn’t like so I put the blinkers on for the first time today and went for it.

“The handicapper might be a bit harsh now but when you kick on, you have got to go for it.”

The weighing room will be preserved , probably being used as a bar, with the new facility being open for the John Smith’s Grand National Meeting in April.


Last night a celebratory party was held at the Hope Street Hotel in Liverpool to mark the inaugural running of the North West Masters.

The party was well attended by over 100 guests.

Charles Barnett, Aintree’s Managing Director, thanked regional groups including the North West Development Agency, and the Mersey Partnership, plus both St Helens and Sefton Councils for their support.

The North West Masters is a new initiative undertaken by Aintree and Haydock Park, with support from the regional bodies, aimed at promoting quality racing in a great region, England’s North West.


Ginger McCain, trainer of First Fough, who runs in the opening Weatherbys Bank Juvenile Novices’ Hurdle (1.05pm), Ebony Light, who competes in the totepool Grand Sefton Handicap Chase (1.40pm), Flame Phoenix, a contestant in the William Hill/Stanleybet Children In Need Handicap Hurdle (2.15pm), Amberleigh House who lines up in the totesport Becher Handicap Chase (2.50pm), and Reem Two in the concluding Jim Ennis Construction Ltd Novices’ Handicap Hurdle (3.50pm), said before racing: “It is first-class ground and there should be no excuses. There is a bit of bone on the backside but you can see it coming out of the ground by the minute now.

“I think racecourses tend to be overcautious nowadays whether it be low sun or the ground is not this or that.

“The course reflects tremendous credit on the groundstaff and the fences are brilliantly dressed as always.

“To be honest with you, I have not seen better turf and ground on a British racecourse for a long time.”

Richard Ford, trainer of Forest Gunner who lines up in the totesport Becher Handicap Chase, said: “I walked the front section of the course but the bit that I saw was fine.

“Carrie [wife and assistant trainer] and Nina [Carberry, rider of Forest Gunner] are walking the course now.

“There is no point me walking it because I would break down by the time that I got to Bechers!”


Andrew Tulloch, Aintree’s clerk of the course, is delighted that racing can go ahead at Aintree this afternoon.

All three courses - Grand National, Mildmay & Hurdle - passed the third inspection of the day at noon, following early inspections at 8am and 10.30am.

Tulloch said: “I am delighted that racing can go ahead.

“Temperatures crept up all morning but we were waiting for the sun to break through.

“The sun came through initially at the 10.30am and then again at 11.30am which was a great help. The air temperature at noon was plus 2.5 degrees Celsius.

“The Grand National course was fine. It was only where we were crossing areas of ground that we had raced on during October on the Mildmay & Hurdle courses that we had problems.

“We had put extensive ground sheets out on all courses but obviously on a racecourse as large as this we could not cover every single area.

“It was only a few of those areas not covered which gave us cause for concern.

“We would have liked to have made an announcement earlier but had to wait until the temperatures rose. The early cloud cover was the problem.”


Aintree Racecourse passed a noon inspection and all racing is due to go ahead as scheduled this afternoon.

Andrew Tulloch, Aintree’s clerk of the course, said at noon: “The stewards have passed all three courses - Grand National, Mildmay and Hurdle - as fit for racing.”


Andrew Tulloch, Aintree’s clerk of the course, said: “Following a second inspection at 10.30am, the stewards reported that there had been an improvement since the earlier inspection at 8am.

“However, there are still some small areas of unraceable ground. The sun is now out and there will be a further inspection at noon.”


Following an early-morning inspection (8am) at Aintree Racecourse, the stewards have called a secondary inspection at 10.30am.

This follows an overnight drop in temperatures to minus 3 degrees Celsius.

At present there is cloud cover which is expected to clear later.

For old articles (from 1st March 2000) go to the Newslink Archive

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