Nicholls bangs in another winner
Paul Nicholls isn't champion trainer for nothing and again he saddles a festival winner in the last, this time with Hacker Des Places, under Angus Cheleda. Cracking finish too, with Severance just having to give best.
That's it from me for day two. Hope you've enjoyed the highs and lows of another day on Merseyside.
Can't wait for the big one tomorrow at 17:15, the Randox Grand National. We'll be speaking to the stars for their picks for that, so join us again on Saturday!
Here's the full result of that final race:
1st 2 Hacker Des Places 10/1
2nd 11 Severance 5/1
3rd 9 Washington 13/2
4th 13 Whizz Kid 3/1 fav
Non Runner 12 Homme Public
Paul Nicholls has hit the post and the crossbar a time or two over these two days but he's fired one in here with Gelino Bello, under a jubilant Harry Cobden.
It looked liked being a tight tussle between the winner and Gentleman At Arms as they took the final flight together but the winner was switched to the far rail and finished strongly to score at 7/2 in this Grade 1 contest for the champion trainer.
My pick Banbridge was under the pump from a good three-quarters of a mile out and never got involved. Haute Estime has run a big race to be third. She was the only mare in the field and that won't do her future as a broodmare any harm at all.
Full Result - Aintree 16:40 Sefton Novices' Hurdle
1st 8 Gelino Bello 7/2
2nd 9 Gentleman At Arms 28/1
3rd 14 Haute Estime 100/1
All 14 ran
Next up... it's the Sefton
A field of 14 go to post for this next race, the Cavani Menswear Sefton Novices' Hurdle (Grade 1) over three miles (and a bit). I'm with Banbridge, who looks the pick on form. I expect him to bring home the bacon for Ireland and make it a double on the day for trainer Joseph O'Brien.
Skytastic would have to be considered a danger. I was with Stag Horn at Cheltenham last month and I think this drying ground will suit this classy stayer from the Flat quite nicely too.
Full Result - Aintree 4:05
1st 23 Mac Tottie 8/1
2nd 25 Batcio 25/1
3rd 5 Annamix 50/1
4th 22 Francky Du Berlais 28/1
Non Runner 17 Romain De Senam
Mac Tottie wins on Ladies' Day
So, the last time those famous fences will be jumped before the Grand National and it's Mac Tottie who prevails for Peter and Sean Bowen, closing in on long-time leader Janika before the second last, touching down in front at the last and going away to win well, from Batcio for Ted Walsh, Annamix for Willie Mullins and another Bowen horse, Francy Du Berlais completing the frame.
Fakir wins a second Marsh
Well, doesn't matter how short they are if they're too good for the field and Fakir D'Oudairies, who didn't have much in hand on official ratings, has won that well for a second year in succession.
That's fourth Grade 1 win for him, in 4:47.58 secs, if you like to know your times. He was eased into it by Mark Walsh and he left them after the second-last to win it like the good horse he is.
Aintree 15:30 Full Result
1st Fakir D'Oudairies 10/11 fav
2nd 6 Hitman 11/1
3rd 10 Sceau Royal 18/1
All 10 ran.
Raising a glass to Guinness?
I'm a big fan of Fakir D'Oudairies but he's no price here and I'm going to have a pot shot with Captain Guinness, whom I think is overpriced...
Cheltenham took the edge off L'Homme says Deutsch
Quick word with Charlie Deutsch on his way up the weighing room steps. He said of L'Homme Presse: "He just from the get go I could just tell it wasn't quite happening.
"He was fairly flat out and I think Cheltenham maybe took a bit out of him. I wouldn't be too bothered about the ground, I think it's more down to Cheltenham. You only learn these things when you try them."
Also spoke to Harry Cobden, who was not a happy man: "He just didn't run his race," said the pilot of Bravemansgame.
He's like Graeme Hick... Scu on Senor
Just grabbed a few words with Peter Scudamore, who is of course partner to winning trainer Lucinda Russell. I wanted to ask him to compare Ahoy Senor with a brilliant chaser he once rode called Carvill's Hill, who once trounced the Welsh National field. He had some much speed to go with stamina but there were some jumping flaws. You can see where I was going with this, because Ahoy Senor clearly likes to jump to his right.
'Scu' said: "No I don't think he's like Carvill's Hill at all. Carvill's had a weakness because he would jump left, because he had a sac...erm, I can't pronounce it! This horse (Ahoy Senor) I think finds himself a bit of room to go right now and again. I think he'd go left on a right-handed track.
"I was trying to say that I feel he's like dealing with a great batsman. He's like Graeme Hick or something. He's an outstanding elite sportsman but he just has that weakness (like Hick being found out by the short ball). And now we're criticising him for going right to sort it out. He has the pace to keep saving. I was very impressed. That was superb."
Wow, that was mighty imressive!
Lucinda Russell comes to Aintree and does it again, bagging a big prize with Ahoy Senor, who jumped them into the ground up front and the acceleration at the back of the second-last was a goose bump moment.
Hats off to him. He was beaten at Cheltenham but he's come back strongly here and got one over on Bravemansgame, who beat him in the Kauto Star at Christmas and on L'Homme Presse, who was the staying novices' champion at Cheltenham.
Who's the best in this category? It's a great pub debate!
Sheehan fails breath test
Word just in here at Aintree is that jockey Gavin Sheehan has failed a breath test and was stood down from riding today as a result.
There matter has been referred to the Head Office of the British Horseracing Authority.
What a race in prospect!
Coming up is an absolute belter of a race for the Mildmay Novices' Chase (14:55).
Four very good horses, three of whom are trained in Britain, would you believe?!
