Posts

Abacadabras just magic in Aintree Hurdle

Abacadabras made amends for crashing out at Cheltenham when taking Grade One honours in the Betway Aintree Hurdle at the Liverpool course.

The Denise Foster-trained seven-year-old exited at the third flight in the Champion Hurdle – but bounced back to strike in the hands of Jack Kennedy.

Abacadabras (5-1) had the loose Jason The Militant for company in the closing stages and kept on strongly to hold Buzz by a length and a quarter, with Millers Bank two and a quarter lengths in third and Buveur D’Air fourth.

The latter was leading when Jason The Militant, who unseated Rachael Blackmore after jumping the seventh flight, went across him at the second-last.

The winner is owned by Gigginstown House Stud, whose racing manager Eddie O’Leary said: “We thought he’d go well at Cheltenham, but he was unlucky there.

“There was no question he stayed the (two-and-a-half-mile) trip. He can idle in front and he’s been called some names in the past, but if you go through his form this season he’s had excuses.

“He needed the run the first day, he won nicely next time, he scoped badly at Leopardstown over Christmas then the ground was too heavy in the Irish Champion.

“It was unfortunate what happened at Cheltenham, but he was very good today. Jack was very good on him and I’m delighted for all at Cullentra.

“We actually thought he was a little unlucky against Shishkin as a novice, we were actually coming back at him at the line (in last year’s Supreme Novices’ Hurdle).”

Looking to the future, O’Leary said: “Hopefully he’ll come home with a smile on his face and there’s a chance he could go to Punchestown.

“I’d imagine he’ll stay hurdling next season, but we’ll have a chat about that later on.”

Abacadabras and jockey Jack Kennedy after winning the Betway Aintree Hurdle
Abacadabras and jockey Jack Kennedy after winning the Betway Aintree Hurdle (Tim Goode/PA)

Representing Foster was Lisa O’Neill, who said: “It was disappointing at Cheltenham. Everything seems to have worked out well and it’s great he could come here today and prove himself at this level again.

“He seemed perfectly fine after his fall. He came out of it really well so this was an option coming soon enough, but because he felt good we took the opportunity.

“He was second to Honeysuckle in the Irish Champion Hurdle and he won the Morgiana back in November so we were confident he was going to run well coming here. It was a step up in trip, but it really suited him.

“It’s a possibility he could go to Punchestown. We’ll take him home and see how he is after the run and see what the owners want to do.”

Buveur D’Air to seek Aintree Hurdle repeat

Buveur D’Air will bid to roll back the years and win a second Betway Aintree Hurdle.

Nicky Henderson’s 10-year-old lifted Thursday’s Grade One prize over two-and-a-half miles in 2017, and was runner-up in 2019.

The dual Champion Hurdle winner was sidelined for 420 days when suffering a freak injury in the Fighting Fifth at Newcastle in November 2019 – and returned to action only in January when he was beaten by Navajo Pass at Haydock.

Henderson also runs Buzz – while Silver Steak, who was a well-beaten fifth in the 2019 renewal of this race on his only previous attempt at two-and-a-half miles, is among the 11 declared this time.

The Evan Williams-trained grey won the Christmas Hurdle at Kempton this winter and was sixth in the Champion Hurdle on his latest start.

Tom Symonds’ Song For Someone, who defeated Silver Streak by a nose in the International Hurdle at Cheltenham in December, is among the opposition – along with the talented but unpredictable Not So Sleepy.

The two Irish-trained runners are Denise Foster’s Abacadabras and Henry de Bromhead’s Jason The Militant, winner of the Red Mills Trial Hurdle.

The other runners are Ballyandy, Brewin’upastorm, McFabulous and Millers Bank.

Emmet Mullins’ versatile performer The Shunter is one of seven declared for the SSS Super Alloys Manifesto Novices’ Chase.

The eight-year-old is effective over hurdles and fences, and scooped a £100,000 bonus for connections when winning the Paddy Power Plate Handicap Chase at Cheltenham after taking Kelso’s Morebattle Hurdle.

Rivals include the Henderson-trained Fusil Raffles, who was second to stablemate Chantry House in the Marsh Novices’ Chase at the Festival.

Eldorado Allen, Hitman, Phoenix Way, Protektorat and Umbrigado are also in the mix.

Adagio, runner-up in the Triumph Hurdle, will try to go one better in the Doom Bar Anniversary 4-Y-O Juvenile Hurdle.

The David Pipe-trained four-year-old is already a Grade One winner, having landed the Finale Juvenile Hurdle at Chepstow in January.

There are two unbeaten horses over hurdles among the six runners – Paul Nicholls’ Monmiral and Donald McCain’s Fiveandtwenty.

Dan Skelton’s pair Carlos Felix and John Locke, plus the Henderson-trained Paros, make up the sextet.