Tag Archive for: grand sefton

Mac Tottie enters National frame with Grand Sefton victory

Mac Tottie sparked dreams of a tilt at Grand National glory after enhancing trainer Peter Bowen’s excellent record over the famous fences in the Betway Grand Sefton Handicap Chase at Aintree.

The Welsh trainer has saddled four winners of the Topham Chase at the National meeting, with Dunbrody Millar’s 2007 triumph followed by the popular Always Waining’s hat-trick between 2010 and 2012.

Bowen also came close to winning the big one in 2007, with Mckelvey beaten three-quarters of a length by Silver Birch – and in Mac Tottie, he believes he has another contender for the Aintree spectacular.

A well-beaten last of four on his seasonal reappearance at Fontwell early last month, the eight-year-old appeared invigorated by the switch to the National fences, jumping well throughout for the trainer’s son James.

The well-fancied Senior Citizen loomed up looking a big danger on the run-in, but 20-1 shot Mac Tottie dug deep to see him off by a length – with Manwell a further 12 lengths behind in third.

“That was good. It’s the fifth time we’ve won round those fences – it’s been a lucky place for us,” said the winning trainer.

“I have no idea why they seem to take to it. We do a lot of loose schooling, and they seem to find their own way from there.”

Bowen added: “We just missed out in the National with Mckelvey, and hopefully this will end up being a National horse – I think he’ll stay.

“He came here in good form. Things didn’t go quite right for him last time, because he lost a shoe and didn’t really stride out after that.

“He could come back here for the Becher next month, but we’ll see how he is and speak to the owners.”

The winner rider was thrilled to claim his first victory over the National fences, adding his name to the roll of honour in a race his brother Sean has won twice for champion trainer Paul Nicholls.

“It’s unbelievable. To do it for my dad makes it extra special,” he said.

“I didn’t miss one fence. He’s only small, but he’s so neat and has got loads of scope.

“I got to the front way too soon, but the loose horse helped me out for a little while, and he probably kept a little bit up his sleeve.

“I’d ride any of dads’ horses over a National fence. It’s nice to come here and have the confidence in them to go and jump.”

Sefton starting point for National hope Time To Get Up

Time To Get Up sets off on the road to a potential tilt at the Grand National with a first spin over the famous fences in the Betway Grand Sefton Handicap Chase at Aintree.

Moved from its traditional slot in December, Saturday’s two-mile-five-furlong contest will be the first race to take place over the National fences in front of a full crowd since the Becher Chase two years ago.

Time To Get Up is well fancied to strike gold for Jonjo O’Neill and JP McManus, having rounded off last season with victory in the Midlands Grand National at Uttoxeter.

The eight-year-old is already a general 20-1 shot for the world’s most famous steeplechase in early April, and those odds are sure to contract if he can make a successful reappearance on Merseyside.

O’Neill said: “We are having a go over the Grand National fences and we will see how we get on, but the ground looks perfect for him.

“He is in good form at home and hopefully he will run respectably.

“He won the Midlands National last season, and it would be nice to go for the Grand National this season, but we will have to see how he gets on here first.

“He is a big lad and hopefully he will love those fences, but we will find out on Saturday.”

Hogan’s Height on his way to winning the Grand Sefton two years ago
Hogan’s Height on his way to winning the Grand Sefton two years ago (David Davies/PA)

Time To Get Up’s rivals include the 2019 Grand Sefton hero Hogan’s Height, who completed the course for a second time when down the field in the Grand National seven months ago.

The veteran’s trainer Jamie Snowden reports his charge in rude health for his bid to regain his crown, following a recent comeback run over hurdles at Newton Abbot.

He said: “He’s in great shape. It was wonderful when he won the Grand Sefton a couple of years ago, and we never really got lift-off last season when the poor chap ended up with one thing going wrong after another.

“It’s nice to really get him back, and he had a good blow out the other day at Newton Abbot.

“He’s 4lb higher than when he won it in 2019, but he goes there with a chance.”

The Lambourn-based trainer has an interesting second string to his bow in the form of Thomas Macdonagh, who was last seen finishing second in a novice handicap chase at Haydock in March.

“He’s fit and ready to go. We wanted to get a prep run into him, but the ground was too quick,” Snowden added.

“He loves soft ground. I think there’s mileage in his handicap mark, and he’s jumped really well over the National fences in Lambourn.

“So long as there’s plenty of juice in the ground, he goes there with every chance.”

The Alan King-trained Senior Citizen is another horse with previous experience of the fences – having finished seventh behind Beau Bay in last year’s Grand Sefton and third in the Topham Chase in April.

The eight-year-old warmed up for his return to Aintree by winning a valuable handicap chase at Market Rasen three weeks ago.

King said: “The more it dries out the better for him, and it looks like it should be dry up to the race.

“He ran very well in this last year, but didn’t quite get home on heavy ground.

“He ran well in the Topham too, so we know he likes the fences.”

Cat Tiger was third in the Foxhunters’ Chase in the spring for owner-rider David Maxwell, giving trainer Paul Nicholls confidence for this handicap debut.

“He also had entries at Wincanton and Auteuil, but the Grand Sefton was the logical choice after he took to the National fences like a natural in the Foxhunters’,” the Ditcheat handler told Betfair.

“Cat Tiger and his owner rider David Maxwell enjoyed a brilliant spin that day, leading two out and only being caught at the elbow.

“He’s a horse that goes well fresh and must have a fair chance, running off a mark of 135.”

Irish hopes are carried by Edward O’Grady’s The West’s Awake and Spyglass Hill, whose trainer Henry de Bromhead famously teamed up with Rachael Blackmore to win this year’s Grand National with Minella Times.