I tipped up L'HOMME PRESSE when he won the equivalent race at Cheltenham. Again, we don't know whether or not he will run flat here but I am not going to desert him on a 50-50 call. Ahoy Senor would not be out of place in tomorrow's Grand National and I hope some day we see him in that. Bravemansgame is top drawer too and bypassed Cheltenham to come here fresh. Could that prove to be decisive? It's going to be fun finding out...
Coleman buzzing after Jonbon
Just grabbed a quick word with Aidan Coleman, who was thrilled to have got home in front on Jonbon, after their second to Constitution Hill in the Supreme at Cheltenham.
"He deserved that after a fantastic year. Two Grade 2s and a Grade 1 won now. He's been a super horse. He's a real pro and I'm absolutely delighted for him.
"He's a good horse. I'm not sure if he improved there or now. We'll see what the figures men say but he was very good and it was great that we know he can scrap like he had to here."
Well, I'm talking through my pocket here but I backed El Fabiolo and you'd have to feel unlucky he didn't win that, having been significantly hampered at the second-last.
Great effort from Jonbon though, after his Cheltenham Festival exertions. There's no pattern to this, is there?! Some run flat, some run just as well and the JP McManus-owned runner surely did and he picks up a big Grade 1 novices' hurdle.
1st 6 Jonbon Evens Fav
2nd 3 El Fabiolo 4/1
3rd 9 Vina Ardanza 14/1
All 9 ran
Select could be next
Just been listening to Dan Skelton tell us that Langer Dan is a possible now for Sandown Park's Select Hurdle after this big handicap win at Aintree.
Subject to a good run there he may start him off in something like the West Yorkshire Hurdle at Wetherby in October and may plot a route to a higher level from there for his six-year-old.
Protektorat is also reported by the trainer to be fine today after his exertions yesterday. "We'll not do that again," he said, referencing running him here after a hard race in the Gold Cup. That's it for the season for the Gold Cup third and he'll be back in the autumn, plotting a route to try to win the race in 11 months.
Dan's the man!
Well, I must admit that after a breathless first day when I couldn't even get a bet on, that's a first bet and a first winner for me at Aintree!
Lovely hold up ride by Harry Skelton on the horse who was unluckily brought down at Cheltenham when favourite last time.
He was favourite here too and now he's my favourite :-)
Full Result - Aintree 13:45
1st 5 Langer Dan 4/1 fav
2nd 4 Fils D'Oudairies 10/1
3rd 10 Balco Coastal 8/1
4th 2 Garry Clermont 25/1
Non Runner 6 Some Day Soon
Scouse in 'Scouseland'
I know, I know... I don't like photos of people's dinner either but this is it... proper Scouse... a local delicacy here in Liverpool. Looks like stew to me...
Meet the ladies...
Had a wander around and met some reluctant lady punters on Ladies Day but these two from Bolton were happy to smile for the camera.
Meet Joanne (left) and Jane.
They're on a beano and at the point we spoke they were sober. They say they're having they're hats all on A Different Kind in the 14:20. Don't say we didn't tell you!
Also coming up... Dickon White
The Jockey Club Racecourses' north-west Regional Director tell us just how much goes into the big day behind the scenes.
We're nearing race one on day two and the nerves are jangling for those who put on this event and want all to run smoothly. We'll find out just how they get ready for when the gates open on Grand National morning.
The Voice of the 2022 Grand National
Just had a lovely chat with Richard Hoiles, who is commentating on the Grand National for ITV. Top man and brilliant race caller. His commentary on the 2008 Gold Cup, won by Denman, is an all-time fave of mine. Look out for the video for an insight into what goes on behind the scenes...
Betway Top Novices' Hurdle thoughts
The Betway Novices' Hurdle (14.20) is the first Grade 1 on today's card and it's not surprising that a high class field will line up.
Here was have Jonbon, who was second to stablemate Constitution Hill in the Supreme at Cheltenham. That was a super effort in itself and time may tell that it was an impossible task to try to beat him.
However, it was a hard enough race and, as we saw from the likes of Protektorat yesterday, running a big race at Cheltenham can take it's tool at Aintree.
Therefore, I am going to take on the JP MacManus-owned favourite with EL FABIOLO, who represents the all-conquering Willie Mullins yard.
He's only raced twice, dotted up at Tramore last time and 'could be anything'. I don't think Willie would be running him here if he didn't think he could win and I'll take the hint.
A look ahead to the opener at Aintree
Here are some thoughts on a tricky start for punters on Friday.1.45
Always a tough race to win. In fact, I think all the Aintree handicap hurdles are always very tricky. I'd love to put one up that looks like it is lurking on a false mark but, having dredged the race, I'm not sure there is one. Therefore, I am sticking with LANGER DAN, who I selected when he was brought down early at Cheltenham last month. His best form is the strongest at these weights and granted a clear round he will be tough to beat.
It was beautiful here first thing, a light breeze compared to yesterday with the going still as per the overnight description of good to soft.
There's a lovely, lush covering of grass and I'd say it's perfect spring jumping ground, with no excuses.
There's an early non-runner in the opener:
13:45 6 Some Day Soon (lame)
Day 2 at the Grand National Festival is Ladies' Day and finally the weather is playing ball. Let's see what gossip I can get from the trackside today.
If you want a few tips from Friday's big races, go to our articles and watch the video from our expert tipsters. We have the Top Novices' Hurdle (14:20), the Mildmay Novices' Chase (14:55) and the Marsh Chase (15:30) which used to be called the Melling Chase. We also have tips from the five races covered on ITV too.