Doom Bar Aintree Hurdle
|Grade 1, Aintree 15:25
2m 4f, Class 1
|Thursday 9th April 2015|
1 Jezki 3/1
2 Rock On Ruby 7/2
3 Volnay De Thaix 8/1
NR: Melodic Rendezvous
6 ran Distances: 13l, 1½l, 6l
TIME 4m 48.80s (slow by 5.80s)
Jezki makes amends for Cheltenham by taking the Doom Bar Aintree Hurdle under Tony McCoy
Racing got the result it wanted - a winner for A P McCoy at his final Crabbie's Grand National Festival.
The winner, who is trained by Jessie Harrington, scored easily after market rival Arctic Fire fell at the final flight when the pair were upsides. Both the horse and jockey got to their feet, but Walsh was stood down by doctors for the rest of the day.
McCoy said: "With Arctic Fire falling it made it a bit easier and I'm glad to see Ruby and Arctic Fire get up. I knew it was going to be a hard race and at the second-last I thought he might have me beat, but 50 yards from the last hurdle I was still sticking in there. My horse is bred to stay and he won over two and a half miles at Fairyhouse last year so whether we would have won had Arctic Fire stood up I don't know, but it would have been close.
"I'm just trying to keep things as normal as possible and do my job. I can leave the worrying until after I walk out of here on Saturday night - I have mixed emotions because I would love to win the National, but I don't want it to be my final ride. I really don't want to retire, but if I win the race I'll do retirement after that.
"I've been very lucky to have ridden more winners than anyone else, but I've also ridden a lot more losers - you never stop weighing up whether it has gone wrong or right.
"Aintree is a great place and a meeting I've always enjoyed, and I'm not just saying that because I'm standing here. They are very friendly people and they make it one of the highlights of the jump jockey's year."
Jezki, who won the Stan James Champion Hurdle in 2014, was given a 14/1 quote for next year's running of that race by Paddy Power.
Doom Bar Aintree Hurdle (Grade 1)
£200,000 added, 4yo plus, 2m 4f, Class 1
Going: Good to Soft, Good in places
|Pos||Dist||Horse SP||Jockey Weight||Trainer||Age|
|1st||Jezki (IRE) 3/1||A P McCoy
|Mrs J Harrington||7|
|2nd||13||Rock On Ruby (IRE) 7/2||N D Fehily
|3rd||1½||Volnay De Thaix (FR) 8/1||D Bass
|N J Henderson||6|
|4th||6||Blue Heron (IRE) 8/1||Harry Skelton
|5th||3½||Vaniteux (FR) 16/1||Nico de Boinville
|N J Henderson||6|
|F||Arctic Fire (GER) 15/8f||R Walsh
|W P Mullins||6|
|NR||Melodic Rendezvous 25/1||Non Runner||J Scott||9|
'HE HAS REALLY RUN HIS HEART OUT,' SAYS HARRINGTON
Jezki took the Doom Bar Aintree Hurdle in fine style for trainer Jessica Harrington and jockey A P McCoy, capitalising on Arctic Fire's fall at the final hurdle to win by 13 lengths from second-placed Rock On Ruby.
Jessica Harrington said: "It's great to get him back into the winner's enclosure. We won the Champion Hurdle last year and the Champion Hurdle at Punchestown and we thought, 'Jesus, this will be a piece of cake', but then we ran into Hurricane Fly three times and then Faugheen at Cheltenham. So I'm delighted he's won.
"This horse really did need to win a race and I am delighted he has won today.They've been hard races - and when you are defending champion you have to have them ready for the first race of the year, which was the Morgiana Hurdle at Punchestown in November. He's been on the go since then, and stepping up to two and a half miles here, only three weeks after Cheltenham - and we thought we had him spot on for Cheltenham - he's really run his heart out. He was great today."
When asked whether Jezki will now head to Punchestown to emulate last year's victory, she said: "Today is the plan - I have no idea what the next plan is."
RUBY ROCKED AT FINAL FLIGHT
Rock On Ruby finished placed in the Doom Bar Aintree Hurdle for the third successive year this afternoon.
The 7/2 shot could have finished even closer to the winner but was hampered by the fall of 15/8 favourite Arctic Fire at the final flight, which allowed the Jessica Harrington-trained gelding to coast home in isolation.
Trainer Harry Fry was delighted with the performance of his 10-year-old after the race.
"He's run his usual rock solid race again," said Fry.
"Obviously, he's got tangled up at the last and Noel (Fehily - jockey) has done well to stay on board. We probably looked like we were being held at the time though.
"He always runs his race. We'll see how he comes out of this but he's in the Ladbrokes World Series Hurdle at Punchestown so we could head there.
"He's a hurdler through and through. He won't head over fences again - that was a one off. He was sick over Cheltenham and we've had to get him right for this but it's a credit to him that he was able to come back from that.
"He's been brilliant for us and continues to be so."
Nicky Henderson, who trained Volnay De Thaix to finish third and also fifth-placed Vaniteux, commented: "I was very happy with Volnay De Thaix, he enjoyed himself out in front and is going to make a lovely chaser.
"It's a similar story with both of them. We are biding our time with them until they go chasing next season. We'll pop them away now for the summer, there's nothing else for them to do."