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Ratings Update: Grand National and Aintree Grade 1s


John Ingles provides the Timeform ratings reaction to I Am Maximus' Grand National and all the other big races at Aintree.


Where else to start but with a top-class performance from Grand National winner I Am Maximus (167 from 161+) who put up the best effort seen in the race this century. Well in at the weights after thrashing last year’s runner-up Vanillier in the Bobbyjo Chase at Fairyhouse last time, I Am Maximus joined 1999 winner Bobbyjo and 2006 winner Numbersixvalverde in winning at Aintree a year after landing the Irish equivalent. Saving every yard round the inner under Paul Townend, I Am Maximus shot clear after the Elbow to win by seven and a half lengths, such a clear-cut success seeming very unlikely given how many were still in contention at the final fence. A Cheltenham Gold Cup would place more pressure on his jumping technique, but I Am Maximus is close to that standard in terms of ability now, albeit still a stone adrift of stablemate Galopin des Champs who twice beat him soundly at Leopardstown over the winter.

I Am Maximus was chased home by a trio who’ve all made the first five in at least one Gold Cup in the past, with Delta Work (ran up to master rating of 160) staying on to go one place better than he had when third to Noble Yeats two years earlier. 2021 Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Minella Indo (161 from 157+) might not be up to that standard anymore but still showed plenty of dash, briefly looking the winner on the run to the Elbow but even so going the closest among Gold Cup winners to adding a Grand National to his cv since Garrison Savannah was runner-up in 1991. Like the second and third, Galvin (157 from 158) was denied a run at the Cheltenham Festival when the Cross Country was washed out but was a closing fourth this time a year on from unseating at the first.

That was the fate of last year’s winner Corach Rambler this time in what was a remarkably incident-free race overall which resulted in 21 of the 32 starters (two short of the new reduced maximum) getting round, many of them still in contention on the long run from the third last in a race run at a less frenetic gallop than usual on soft ground and with a standing start meaning there was less of a rush on the now shorter run to the resited first fence. With a minimum BHA rating of 146 required just to get a run, the days of lower-rated dour stayers are probably a thing of the past at Aintree, while Irish domination was another feature of the field, the winning trainer saddling more runners than all the British-trained representatives put together.

Gold Cup form was upheld in the Bowl Chase, though Gerri Colombe (remains 174) didn’t need to repeat the form of his Cheltenham second in a slowly-run race which made it less of a test than was probably ideal for him. Even so, he was well on top despite having just half a length to spare over Ahoy Senor (166x from 153x) who jumped better than usual at a track which really brings out the best in him and he ran about as well as he ever has. There was a big run too in third from novice Corbetts Cross (164 from 158+) who just lacked a late turn of foot in a race that tested speed but whose run augured well for his prospects at the highest level next season.

Some prolific winners lined up for the Melling Chase and Jonbon (rating adjusted downwards, 170 from 173) got back to winning ways after a surprise defeat last time, showing more than enough stamina on his first try beyond two miles. While that gives him more options next season, he could reportedly drop back to two miles at Punchestown for another meeting with El Fabiolo after having to miss the Queen Mother Champion Chase. The first three from the Ryanair Chase finished behind Jonbon but in a different order to Cheltenham, with Conflated (167 from 165) best of that trio this time a length and a quarter behind the winner and the same distance ahead of Protektorat (remains 168) in third. Conflated was sharpened up by first-time cheekpieces under an attacking ride while Protektorat ran a fine race in defeat.

Irish-trained horses won all three Grade 1 novice chases after Britain’s leading pair in that division, Grey Dawning (160 from 161p) and Ginny’s Destiny (158 from 159p), both failed to fire in the Manifesto Novices’ Chase. Unlike in the Turners at Cheltenham, it was the latter who fared the better this time, but only by a head, and neither had any answer to the Arkle third Il Etait Temps (162 from 156) who found some improvement for a test of speed at the longer trip, running out the nine-length winner, though his jumping remains a cause for concern in open company next year.

