Harry’s Aintree Debrief

Thursday 7th

Too Friendly ran well but got a bit tired on the run to the last. He might have been a bit flat from his run at Cheltenham. Obviously in this grade the competition is hot and we were pitching him into the deep end really. He hasn’t run badly, but handicaps may be more his thing. Next season I think he can be really competitive in some nice handicaps.

The effects of the Gold Cup took their toll on Protektorat. I felt throughout the race that I was just struggling a little bit. He was getting in close to a few fences and wasn’t in as good a rhythm as I would have liked. From the back of four out I just couldn’t pick up. Normally stamina is his forte, but the others just quickened away from him. He kept on for fourth, but clearly he was feeling the effects of Cheltenham. He’ll have a nice summer holiday now and we’re really excited for next season with him.

Marracudja could never quite get into the race in the Foxhunters after a bit of a messy start. Tristan Durrell had a great ride round on him on his first start over the National fences, which is very exciting for any jockey. He jumped round well and gave his connections plenty of excitement too.

Latenightpass was brilliant. Gina gave him a fantastic ride and he was well trained by Tom Ellis. They had left him fresh for this race and it did the trick. Well done to them all.

King D’Argent missed a few fences on the way round, which stopped his rhythm a bit and I had to get him going again, but he stayed on well from the back of two out. When it all comes right for this horse, there’s a good handicap to be won with him.

I was happy with Kateira. She switched off nicely, but just didn’t quite have the pace to get into the race. She stayed on really well all the way up the straight, galloped strongly through the line and took a bit of pulling up, which is always a good sign. We were delighted by the way she finished her race off. She’s definitely going to want a trip in time.

Friday 8th

Langer Dan was brilliant. He went round the inner like a little motorbike! I got a great run round – he jumped and travelled well and I always felt like I was in control. I’m glad he got his day in the sun, which he deserved. He’s been lightly raced this year, so we might just keep our eyes open and see if there’s a race for him at Sandown.

Lucky Max has been a bit unfortunate in his last couple of runs. He got brought down at Cheltenham and nearly got brought down again at Aintree, which meant he lost all chance. We’re just going to have to build his confidence up now and make sure he has a good clear round next time.

Dropping Allmankind in at the back of the field definitely sparked him up a bit. He was quite keen and wasn’t really concentrating much on his fences. To be honest, I was happier with his run than the finishing position suggested. The old zest was there. He’s a dual Grade One winner and while it might be hard to win those sorts of races with him again, things will fall right for him. We’ve just got to change things with him a bit, and we’ll be riding him with a bit of patience. I think he will get used to taking a lead and learning to relax behind runners. There are still plenty of races to be won with him.

Duke Of Bronte travelled well. I thought I was going to go close running down the back straight and turning in, but he didn’t stay once he jumped the third last. I think this horse needs two-and-a-half miles on soft ground to be seen at his best. There should be some good handicaps in him next season.

Spiritofthegames took a bit of time to warm up, as he always does in his races, but he ran a great race once again. Once I had jumped three or four fences he got going and then jumped really well and stayed on all the way to the line. He’s ultra-consistent and is a joy to have around.

Faivoir ran his usual consistent race. The handicapper has a hold of him at the moment though. When he drops down the weights a bit you’ll see him back winning again.

Saturday 10th

Flash The Steel was a bit disappointing. I thought he’d run a bit better than that. I suppose he’s an older horse now and we may have to lower our sights a little bit. He’s been working well and the ability is still there, so he can still win races. We’ll just drop down a grade and hopefully he be competitive again.

It was heartbreaking for everyone connected with Elle Est Belle. We’d had her since she was three, we had broken her in and she had been such a great mare for us. She was improving and had a long career ahead of her.

It’s so hard not to get attached to these horses. We spend every day with them. It’s very tough for her owners, for Rebecca who looked after her and Ellie who rode her every day. We’re all still very cut up about it and it’s definitely the hardest thing about our job.

I’ve been around horses all my life and it never gets any easier. It’ll be hard to replace her.

Third Time Lucki was travelling quite well until he made a very bad mistake at the fourth last and nearly came down. He soon came back onto the bridle but then weakened from two out. He’s a novice and hopefully he can learn from his mistakes. Next season I think some fast run handicaps, where he can come off a strong gallop, will suit him.

Molly Ollys Wishes has had a long old season and has done really well, winning at Ascot and Wetherby. She ran well until the turn in and then just couldn’t pick up anymore. She needs a holiday now. Her sire Black Sam Bellamy’s offspring tend to improve with age, so hopefully she’s still got more to come and there is lots to look forward to with her next season.

Shan Blue has had a bit of an up and down year. He was a bit rusty early in the race and took some time to warm up. Once I’d done a circuit he got going well and I felt like I was well in control at the cross-fence. When I jumped three out I thought he’d pick up and go away, but he just kept galloping rather than quickening up. We had hoped that he could make a mockery of his handicap mark of 148, but I suppose when you look back he hasn’t exactly had the smoothest of seasons. It was a good solid run and we probably bumped into a decent horse. It’s a little disappointing to get beaten, but at least he’s finished his season with a good effort and we’ll look forward to next season.

Blaklion has been a star this season. When I jumped Becher’s for a second time I thought I could get into the race, but he just never had the pace. I felt from Valentine’s I was struggling to keep in touch. He jumped around well once again and has given his connections lots of fun. He still loves the game and has lots of enthusiasm, so I’m sure he’ll be back racing again next season.

For Sam Waley-Cohen to announce his retirement and then go and win the National with his final ride was a fairytale.

He’s had a brilliant record around Aintree and gave Noble Yeats a great ride. I’ve obviously ridden against him quite a lot over the years and he’s always been a great competitor.  He’s gone out at the very top and I’d like to wish him a very happy retirement.

This week

We’ve got a few runners on Wednesday across three meetings. I go to Southwell, where hopefully Farmer’s Gamble won’t be too far away in the three-mile handicap hurdle.

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