Gremlins were out in force on “Freaky Family Funday”, getting into the big screen which was absent all day due to a technical glitch. For six competitive races, the public were reliant on course commentator Lee McKenzie alone.
All of the fun and games started well before the racing action got underway though, with a host of activities on offer for the younger racegoers. Face Painting and Fancy Dress competitions proved hugely popular and that was just amongst the adults! Fairground rides, a Matalan shop and screenings of a dire Manchester United were also dotted around the course, so there really was entertainment for everybody.
Aintree’s International Equestrian Centre was also most popular, with the chance to visit Aintree’s ponies always a highlight on this Halloween raceday. Plus, Carrie Ford (who finished fifth in the Grand National aboard Forest Gunner in 2005) was in her element teaching some younger stars how to ride an equisizer. She proved that she hasn’t lost any of her talent, and perhaps she’s helped to find some new stars of the future!
Another Grand National legend had many of the more seasoned racegoers in awe on Sunday. Jenny Pitman was at Aintree with a runner in the concluding bumper. Famous for her Grand National exploits with Corbiere in the early seventies and Royal Athlete in the mid-nineties, Jenny was robbed of another success in the great race after Esha Ness was disqualified despite being first past the post in the “National that never was” in 1993. The Goldmeister eventually finished seventh of seventeen for Pitman, but showed potential and should be one to keep an eye on when upped in trip and sent hurdling.
The Weatherbys Bloodstock Insurance Handicap Steeplechase was the feature race of the day, and it went to Champion Trainer Paul Nicholls’ Takeroc. The 8 year-old gelding has been more than useful in the past, running with credit in races like the Tingle Creek against the likes of Master Minded. He continues to be in good form having picked up a couple of hunter chases and the impressiveness of his victory may have gained him a return to some top flight handicaps this winter.
Champion Court won the Novices’ Chase and in doing so beat a trio of potentially classy chasers. Although not totally accurate with his jumping, he readily asserted after the final fence and scored with something in hand for Paddy Brennan and Martin Keighley. He earned quotes as low as 14/1 for the RSA Chase at the Festival in March. Saint Are made an encouraging return to action on his chasing debut in chasing him home, and will win a race of this nature in no time.
Rival D’Estruval, Barbatos and Distime are other names to take away from this meeting, which has consistently thrown up superstars and horses to follow over the past four or five seasons.
Racing returns to Aintree on Saturday 3rd December, when we will see some eagerly awaited action over the modified Grand National Course.