Another boost for the Arkle form came when Found A Fifty (158 from 156), runner-up to Gaelic Warrior at Cheltenham, won the Maghull Novices’ Chase in a tremendous finish with Master Chewy (156 from 153) who’d fallen two out in the Arkle. Pulling out all the stops after being headed, Found A Fifty got back up for a head win as the pair pulled clear, and while the winner might fall a little short of the very best next season, he could benefit from a step back up in trip.

On a day when he had three Grade 1 winners, J. P. McManus had the first two in the Mildmay Novices’ Chase in which Inothewayurthinkin (158p from 155p) followed up his wide-margin Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir victory at Cheltenham with another clear-cut success, coming home four lengths clear of Iroko (154p from 144p) who showed plenty of improvement on just his third start over fences after proving no threat in the Turners. Both add to their owners’ embarrassment of riches among promising young staying chasers, though the winner’s jumping needs more polish if he’s to win at the highest level next season.


The principals in the latest Aintree Hurdle weren’t in the same league as Night Nurse and Monksfield, the winners of four Champion Hurdles between them who dead-heated in an epic 1977 renewal of the race, but they went close to recreating a similar result, though this time three horses were involved rather than just two, while a lengthy stewards enquiry added further drama although didn’t change the result. Only a nose and a short head separated Impaire Et Passe (remains 162), Bob Olinger (159 from 160) and Langer Dan (159 from 148), with the last-named being not just the big improver of the trio up in grade but also the meat in the sandwich between more imposing rivals after being forced to switch on the run-in. While Impaire Et Passe was notably strong in the market, he was perhaps lucky to keep the race after drifting left having performed better reverting to hold-up tactics. There’s still some untapped potential in a horse who was winning for the first time since last year’s Ballymore, not least as a chaser as he’s a good-topped sort.

In the absence of veteran Sire du Berlais who’d won the last two Liverpool Hurdles but was taken out lame on the day it was a trio of seven-year-olds who came to the fore in the latest renewal. Winner Strong Leader (158 from 143+) showed plenty of improvement on just his second try at three miles (third in the Cleeve Hurdle last time) and while he didn’t impress with his jumping he was suited by the test of stamina, forging clear after the last to beat the Stayers’ Hurdle fourth Buddy One (ran up to master rating of 154) by four and a quarter lengths with the Boyne Hurdle winner Hiddenvalley Lake (154 from 150) a close third. Although he’s a chasing type on looks, Strong Leader should be a leading player in the division next season, especially if brushing up his jumping.

The Anniversary Juvenile Hurdle provided further evidence, along with Jonbon’s Melling victory, that Nicky Henderson’s stable’s is in better form now and Sir Gino (153p from 148p), who missed the Triumph Hurdle for which he’d have started favourite, extended his unbeaten record to four races with a performance that reestablishes him as the leader of the four-year-olds’ generation ahead of the Triumph winner Majborough (rated 150p). There wasn’t much depth to this contest but Sir Gino reeled in the rather keen Triumph runner-up Kargese (142 from 140+) despite some less than fluent jumping in the straight.

The three Grade 1 novice hurdles for older horses all went to runners who were placed at Cheltenham. Mystical Power (151 from 148p) and Firefox (150 from 147p) had been placed behind Slade Steel in the Supreme and fought out the finish of the Top Novices’ Hurdle clear of the rest, with Mystical Power seeing his race out better this time and Firefox keeping on well too, the latter in particular remaining an exciting chasing prospect for next season.

The placed horses from the Albert Bartlett met again in the Sefton Novices’ Hurdle, though the positions were reversed this time with Dancing City (148 from 142), already a Grade 1 winner at the Dublin Racing Festival, keeping on well after leading at the last to beat The Jukebox Man (remains 147) who couldn’t quite repeat his Cheltenham effort after being pestered for the lead this time. Both the first two should do well over fences next term.

