With the Grand National Festival upon us, last month’s Cheltenham Festival is now a mere distant memory as we flick the kettle on and scour through the racecards looking for potential winners across the three days of top-class National Hunt racing, which will of course be topped off by the Grand National itself at 5:15pm on Saturday.
However, whilst the Grand National steals the show, don’t put all your eggs into one basket, as there is still plenty more to get excited about. Four Grade 1 races feature on day one (Liverpool’s NHS Day) and day two (Ladies’ Day) before three more top-grade races set the tone on Saturday for the Grand National.
Day one is headlined by the Bowl, which is often littered with Gold Cup entries from the prior Prestbury Park meeting, with the 4YO Juvenile Hurdle and the Aintree Hurdle nestled on either side. The latter is the one we are going to focus on in this article. So, with the latest renewal of the race set to take place on Thursday, let’s take a look at the last three winners of the Aintree Hurdle.
2019 – Supasundae
Supasundae beat Duveur D’Air, who was the odds-on favourite in the Aintree odds, to win the race for jockey Robbie Power and trainer Jessica Harrington. The then nine-year-old was 15/2 heading into the race after a disappointing seventh in the Stayers’ Hurdle at Cheltenham. However, the longer trip seems to suit Supadundae as he beat the Henderson-trained favourite over the line by a length, denying the English trainer a hat-trick of successive Aintree Hurdle triumphs. It was a race which brought Irish trainer Willie Mullins back down to earth as Faugheen pulled up earlier on before Melon fell as they approached home.
2018 – L’Ami Serge
L’Ami Serge was getting a bit of a reputation for not putting in enough effort in the closing stages of races. However, the Henderson-trained horse certainly dug deep to secure a victory in the 2018 renewal of the Aintree Hurdle, as he romped home three lengths clear of Supasundae. That put to bed a rather disappointing winless streak which spanned back across four races, including the 2018 Stayers’ Hurdle.
Nonetheless, jockey Daryl Jacob was delighted with the performance, saying afterwards: “It was a very good performance. I was quite keen to come back to two and a half miles because it suits him well. He’s tough and when he’s on his A-game like that, he’s a very, very talented horse.”
2017 – Buveur d’Air
Buveur D’Air brought a wealth of success to the yard of Henderson, and his victory in the 2017 Aintree Hurdle came at a time when he looked truly unbeatable. After winning the Grade 1 Top Novices’ Hurdle at the Grand National Festival in 2016, the horse went on a fantastic winning streak, which included victory in the 2017 Champion Hurdle just a matter of weeks prior to the Aintree meeting. The wins continued after the five-length victory in Merseyside as well, with another six victories, including a second triumph in the Champion Hurdle. A defeat in the 2018 Christmas Hurdle ended an 11-race winning run which went on for almost two years.