Party Rock: landed the opener at odds of 33-1
PICTURE: Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos)
Reports: Aintree, Friday
Crabbie’s Topham Chase (Grade 3 handicap) 2m5f, 5yo+
EASTLAKE held off Fairy Rath in a thrilling finish to this fiercely competitive handicap over the big fences. The JP McManus-owned 22-1 shot, third in this race two years ago off 4lb lower, always looked to be travelling best but had to knuckle down to see of the longtime leader on the run-in, who was filling the same spot from 12 months ago.
Distime and Third Intention filled third and fourth spots in what was a rough race.
The Jonjo O’Neill-trained ten-year-old had not won a race since December 2013, but he’d run well in some top contests during that period, including in this event two years ago and when second in last season’s Grand Annual.
All his previous victories had been around two miles, but this full brother to 2014 World Hurdle hero More Of That stuck his neck out for his pilot Barry Geraghty when challenged at the elbow and ground it out to the line.
“I said to Barry he’s never won over further than two miles before so just keep giving him a chance if you can,” said O’Neill. “He jumps great and everything went according to plan really.”
It was also a top performance from the runner-up, who just found one too good in this race once again. The pair were clear of the remainder.
Ruby Walsh was stood down for the day after a second consecutive fall, while Gullinbursti fell and was fatally injured.
Also on Friday
Alder Hey Children’s Charity Handicap Hurdle (Grade 3) 2m4f, 4yo+
PARTY ROCK made it third time-lucky in this 2m4f handicap hurdle as he sprung a 33-1 surprise in the opening race at Aintree on Friday, writes Tony McFadden.
Party Rock fell in the race when holding every chance two years ago and was a creditable sixth last season, but he was an authoritative winner this time for the in-form Jennie Candlish team.
Champagne At Tara was five lengths back in second, while 7-1 co-favourite Starchitect was a head further back in third. Sky Khan finished fourth.
The lead changed hands a few times during the contest but Party Rock was never too far off the pace under Sean Quinlan. He was still going well as they entered the straight and established a decisive advantage on the run to the final flight.
“I knew my lad would stay so I sent him on early and he was just idling a bit in front,” the winning rider said. “He put down on me at the last but he picked up again.”
Jennie Candlish, who rides Party Rock at home every day, was understandably thrilled and said: “He is such a special horse but has not had much luck. It’s an emotional day.”
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