The Mersey Novices’ Hurdle looked like bringing together siblings and former stablemates Caldwell Potter and Brighterdaysahead (remains 139p) but the former’s first start for Paul Nicholls after his record sale from Gordon Elliott was scuppered by an infected foot. That left his half-sister to get back to winning ways, though she didn’t need to improve to win with plenty in hand, looking very much at home back up in trip and readily pulling seven and a half lengths clear of stablemate Staffordshire Knot (136p from 133p). If looks and pedigree are anything to go by, she’ll make a smashing chaser. Incidentally her Cheltenham conqueror in the Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle Golden Ace missed the Top Novices’ Hurdle with a bruised foot.

While both Dan Skelton and Paul Nicholls were on the scoresheet over the three days at Aintree, Willie Mullins trumped both with I Am Maximus’ huge prize adding to the Grade 1 wins for Il Etait Temps, Impaire Et Passe, Mystical Power and Dancing City, putting him in pole position to win a first trainers’ title in Britain with two weeks of the season remaining.


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Free Daily Race Pass (Result)


Sunday 26 May
Daniel Tudhope silk Daniel Tudhope
K. R. Burke
C. T. Keane silk C. T. Keane
P. Twomey, Ireland
Ryan Moore silk Ryan Moore
Aidan O'Brien, Ireland
Go to full race


17:45 KELSO

1st Henry Brooke silk 1. GALE MAHLER (IRE) 5/42.25f
2nd Conor O'Farrell silk 2. BEAU DELLA (IRE) 85/403.12
3rd Mr John Dawson silk 6. LEWESDON DANCER 25/126
J: Henry Brooke  
All 11 ran.


1st Jonjo O'Neill Jr. silk 3. CAWTHORNE BANKER (IRE) 7/42.75f
2nd Freddie Gordon silk 1 1. HAPPY BOY (FR) 85/403.12
3rd Rex Dingle silk 12 6. SARSEN (USA) 6/17
All 8 ran.


1st G. F. Carroll silk 11. FAIRYTALE PRINCESS (IRE) 20/121
2nd C. D. Hayes silk 14. GRAPPA NONINO (IRE) 10/111
3rd N. M. Crosse silk 19. RAIN (GER) 14/115
4th Shane Foley silk 6. BAY OF SANIBEL (GER) 4/15jf
17 ran. NRs: 2  5 


1st Harry Skelton silk 1. MR HOPE STREET (IRE) 5/42.25f
2nd K. Brogan silk 1 8. GETAWAY WITH YOU 7/24.5
T: Dan Skelton  
7 ran. NRs: 7 

17:10 KELSO

1st Mr Milo Herbert silk 5. YIPPEE KI YAY (IRE) 1/12f
2nd Mr John Dawson silk 4. SUPER CITIZEN 10/111
3rd Miss Ellie Callwood silk ½ 6. BOTHWELL BRIDGE (IRE) 11/43.75
J: Mr Milo Herbert (7)  
9 ran. NRs: 2  7 


1st Adam Wedge silk 6. DANZINI (IRE) 4/15
2nd Ben Godfrey silk 3. DEAR RALPHY (IRE) 5/16
J: Adam Wedge  
T: Keiran Burke  
All 7 ran.


1st Ben Martin Coen silk 3. HANALIA (IRE) 11/26.5
2nd Ryan Moore silk 4. LILY HART (IRE) 2/13f
3rd C. D. Hayes silk 8. SIDIZA (IRE) 8/19
8 ran. NRs: 5 


1st Chris Ward silk 7. CHEF DE TROUPE (FR) 18/119
2nd Sean Bowen silk 1. HOMME D'UN SOIR (FR) 5/23.5
J: Chris Ward (3)  
T: Tony Forbes  
6 ran. NRs: 3 

16:35 KELSO

1st Danny McMenamin silk 5. BARON BRIGGS (IRE) 9/43.25f
2nd Henry Brooke silk 7. DERWENT DEALER (IRE) 15/28.5
7 ran. NRs: 3 
Go to Horse Racing Results