Aintree Chase/Hurdle 1976 - 1989 &  Betway Bowl 1984 - 89

The Aintree Hurdle, first run as the Templegate Hurdle in 1976 regularly attracted the top hurdlers and despite being half a mile longer often featured the reigning champion hurdler. During the "golden age of hurdling" in the seventies and early eighties this was won by such "legends" as COMEDY OF ERRORS (who run the inaugural running), NIGHT NURSE and MONKSFIELD. Their "dead heat" in 1977 is widely considered the greatest hurdle race ever run. 

Between 1976 and 1989 five champion hurdlers tried to win both races in the same season and all bar one succeeded. 

1977  NIGHT NURSE - WON (dead heat with Monksfield)

1978  MONKSFIELD - WON

1979  MONKSFIELD - WON

1984  DAWN RUN - WON

1986  SEE YOU THEN - 2nd 

1989  BEECH ROAD - WON

One of my favourite hurdlers of the decade AONOCH (pictured right with Jimmy Duggan up) won this twice. In 1986 having run a stinker in the Champion Hurdle (he finished twentieth) he turned the tables in the most spectacular fashion over triple Champion Hurdler SEE YOU THEN. He then won it again the following year when ridden by Jacqui Oliver.

Champion Hurdle runners in same years Aintree Hurdle

1976 - COMEDY OF ERRORS (4th Ch/WON Aintree Hurdle)

1977 - NIGHT NURSE (1st/WON (DH)

           MONKSFIELD (2nd/WoN (DH)

           FIGHTING KATE

           TRUE SONG

1978 - MONKSFIELD (1st/WON)

           NIGHT NURSE (3rd/2nd)

           KYBO (11th/3rd)

           MASTER MONDAY (6th/5th)

           KOIRO SCOTT (12th/ur)

1979 - MONKSFIELD (1st/WON)

           KYBO (fell/2nd)

           WESTERN ROSE (8th/3rd)

           SEA PIGEON (2nd/fell)

1980 - POLLARDSTOWN (5th/WON)

           MONKSFIELD (2nd/2nd)

1981 -  DARING RUN (3)

           POLLARDSTOWN (2)

           MELADON (12)

1982 - DARING RUN (su)

           POLLARDSTOWN (4)

           EKBALKO (3)

           BROADSWORD (2)

1983 - GAYE BRIEF (WON)

           FOR AUCTION (3)

           BROADSWORD (4)

           BOREEN PRINCE (2)

1984 - DAWN RUN (WON)

           VERY PROMISING (3)

           FREDCOTERI (5)

           BUCK HOUSE (4)

           CIMA (2)

1985 - GAYE BRIEF (4)

           FREDCOTERI (5)

           ROBIN WONDER (2)

1986 - AONOCH (20th/WON)

           SEE YOU THEN (1st/2nd)

           ASIR (18)

           ROBIN WONDER (13)

           GLAZEPTA AGAIN (19)

1987 - RIVER CERIOG (fell)

1988 - CELTIC CHIEF (3)

           CLOUGHTANEY (10)

           ALDINO (11)

           TARTAN TAILOR (7)

1989 - BEECH ROAD (WON)

           CLOUGHTANEY (8)

           CELTIC SHOT (3)

           VAGADOR (5)

            FLOYD (4)

           CASHEW KING (fell)

           CONDOR PAN (10th) 

The Aintree Chase (first run under that title in 1984) was initially known as the Sun Ratings Chase when sponsored under the News International banner. In 1979 when Colt Cars (now Mitsubishi) sponsored the day it was the Colt Sopporo Chase and for one year in 1983 was run as the catchy "Park Hampers Chase". Whatever the title this, the forerunner of the Red Rum Chase, was a cracking contest which, until the introduction of the Melling Chase in 1991, regularly attracted the best two mile chasers in the land and was effectively the second most prestigious two mile chase in the UK after the Queen Mother Chase at the Festival.

The only horse to win both races in the same year were the Northern Ireland trained SKYMAS in 1977. The Arthur Moore trained DRUMGORA who lifted this in 1980 and a year later triumphed at Cheltenham. The others that tried the feat in the same year had considerably less luck as illustrated below

1976 - SKYMAS - 4th

1977 - SKYMAS - WON

1978 - HILLY WAY - fell

1979 - HILLY WAY - 8th 

1982 - RATHGORMAN - fell

1983 - BADSWORTH BOY - fell

1987 - PEARLYMAN - unseated rider

1988 - PEARLYMAN - 7th

Triple Queen Mother victor BADSWORTH BOY actually fell in this race twice and in 1982 took such a heavy fall at the last fence that his rider Robert Earnshaw had to miss what would have been his only Grand National ride. The 1982 renewal is also famous for a classic "What happened next moment" when leader SPINNING SAINT and his amateur rider Norman Babbage were so far ahead at the water on the first circuit that they ran onto the National course instead of the Mildmay course and were clear over the Melling Road by the time the rest of the field had taken the first fence on the back straight. It is the only time to my knowledge that anyone has made that mistake. The winner was the Gordon Richards trained LITTLE BAY who ran in the race five times winning for a second time in 1984.There was another dual winner, the Alan Jarvis trained KATHIES LAD in 1985 & 1986 whilst the popular ARTIFICE won for Denmans owner Paul Barber in 1981. In 1989 the Irish trained novice FERODA completed a memorable double winning the race having won the MIldmay Noivces Chase twenty four hours earlier

The Betway Bowl

The wonderful WAYWARD LAD pictured above with Robert Earnshaw won this twice in 1985 and 1987 on what was his last racecourse appearance.

