Solwhit and Carberry claim Liverpool Hurdle win
Bryan Cooper’s fantastic season continues on Special Tiara in the Maghull Novices’ Chase
Solwhit turned in another superb display in the hands of Paul Carberry to claim the John Smith’s Liverpool Hurdle at Aintree this afternoon.
The talented but fragile nine-year-old proved his ability to stay three miles when claiming his seventh Grade One prize at the Cheltenham Festival, and was sent off the 9-4 favourite to make it eight on Merseyside.
Always travelling well in the middle of the pack, Charles Byrnes’ stable star was still cruising in behind the leaders at the top of the home straight but Carberry was keen to bide his time. The ultra-confident Carberry was looking round for dangers between the final two flights and
Solwhit sealed victory with a spring-heeled leap at the last. He kicked on up the run-in to score by three lengths from Holywell, with Smad Place back in third. “He was absolutely brilliant today,” said Carberry. “He travelled great the whole way and jumped absolutely brilliant. I’d say he’s nearly twice the horse today he was at Cheltenham.”
Bryan Cooper’s incredible season continued as he guided Special Tiara to victory in the John Smith’s Maghull Novices’ Chase.
One of the rising stars of the National Hunt weighing room, the 20-year-old Kerryman rode three winners at last month’s Cheltenham Festival and enjoyed his first Aintree winner aboard First Lieutenant in Thursday’s Betfred Bowl.
With Grand Annual winner Alderwood, Arkle runner-up Baily Green and the ever-popular Overturn in the field, it was no surprise to see Henry de Bromhead’s Special Tiara sent off a largely unconsidered 28 to 1 shot for this Grade One event.
Special Tiara disputed the lead with Overturn for much of the two-mile journey, but appeared to have been seen off when Overturn quickened into a clear lead off the home bend.
But Overturn began to wander on the run to the final fence and was claimed by Special Tiara on the flat, with De Bromhead’s charge getting up by a length and three-quarters.
Alderwood was outpaced before plugging on to finish third, while Baily Green made a serious mistake at the first fence and never fully recovered, eventually pulling up.
Cooper said: “Going to the last I thought I had a bit more horse. He wings fences and I thought if he winged the last I might get there, but Overturn is a real tough horse and when I went past he battled again. It’s been an unbelievable time for me.”
De Bromhead said: “Bryan gave him a super ride. He’s a bit of a tearaway so we mainly just loose school him at home. His jumping was superb — we thought with good ground and an easy two miles he might have a chance. He only just gets two miles. He’s a big galloping horse and loves jumping.”
Battle Group secured his second course win in the space of just three days with a brilliant performance in the John Smith’s Handicap Chase.
Second in this race 12 months ago when trained by David Pipe, the eight-year-old has since joined Kevin Bishop and landed some hefty bets when running away with Thursday’s Silver Cross Handicap Hurdle, a race he also won in 2011.
With Daryl Jacob taking over in the saddle from Brendan Powell, Battle Group was a 7-2 favourite back over the larger obstacles and travelled with his usual enthusiasm.
While on occasions in the past he has failed to go through with his effort, he bounded clear once sent on halfway up the home straight, coming home 16 lengths ahead of Mac Aeda.
Gary Moore’s Ubak shed his maiden tag in some style by running out a surprise winner of the John Smith’s Mersey Novices’ Hurdle.
Beating just one home when a 100 to 1 shot for the Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival, the five-year-old was 22 to 1 for his latest assignment.
Favourite Up And Go cut out much of the running, but he dropped away from the home turn, leaving Utopie Des Bordes and Irish raider Seefood disputing the lead.
However, Ubak tracked that pair into the straight under the trainer’s son, Jamie, and once asked to go about his business, the response was hugely impressive.
Ubak quickly put daylight between himself and his rivals, hopped over the last and continued to extend his lead all he way to the line, passing the post with 16 lengths in hand.
Utopie Des Bordes beat Seefood to the runner-up spot, with Up And Go and Dodging Bullets both disappointing.
Jamie Moore said: “I just got done for toe a bit coming down the hill at Cheltenham, but he had decent form if you look back with My Tent Or Yours and some others.
“He’s been kept up under wraps a bit this season, but he’s a nice horse and won very well.”
Moore senior said: “This was never going to be the calibre of the Cheltenham race, and I only declared because there was eight in it.
“The owner was keen to come and that’s why we are here. That won’t have done his handicap mark much good, but it doesn’t matter as he’s a three-mile chaser in the making.”