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Last Updated: Thursday, 1 April, 2004, 17:08 GMT 18:08 UK
Aintree: Day one
Iris's Gift wins the opening race of the Aintree meeting
Iris's Gift completed the Cheltenham-Aintree double with victory in the Martell Cognac Liverpool Hurdle on the opening day of the three-day Grand National meeting.

The grey, who dethroned champion Stayers' Hurdler at Cheltenham last month, jumped superbly to win the first race of the day.

One of the best tactical rides of the day came from Timmy Murphy who coolly switched 25-1 shot Al Eile to the inside rail before clinching victory in the Unwins Wine 4-Y-O Novices' Hurdle.

However, there was a sting in the tail when he was suspended for one day for using his whip in an incorrect place.

Ruby Walsh, leading rider at the Cheltenham Festival, had to wait until the final race of the day to get on the Aintree scoresheet before he guided Garde Champetre wo victory in Martell Mersey Novices' Hurdle.

Another decent-priced winner came in the shape of 12-1 Zibeline while Iris's Gift aside, the only favourite to oblige was Tidour.

1730 Martell Cognac Makro Mersey Novices' Hurdle
2m 4f

1 Garde Champetre (R Walsh) 9-2
2 Monet's Garden (A Dobbin) 7-1
3 Court Shareef (J Culloty) 16-1
13 ran. Dist: 1, hd.

Garde Champetre holds on to give the Ruby Walsh and Paul Nicholls team their first win of the meeting.

Coming to the last, several horses are in with a chance but all are tired and Garde Champetre manages to hang on for victory.

Favourite Inglis Drever, who was boxed in on the turn, summoned up a late burst of speed but it was too late and he had to settle for fourth place.

1655 Martell Cognac Beefeater Restaurants Handicap Hurdle
2m 4f

1 Zibeline (G Lee) 12-1
2 Unleash (R Johnson) 5-1jf
3 Redemption (C Llewellyn) 12-1
4 Colourful Life (R Walsh) 11-1
23 ran. Dist: 3,7.

Zibeline strikes late to earn victory for trainer Brian Ellison.

Favourite Unleash pounced to snatch the lead from Redemption just before the last but Zibeline left it even later under a cool ride from Graham Lee.

1620 Martell Cognac Red Rum Handicap Chase

1 Tidour (T Doyle) 5-1f
2 Armaturk (R McNally) 16-1
3 St Pirran (R Walsh) 6-1
14 ran. Dist: 9, sh hd.

Tidour makes amends for falling two out in the Arkle Chase at the Cheltenham Festival by coasting home for a nine-length victory.

The Paul Webber-trained eight-year-old cruised into the lead after the second last and extended his advantage after the final obstacle.

Things were much tighter for the places where Armaturk was given second after a photo finish.

1545 Martell Cognac Fox Hunters' Chase
2m 5

1 Forest Gunner (Mrs C Ford) 13-2
2 Sikander A Azam (Mr T Greenall) 11-2jf
3 Gun'N'Roses II (Mr J Jenkins) 11-2jf

The "amateurs' Grand National" - which is the first race run over fences at this year's meeting - sees a memorable win for Carrie Ford.

She is only the third woman to win the race and her victory - on a horse trained by her husband Richard - comes just 10 weeks after she gave birth.

Forest Gunner made a bad mistake at the second but after that jumped flawlessly.

He found himself in the lead a full seven fences out and was not troubled in the latter stages of the race although Sikander A Azam finished fast.

After the race, stewards fined all 25 jockeys 100 for failing to obey the instructions of the starter as he tried to get the race under way.

25 ran.

1510 Unwins Wine Group Anniversary 4-Y-O Novices' Hurdle
2m f

1 Al Eile (T Murphy) 25-1
2 Made In Japan (R Johnson) 7-1
3 My Will (R Walsh) 10-1
19 ran. Dist: , 6.

Triumph Hurdle winner Made In Japan makes a bold but unsuccessful bid to achieve the rare Cheltenham-Aintree double.

Instead, 25-1 shot Al Eile, trained by John Queally, becomes the first Irish-trained winner of the 2004 meeting.

Timmy Murphy cleverly switches the horse to the inside rail in the final stages of the race and then wins a battle with Made In Japan between the last two fences.

1435 Martell Cognac Cup Chase
3m 1f

1 Tiutchev (A McCoy) 11-2
2 First Gold (T Doumen) 6-4f
3 Hand Inn Hand (M Bradburne) 6-1
8 ran. Dist: 3, 3.

Tiutchev gets champion jockey and trainer partnership Tony McCoy and Martin Pipe onto the winners' board for the meeting by winning the big race of the day.

Favourite First Gold led for much of the way before Tiutchev took up the running at the second last.

Hand Inn Hand jumped well but just didn't seem to stay the trip and had to settle for third.

1400 Martell Cognac Laurel Pub Company Liverpool Hurdle
3m f

1 Iris's Gift (B Geraghty) 4-7f
2 Royal Rosa (G Lee) 11-1
3 Aine Dubh (J McCarthy) 80-1
8 ran. Dist: 2, 5

Iris's Gift, trained by Jonjo O'Neill, makes it a Cheltenham-Aintree double after leading for most of the race.

The grey, who is the reigning Stayers' Hurdle champion, jumped superbly throughout and held off the challenge of Royal Rosa after the last.

Rank outsider Aine Dubh ran on well to take third.

Day one highlights from Aintree

BBC website shows National
31 Mar 04  |  Horse Racing

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