Role of Honour

 

1984  ROYAL BOND (A.Moore - Ire)               Tom Taaffe    4

1985  WAYWARD LAD (M.Dickinson)      John Francome    6

1986  BEAU RANGER (J.Thorne)                Hywel Davies    4 

1987  WAYWARD LAD (M.Dickinson)   Graham McCourt     6

1988  DESERT ORCHID (D.Elsworth)     Simon Sherwood    

1989  YAHOO (J. Edwards)                          Tom Morgan     8

 

Run in 1984          as Perrier Jouet Champagne Cup

Run in 1985 - 87  as Whitbread Gold Label Cup Chase

Run in 1988          as Chivas Regal Cup Chase

Run in 1989          as Martell Cup

 

The first six years

 

Introduced in 1984 and run as the Perrier Jouet Champagne Cup Chase this new weight-for-age chase on the Mildmay course was designed as a consolation event for Cheltenham Gold Cup runners. To that end its inaugural running was a success as three of the four runners having lined up in the Gold Cup including 1983 hero Bregawn. The race itself, however, was a muddling affair - Bregawn who was by now showing the temprement that was to blight his post Gold Cup career down tools and virtually stopped to a walk at the second last and finished tailed off. The odds on favourite Drumlargan was looking all over the winner until he blundered badly at the last handing the initiative to the veteran Royal Bond who prevailed by three quarters of a length. In 1985 the race was switched to the Thursday and, run as the second event of the meeting, it has remained in that spot to this day. The 1985 renewal saw an emotional victory for one of the most popular chasers of the decade, Wayward Lad who sealed victory with a magnificent leap at the last fence beating the useful Half Free and Earls Brig. Wayward Lad (who raced in five consecutive Gold Cups) returned in 1986 where he was joined by the reigning Gold Cup heroine Dawn Run who had (so cruelly in my eyes) snatched the Gold Cup from him in the dying strides. The 1986 race proved to be the most sensational in the races history with Dawn Run falling at the very first fence and Wayward Lad was left toiling in the wake of the outsider of the party Beau Ranger who returned at the most ridiculous odds of 40-1 (in a four horse race !!!!)  Beau Rangers victory was by no means a fluke as he had won the Gold Cup at Cheltenhams December meeting and a Badger Beer Chase and he would go on to win a Mackeson as well. In 1987 (a race that I stupidly forgot to record) Wayward Lad won for a second time in what was to be his final race before retirement. Desert Orchids victory in 1988 finally gave him a win on a left-handed course and was the first in a run of nine straight victories for the popular grey and his rider Simon Sherwood. This remarkable run culminated with victory number nine in the 1989 Gold Cup (the second and final time that Dessie won going left handed). The 1989 renewal featured no just one but two Cheltenham Gold Cup  winners with Desert Orchid and Simon Sherwood going for win number ten and the 1988 Gold Cup winner Charter Party was also in the line-up. Ironically both fell at the same fence, the first fence in the back straight. The John Edwards trained Yahoo who had chased home Desert Orchid at Cheltenham gained some compensation with victory over the fragile Delius who could have reached the very top if his career hadn`t been blighted with injury.

 

Runners

 

As the table below shows the race did achieve what it set out to and became not so much a Gold Cup consolation but a race of Gold Cup quality in it`s own right. During the first six years we saw four Gold Cup winners compete.

 

Of the 32 runners 16 ran in that years Gold Cup - exactly half.

 

Figures in bold show indicate that the horse ran in both the Gold Cup and the Aintree race in the same year (* denotes winner)

 

Beau Ranger (1978) - 86*, 89

Bishops Yarn (1979) - 89

Bolands Cross (1979) - 87

Bregawn (1974) - 84

Charter Party (1978) - 89

Combs Ditch (1976) - 85

Contradeal (1977) - 88

Cybrandian (1978) - 87

Desert Orchid (1978) - 88*, 89

Dawn Run (1978) - 86

Delius (1978) - 89   

Drumlargan (1974) - 84

Earls Brig (1975) - 85

Fred Pilliner (1977) - 84

Galway Blaze (1976) - 87

Half Free (1976) - 85

Hungry Hur (1979) - 89

Kildimo (1979) - 88

Royal Bond (1973) - 84*, 85

Simon Legree (1977) - 87

Stearsby (1979) - 87

Toms Little Al (1976) - 85

Very Promising (1978) - 86

Wayward Lad (1975) - 85*, 86, 87*

Weather The Storm (1980) - 88, 89

Yahoo (1981) - 89*

 

Interestingly the two Gold Cup winners who tried to do the double in the same year (Dawn Run in 1986 & Desert Orchid in 1989) both fell.