Always Raining - Aintree 13.04.2012

He just took off: Always Waining surges to a Topham hat-trick at Aintree

  PICTURE: Martin Lynch (racingpost.com/photos)  

Always Waining lands historic Topham treble

Report: Aintree, Friday

John Smith´s Topham Chase Handicap (Grade 3)
2m5f

ALWAYS WAINING notched a remarkable Topham hat-trick under Tom O'Brien. The 11-1 shot is the first horse to win the handicap for a third time in the race's 63-year history.

Three contenders were in line at the last but the Peter Bowen-trained 11-year-old put on the turbos to surge clear to a comfortable success.

Chance Du Roy finished four and a half lengths back in second, Fistral Beach was third and the ever-prominent Aimigayle came home in fourth.  

O'Brien said: "That's absolutely amazing. He gives everyone who rides him a really a great spin round here. I'm absolutely delighted about that.

"He heard the crowd and just took off. This lad just took off, amazing."

There were 19 finishers from the 26-strong field which was led along by 6-1 favourite Little Josh under Sam Twiston-Davies with Aimigayle in close order. The first four home were always prominent and when LittleJosh started to surrender his position at the Open Ditch they were all well placed to play their hand.

Tom OBrien

Absolutely amazing: Tom O'Brien

  PICTURE: Mark Cranham (racingpost.com/photos) 

Richard Johnson was first act on 16-1 shot Chance Du Roy, closely followed by Fistral Beach. The winner was travelling smoothly into serious contention approaching the last.

The trio were in a line for a brief spell, but at the Elbow the thrusters kicked in and Always Waining romped clear to a historic victory.

Bowen, who also won the Topham in 2007 with Dunbrody Millar, said: "The horse just loves Aintree. I wanted to go for the National but Peter [Douglas, owner] rang me yesterday and said that with the ground getting softer he wanted to go for the Topham. If he's still got his enthusiasm we'll bring him back next year and try to win it again."

Third-placed Fistral Beach failed to return to the winner's enclosure but trainer Paul Nicholls reported there was nothing amiss. He said: "He's absolutely fine - he'd just got a bit hot. They put a lot into these races so I should think that's it for the season, but he travelled and jumped well and ran a good race."

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.