Henry de Bromhead saddles Spyglass Hill
Henry de Bromhead saddles Spyglass Hill (Brian Lawless/PA)

Of Spyglass Hill, he said: “He’s had a couple of good runs. He ran well in the Munster National the other day, and we just thought maybe the drop back in trip might suit him.

“Hugh (Morgan, jockey) gets a great tune out of him, and it’s a great opportunity for him.

“He’s a great rider – he’s been with us for years and he’s doing really well, so (I’m) delighted for him.

“We’re looking forward to it.”

Newland back in hunt for big-race success at Aintree

Dr Richard Newland is seeking more Aintree glory on Saturday when he saddles Beau Bay and Caid Du Lin in the William Hill Grand Sefton Handicap Chase.

The Claines trainer – who saddled Pineau De Re to win the Grand National in 2014 – is giving Beau Bay a second try at the famous fences after finishing third in this race 12 months ago and he is keen to see if Caid Du Lin takes to them.

“Beau Bay is in good form. This has been his winter target. It doesn’t get any easier for him because he’s in a high grade,” said Newland.

Caid Du Lin (left) in action at Sandown
Caid Du Lin (left) in action at Sandown (Julian Herbert/PA)

“He ran a blinder in it last year. Charlie (Hammond) gets on well with him and it would be great to see him have another spin round Aintree.

“Whether he’s good enough that remains to be seen. It will be a good run if he gets round.”

Newland is hoping Caid Du Lin’s class might see him run a big race.

“He’s a talented horse on his day. He might enjoy the challenge. It’s 50-50 he might take to Aintree,” he said.

“He jumps a bit right-handed though and this might be the limit of his trip, but we thought it was worth a go as he has a touch of class.”

Might Bite at his peak won the King George at Kempton in 2017
Might Bite at his peak won the King George at Kempton in 2017 (Julian Herbert/PA)

Nicky Henderson feels the National obstacles may bring out a return back to form for Might Bite.

The once top-class staying steeplechaser has lost his way – but connections have not given up on him yet.

“He’s been in the wilderness,” said the Seven Barrows trainer this week, on a call hosted by Great British Racing.

“He won the RSA despite going via the car park, then went to Aintree and won. The following year he was second in the Gold Cup, but after that it hasn’t been easy.

“He lost that extra something special, his jumping wasn’t as accurate as it used to be and we even went cross-country racing last year, which he loved.

“His race at Ascot the other day, we and a lot of other people thought we saw serious glimpses of the old Might Bite, bowling along in front at a good gallop, jumping for fun, and a bit of fitness was all that caught him out.

“Nico (de Boinville) has always said he wanted to bring him back in trip, he can’t ride as he’s at Sandown. His biggest weapon is his jumping, he’s schooled over Aintree fences and he was a joy to watch.

“If he goes well who knows about the National, some of his owners had to be worked on to run in this! If he loved it you’d have to have a discussion.”

Donald McCain with his mum Beryl at the statue of his father, Ginger, at Aintree
Donald McCain with his mum Beryl at the statue of his father, Ginger, at Aintree (Martin Rickett/PA)

Donald McCain, who will always be intrinsically linked to Aintree, is expecting a decent run from Federici.

The 11-year-old is no stranger to these unique fences, having had five attempts.

He has finished fourth and fifth in the Becher Chase over further and McCain feels this distance might be a shade short for Federici.

“He’s in good nick this year – he’s won twice already and he loves the fences so he has plenty of experience over them,” said the Cheshire handler.

“Two-miles-six is just on the sharp side for him, but if it keeps raining it will make a big difference.

“He’s great round the fences, touch wood, and I think Brian (Hughes) is looking forward to riding him so fingers crossed.”

Huntsman Son had been set to be a leading player for Alex Hales, but the trainer did have ground concerns and he was declared a non-runner on raceday morning.

Grand Sefton plan for Might Bite

Might Bite is set to have a spin over the Grand National fences with Nicky Henderson eyeing next month’s William Hill Grand Sefton Handicap Chase at Aintree.

The 11-year-old recorded his last victory at the Merseyside venue back in 2018 when taking the Betway Bowl over regulation fences, one of his four Grade One triumphs that also encompass the 2017 King George VI Chase.

Might Bite has struggled to make his mark over the last two campaigns, prompting Henderson to try him in the cross-country chase at the Cheltenham Festival, where he thought the distance rather than the obstacles resulted in the gelding’s distant seventh place.

He finished fifth over three miles on his return at Ascot last month, but would be dropping back to two miles and five furlongs at Aintree – something jockey Nico de Boinville is eager to try.

Henderson said: “I’ve put him in the Grand Sefton and that’s what I’m thinking. Nico has always been keen to bring him back in trip, I’ve never quite agreed on that one, but here is an opportunity to do that.

“I think the trip round there will be fine and it will be better than the three-miles-six in the cross-country race at Cheltenham in December. I think he will be fine jumping those fences.

“He loved it at Ascot on his comeback and he has been in great form since.”

Also on course for Aintree on December 5 is Le Breuil, who enjoyed a spin around Newbury with classy stablemates Global Citizen and Kildisart on Tuesday.

The eight-year-old won the National Hunt Chase at the 2019 Festival, but failed to strike in five outings last term and was fourth on his return at Kelso last month, a run that more than satisfied trainer Ben Pauling.

He said: “We needed a lead horse for the other two (at Newbury) and he goes for the Becher Chase at Aintree.

“We think we have got the Le Breuil of old back. It has taken us a while to get him back from what was quite a tough assignment in the National Hunt Chase. Last season was a bit more pulling it all back together. His reappearance at Kelso was very promising.

“I think he will go to the Becher Chase in fabulous form.”