Auteuil racecourse

Auteuil: Rhialco was a comfortable and a half length winner

Clayeux cool on Rhialco despite easy success

Report: France, Wednesday

Auteuil: Prix William Head (Listed Chase) 2m7½f, 5yo+

RHIALCO (Emmanuel Clayeux/Jonathan Plouganou) survived a serious mistake at the Auteuil's fearsome Judge de Paix open ditch to run out a comfortable three and a half length winner over Polidam.

The race was billed as a relatively simple task for Rhialco en route to next month's Grand Prix de Paris.

But while Plouganou described the classy nine-year-old's jumping as "impeccable" save for the one error, his trainer was far from thrilled with the performance.

"He wasn't his usual self and his jumping was timid," said Clayeux, who has overseen a remarkable comeback for Rhialco since he suffered a serious fall at Auteuil in October 2012.

"I didn't particularly train him for today and he wasn't completely tuned-up but, he was as fit as he was last time and I would have liked to see him dominate his rivals."

Clayeux wouldn't commit Rhialco to the Grand Steeple-Chase and said that his future programme would be governed by how he recovered from his exertions.

The Allier-based handler had opted for this race rather than take on the likes of Shannon Rock and Storm Of Saintly in the Group 3 Prix Ingre on Saturday.

Despite having plenty of ground to make up on his rivals following the mistake half way down the back straight, Plouganou soon had the son of Dom Alco back on an even keel and he was able to jump to the front at the final fence.

"He's still getting used to going back over the outside track here and he dragged his hind legs through the rail-ditch but, overall, I think he still had a pretty easy race," said Plouganou.

Also on Wednesday

Auteuil

Yellow Ball may not have cut much ice in last Sunday's Pris du President de la Republique but Venetia Williams enjoyed better luck with her second runner of the week in Paris, as Upepito finished second to favourite Tornade Precieuse in the 2m2½f chase.

David Cottin made most of the running aboard Upepito, who was making only his third start for since returning from 16 months off the track, during which time he joined Williams from Guillaume Macaire.

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.