Nick Hardman looks back on what was a momentous festival – culminating in some of the best tipping I have ever seen!:
Well folks that’s almost it for the jumps season with only the Punchestown Festival to come and the final meeting at Sandown to look forward to. After that the flat season takes over and personally I only really look forward to Royal Ascot and Glorious Goodwood. In my opinion the “Classics” come far too soon in the season and I can never get that excited about them. Anyway, back to Aintree and the Grand National festival which was a brilliant 3 days. It was good to see the horses that ran well at Cheltenham upholding their form and, in some cases, improving on it. Here’s a quick recap on how my Day 3 selections fared…..
Oscar Hoof was a faller and Kayf Moss was out of his depth in the opening Novice Hurdle won by Lac Fontana. I was kicking myself a bit as I had Lac Fontana top of my shortlist until I got a bit carried away by the Henderson/ Geraghty treble on Friday. But that’s the way it goes. If anything, the one part of my betting that still needs to be worked on is my conviction to go with my gut instinct and not to over analyse. Any feelings of self-annoyance were quickly dispelled when Balder Success won the Novice Chase with a fine round of jumping to land my fifth winner of the meeting. To be honest that was more than I could have hoped for and it settled the nerves nicely ahead of the rest of the day.
Whisper was another Cheltenham winner who improved for the step up to 3 miles and won the Stayer’s Hurdle from my fancy At Fishers Cross who jumped really poorly all the way round. I just hope that the back problem he had earlier in the season has not returned, but he was awkward at all his fences. Beaten only a length I am sure he would have won with a fluent round of jumping but take nothing away from the winner who followed up his Coral Cup success here.
When you write for a blog and volunteer your selections to a wider audience the one think you hope for is not to make a fool of yourself. I was more than happy with 2 winners on Day 1 and 2 winners on Day 2. When Balder Success trotted up I was satisfied that I had achieved my objective of not embarrassing myself in front of the readers of MakeYourBettingPay. What happened next was something else.
Duke Of Lucca had not won for 2 years and he is quirky, but he stays and stays forever. I was hopeful of a good run and I will ashamedly admit to yelling “Get In!!!” when he held on from Vino Griego to win the Listed Handicap Chase by a head. A 16/1 winner and next up was the big one. Big Shu went early, soon to be followed by Mountainous and Teaforthree. That left Pineau De Re, Hawkes Point and Chance Du Roy as my only chances. To make matters worse, Mrs H had picked Mister Moonshine who led with three to jump. The rest, as they say, is history as Pineau De Re stayed on gamely to land the most famous race in the world @25/1. Chance Du Roy finished where all good “each-way, 5 places” horses finish – in sixth. Hawkes Point was last of those to complete. It was a tremendous race and it was nice to have the winner amongst the half dozen picks I backed.
As if that was not enough, Court Minstrel landed the subsequent Handicap Hurdle at a cracking 16/1. I will admit that Court Minstrel was just a token selection and says more about my pin-sticking ability than my ability to decipher a 22 runner handicap for amateurs and conditionals. Four winners from six races on the final day was beyond anything I could have dreamt. I must stress I have never backed winners @16/1, 25/1 and 16/1 in consecutive races. In fact I have never had three winners at those prices in a single day, perhaps not even in a single week. A truly memorable day and one I will not forget in a hurry. I am a strong believer in karma though and that probably means I will go the whole flat season without a winner!
As always, I hope you have enjoyed following my Aintree blog and do feel free to leave a comment or two. I hope you had a good one.