Wednesday 25 April 2018

Politologue puts Nicholls back into the spoylight with Melling glory

Trainer Paul Nicholls. Photo: PA
Trainer Paul Nicholls. Photo: PA

Keith Hamer

Politologue thrust Paul Nicholls and Sam Twiston-Davies back into the limelight with a thrilling victory in the JLT Melling Chase at Aintree.

By his own admission the master of Ditcheat is short of the kind of superstars that once lit up National Hunt racing in Britain and for much of this season he has been forced to watch his great rival Nicky Henderson steal the show.

The two-and-a-half-mile contest was billed as a match between two Irish challengers in Queen Mother Champion Chase runner-up Min and Ryanair Chase hero Balko Des Flos, but 11/1 shot Politologue had other ideas and got the better of a dust-up with Min by a neck.

Nicholls said: "It was a brilliant ride by Sam. He just didn't finish his race at Cheltenham, so we had a look at his wind and we put a tongue tie on.

Politologue ridden by Sam Twiston-Davies on their way to victory in the JLT Melling Chase at Aintree. Photo: Reuters/Matthew Childs
Politologue ridden by Sam Twiston-Davies on their way to victory in the JLT Melling Chase at Aintree. Photo: Reuters/Matthew Childs

"The great thing now, he is staying. We always thought he'd be a King George horse, but we dropped him back in trip. In time he might get three miles."

It was a poignant success for owner John Hales, who lost the hugely popular grey One Man in this race two decades ago.

He said: "It is 20 years ago today I lost him, but thank you Aintree. Of course it still hurts, but we have won the Grand National (with Neptune Collonges) and we have another great grey now."

There were more than a few tears shed after Lalor (14/1) claimed an emotional success in the Betway Top Novices' Hurdle for Kayley Woollacott.

Shocked

The racing world was left shocked in January after it was announced trainer Richard Woollacott, who was based in South Molton in Devon, had died aged 40.

Lalor provided Woollacott with his first big-race success when winning the Grade Two bumper at this meeting a year ago and this time struck Grade One gold under champion jockey Richard Johnson at 14/1.

After a top-level treble on Thursday, Henderson claimed his fourth and fifth Grade One winners of the meeting with Terrefort and Santini.

Terrefort, runner-up in the JLT Novices' Chase at Cheltenham, comfortably went one better as 3/1 favourite for the Betway Mildmay Novices' Chase in the hands of Daryl Jacob.

Santini, third in the Albert Bartlett at Prestbury Park, justified 6/4 favouritism in the Doom Bar Sefton Novices' Hurdle.

Reflecting on the week so far, Henderson said: "Obviously we've got some very good horses and you can't go without them, but I have to say everybody has worked their socks off."

Ultragold (14-1) relished the Grand National fences once more to claim back-to-back victories in the Randox Health Topham Chase for trainer Colin Tizzard and jockey Harry Cobden.

Trainer Tom Lacey and jockey Robbie Dunne combined to land the Alder Hey Children's Charity Handicap Hurdle with 20-1 shot Jester Jet, while the concluding Weatherbys Racing Bank Standard Open NH Flat Race went to 25-1 chance Portrush Ted, trained by Warren Greatrex and ridden by Gavin Sheehan.

Irish Independent

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