Finians Rainbow - Aintree 13.04.2012

Finian's Rainbow is 10-1 with Paddy Power for the King George

  PICTURE: Edward Whitaker (  

Rainbow routs rivals with magic Melling win

Report: Aintree, Friday

John Smith's Melling Chase (Grade 1) 2m4f, 5yo+

FINIAN'S RAINBOW, who smashed through the rails on his way to the start, made light work of his seven rivals, and the step up in trip, running out a ready winner of the Melling Chase.

Jumped off in third, Barry Geraghty was the only rider to take close order with pacesetters Albertas Run and Poquelin, with the rest of the field sitting several lengths off the three market leaders.

Exiting the back straight, Wishfull Thinking, who has been largely disappointing this season, rediscovered himself and travelled up strongly onto the quarters of Finian's Rainbow, who was left in front as the two pacesetters faded.

The two pulled clear into the straight, and Wishfull Thinking only looked a momentary threat until Geraghty gave his mount a squeeze and powered clear on the bridle.

Trainer Nicky Henderson said: "I think last year, as a novice, he was trying to do everything ina rush. He grew up last summer for some reason and this whole season he's been a much more amenable horse.

"We've got a long summer to think about it [what route to take] but luckily we're in a nice position to be able to think about those things. He's won the Champion Chase, he's won this and he goes to bed with all the medals."

At the line the margin had stretched to seven lengths. As the leading two stretched clear, Albertas Run, who walked through several fences and was never travelling with his usual fluency, held off Forpadydeplasterer for third, a further 13 lengths adrift.

Finian's Rainbow had an eventful journey to the start, when something spooked him and he went crashing through the plastic white rails in front of the stands. It clearly had no affect on the Michael Buckley-owned nine-year-old and Paddy Power now make Nicky Henderson's charge a 10-1 shot for the King George.

After a difficult season for Wishfull Thinking, Philip Hobbs said: "It's good to see him back to something like his best after what's been a very frustrating season all round. There are only ten days to the two-miler at Punchestown so we'll have to see about that."

On Albertas Run, trainer and birthday-boy Jonjo O'Neill said: "He didn't jump as well as he can and never really looked like winning, but he's done us proud again with a first, a second and a third from three runs this season.

"I don't think Cheltenham left its mark. He might just have been feeling his leg again so that's it for the season. He definitely won't go to Punchestown."

As sporting sights go, few match the sheer excitement of 40 horses thundering towards the first fence at Aintree for the John Smith's Grand National.

A race steeped in history that always provides a story, the Grand National is the ultimate test of endurance and skill for both horse and jockey, as the pairing must navigate 30 treacherous fences, and then still have enough stamina to make a challenge on the run-in.

To manage a clear round in the 4m4f epic is no mean achievement, with the fences notoriously difficult and offering unique challenges.

Over the years, there have been countless memorable moments, Devon Loch's phantom leap in the 1956 contest, Foinavon's shock 100-1 win in 1967 and the brilliance of Red Rum, who took the chase on three occasions in 1973, 74 and 77.

In 1981 Aldaniti and Bob Champion completed a heartwarming tale when winning the race, as Aldaniti had recovered from a career-threatening injury while jockey Champion had battled back from cancer.

In 2011 the race provided another fairytale story as Donald McCain emulated his father and Aintree legend Ginger when winning with Ballabriggs - and that came just a year after champion jockey Tony McCoy finally gained victory in the race at the 15th time of asking.