Imagine Cruising First In The Frame Top Novices' Hurdle
|Grade 2, Aintree 14:15
2m 103y, Class 1
|Friday 8th April 2016|
1 Buveur D'Air 11/4
2 Petit Mouchoir 40/1
3 Limini 11/10F
11 ran Distances: nk, ¾l, ¾l
TIME 4m 4.50s (slow by 11.50s)
Buveur D'Air edges out Petit Mouchoir in a thriller
Going into the 2016 Crabbie's Grand National Festival, trainer Nicky Henderson hoped that Buveur D'Air represented his best chance of a success and so it proved when the 11/4 chance scored by a neck.
The French-bred had to battle hard to get the better of the Willie Mullins-trained Petit Mouchoir, a 40/1 shot, with the runner-up's stablemate Limini (11/10 Fav) in third, eight lengths adrift.
"I know we won with the filly (Kayf Grace) in the bumper last night but I thought this one was our best chance," said Henderson. "We have always debated whether or not Buveur D'Air should go up to two and a half and that was the big question. But it was a question if we took on Yorkhill over two and a half tomorrow or Limini here. We seemed to have made the right call and got away with it.
"Noel (Fehily) gave him a lovely ride. He can be quite keen still and races like a two miler, but I bet you he is going to get the two and a half. Noel said that soft ground will be the key to him. He settles well and jumps well.
"We had ear plugs in at Cheltenham and then took them out at the start. Noel said from the moment he took them out he just came alive - probably a little bit too much. We left them in today and he has done everything right.
"He travelled like a good horse throughout the race. You are looking for Limini and then there is another one there. He took his time to get past the one in front and I think he stays well.
"He had to take on Altior at Cheltenham but that horse likes good ground and this fellow wants it softer so we should be able to keep the apart next season. I might pop Buveur D'Air over fences before we put him away for next season."
Henderson runs Triolo D'Alene and Hadrian's Approach in tomorrow's Crabbie's Grand National and said: "They are the best shots I have taken to the race for a long time. We've had seconds and thirds, even going back as far as Zongalero in 1979 and 1980, but we're going in with two with a chance tomorrow.
"Triolo D'Alene likes it around here, he has won a Topham Chase, and he's a classy horse who has also won a Hennessy. Good ground is essential for him so I am really hoping the rain doesn't arrive tonight. Hadrian's Approach is another good horse, he's won a bet365 Chase, and this has been the plan for both horses for a long time.
"We come here with hope but this is probably the best National for a very long time, probably ever, with so many good horses in there."
Top Novices' Hurdle (Grade 2)
£75,000 added, 4yo plus, 2m 103y, Class 1
Going: Good to Soft, Soft in places
|Pos||D||Horse SP||Jockey Weight||Trainer||Age|
|1st||Buveur D'Air (FR) 11/4||N D Fehily||N J Henderson||5|
|2nd||nk||Petit Mouchoir (FR) 40/1||D J Mullins
|W P Mullins||5|
|3rd||8||Limini (IRE) 11/10f||R Walsh
|W P Mullins||5|
|4th||¾||North Hill Harvey 25/1||Harry Skelton
|5th||¾||Bleu Et Rouge (FR) 8/1||B J Geraghty
|W P Mullins||5|
|6th||½||Agrapart (FR) 10/1||Lizzie Kelly
|7th||2¼||Ball D'arc (FR) 16/1||B J Cooper
|8th||26||Three Stars (IRE) 50/1||J J Burke
|H de Bromhead||6|
|PU||Marracudja (FR) 50/1||Sam Twiston-Davies
|P F Nicholls||5|
|UR||Altruism (IRE) 100/1||B Hughes
|UR||Gwafa (IRE) 16/1||R P McLernon
|P R Webber||5|
MULLINS PLEASED WITH PLACED PAIR
The second and third-placed horses, Petit Mouchoir (40/1) and Limini (11-10 favourite) were both trained by Willie Mullins.
The David Mullins-ridden Petit Mouchoir only went down to winner Buveur D'Air by a neck, while Cheltenham Festival heroine Limini, with Ruby Walsh in the saddle, was beaten a further eight lengths.
Mullins said: "I was delighted with Petit Mouchoir - he looked like he'd make a nice chaser for next year, with a great method of jumping, and Limini I think just ran too free. But it was still a good run coming on the back of Cheltenham. I can't complain; they ran well."