April 11 – Aintree – Il Etait Temps – 75

The main focus of attention, of course, was on matters at Aintree and the meeting kicked off with a cracking novice chase won in taking fashion by the Arkle third. Having found two miles on the sharp side at Cheltenham, the decision to step him up to 2m4f looked a sensible option and so it proved, as Willie Mullins’ inmate stayed on too strongly for old rivals Ginny’s Destiny and Grey Dawning. Based on the evidence of his best two performances on the card, this one included, the six-year-old would appear more than likely to stay in this lane next season and with stable mate Gaelic Warrior presumably heading the direction of the Champion Chase, the Ryanair looks up for grabs.

April 11 – Aintree – Sir Gino – 74

Having missed out on Cheltenham due to issues surrounding the form of his stable, Nicky Henderson’s gelding was out to prove that he would have justified favouritism in the Triumph and although he was made to work hard for victory, he heads off into next season as the undisputed champ in this division. Having said that, whether he would have prevailed had his main market threat Kargese settled better than she did is open to question and for that reason, the runner-up has to be given a huge amount of credit for lasting as long as she did after the last. Two above average juveniles (74 rating only matched by Our Conor in recent times), they should both fare well in open company next season.

April 12 – Aintree – Kateira – 75

One of many tricky big field handicap hurdles at the meeting and given his success in races of this nature in the past, no great surprise to see Dan Skelton laying one out for victory. Having run well at Kempton previously and finished runner-up in a Grade 1 at the track before, everything looked set fair for the daughter of Kayf Tara to put up a bold show and there was never too much anxiety for those who joined in the gamble. The only danger might have come from Jango Baie had he not suffered interference at a  crucial stage and Nicky Henderson’s gelding’s effort deserves to be upgraded accordingly.

April 13 – Aintree – Found A Fifty – 75

A seemingly odd place to run a Grade 1, directly after the Grand National, actually turned out to be one of the races of the meeting and the numbers back up the view beforehand it was a top class affair in every way. Looking at the pace map, there was always likely to be a strong gallop set from the start and so it proved, and that suited the winner and runner-up, Master Chewy, who had both showed this season they are at their best under those circumstances. Likely to both go down the Champion Chase route next season, the pair are worthy of respect in that category.

April 13 – Chelmsford – Documenting – 82 

Away from the action at Aintree, there were some notable performances on the Flat, the pick of the week coming in the shape of the seven furlong handicap run at the Essex venue on Saturday morning. A proper gallop was set right from the outset and, having raced handy around the inside, Kevin Frost’s inmate swooped to conqueror at the business end. A real seven-furlong specialist, he still showed there is plenty of life in the old dog yet and it would come as no surprise if connections eyed something like the Victoria Cup at Ascot next month. Of the rest, similar comments apply to Benavente and Cephalus who both remain in top form based on this evidence.

April 13 – Dundalk – London City – 73

Slightly disappointing at two, Aidan O’Brien’s grey was a warm order to kick-start his career with time under his belt and judged on what we witnessed at the Co Louth venue, he looks a totally different proposition as a three-year-old. Dominant in every department from start to finish, the son of Justify powered clear to clock a smart time figure and he looks every inch a Group horse in waiting. Along with the winner, the second and third (Ozark Daze and Ephesus) also deserve special mentions and they both should be kept on side throughout the early part of the new campaign.