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This is the fourth instalment in the Tote series, How the Placepot was won. This time, we shift the focus to Aintree’s Grand National meeting and a sizable dividend that was scooped by less than 50 units in 2016. 

Aintree presents a good opportunity to get involved with the Placepot, with many factors contributing to the increased likelihood of a larger dividend. 

The meeting comes so soon after the Cheltenham Festival, bringing the possibility of some heroes of the Festival disappointing after the excursions of the races at Prestbury Park. Others enter the frame of consideration with the thought they have been bookmarked for these races all year, as opposed to a Cheltenham afterthought.

Along with the uncertainty over horse performance, there are traditionally big field handicaps held at the Merseyside course, often throwing up large priced winners e.g. Tronador 2021 - industry SP 22/1 - Tote+ win: £27.10. 

On Ladies Day, Friday 8th April 2016, the dividend of £9,946.90 to a £1 stake was won by 38.07 units. 

Here’s how it happened… 

Leg 1 

The prize pool ticked over to £378,682 just before the off with punters still yet to decide who they wanted to in Leg 1. 

Eventually three joint-favourites were sent to post in the Alder Hey Children’s Charity Handicap Hurdle - Ma du Fou of Warren Greatrex’s yard, Gigginstown’s Tycoon Prince and the five-year-old Starchitect. 

Party Rock charged up the home straight to gamely hold off Champagne At Tara and the aforementioned Starchitect, to score at the third time of asking in the Grade Three. Due to the 22 runners there was a fourth place available in the Placepot, the final framer was the Lucinda Russell trained Sky Khan. 

With the well fancied David Pipe runner plugging on for third, many players escaped the early exit, with 117,495.96 units surviving through to the second leg. 

Leg 2

Only 9 runners filled the second leg, the Grade One Top Novices’ Hurdle. The market was largely dominated by Limini for the Willie Mullins and Rich Ricci combination.

Petit Mouchoir - David Mullins leads from winner No5 Buveur D'Air - Noel Fehily

In an enthralling finish, Buveur D’Air just held off Petit Mouchoir with the pair both pulling well clear of favourite Limini. 

Almost a treacherous leg for Placepot players with another favourite beaten, thankfully the five-year-old clung on to hold third place, getting 99776.64 units through into leg 3. 

Leg 3

The Mildmay Novices’ Chase was the Grade One contest for the third leg. The warm favourite again came from David Pipe’s Pond House stable, in the shape of Un Temps Pour Tout. The seven-year-old had stylishly won the Ultima at Cheltenham previously and stepped up into Graded company to cap off an improving campaign over fences. 

40,479.36 units sailed through leg 3, with the majority aboard Native River, the six-year-old appeared to be in fine fettle when taking out the prize under champion title chasing jockey Richard Johnson. The Peter Bowen trained Henri Parry Morgan and the popular Blaklion followed home the victor. 

Leg 4 

It was not a vintage renewal of the Melling Chase, with only six runners going to post. A massive favourite beforehand, Vautour was sent off at an incredibly short price for the Grade One. Obviously the Irish raider was strongly selected in the Placepot, but there were gasps around Aintree when his race came to a crashing end after his fall at the 9th fence. 

God’s Own (Paddy Brennan) beats Al Ferof in the Melling Chase

The opportunistic God’s Own was driven right out by Paddy Brennan to win convincingly from the 11-year-old Al Ferof. A massive upset on paper was reflected in the numbers, with only 3331.78 units escaping through to the penultimate leg. 

Leg 5

Friday’s traditional race over the Grand National fences was of course the Topham Chase. Four places were to be filled here for Placepot players, with 29 runners sent to post to tackle the Grand National course. 

Post-time favourite Bishops Road only made it to the first obstacle before unseating rider Jamie Moore, with other well supported acts underwhelming; Bennys Mist and Village Vic could only manage 12th and 13th. 

Eastlake SP 22/1 (Tote Win: £30.20) stayed on best to scoop the valuable purse for J.P. McManus’ connections. Fairy Rath was a good second for the small Nick Gifford team, followed by top weight Third Intention and Distime for Jonathan and Sam England. 

Fairy Rath - Tom Cannon leads over the last from winner Eastlake - Barry Geraghty
The Topham Chase

With an average SP of the framers amounting to 32.5/1, it was another lucrative leg for lucky Placepot tickets, only 163.98 units remained in with chance of scoring the rising dividend. 

Leg 6 

The final leg was the Sefton Novices’ Hurdle, another Grade One over three miles, with Bellshill being sent off favourite in a tight betting heat. The six-year-old just failed on the line, after being headed on the run-in by Ballyoptic. The victory recorded rider Ryan Hatch’s second Grade One success in the short time he had been in the saddle. A distant third, Potters Legend filled the placings for the Lucy Wadham team. 

Another upset for favourite backers on the day, but it did get plenty of Placepot tickets home and hosed. A total of 38.07 units shared the dividend of  £9,946.90. 

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