Grand National meeting: Top Wood, Kemboy and Supasundae win at Aintree

Tabitha Worsley on Top Wood
Tabitha Worsley was having her first ride over the Grand National fences

Jockey Tabitha Worsley, who broke her back in a fall 18 months ago, scored an emotional triumph over the Grand National fences at Aintree on Top Wood.

Worsley returned from the back injury but missed last year's Foxhunters' Chase with a broken collarbone.

On a dramatic first day of the National meeting, Supasundae beat two-time Champion Hurdle winner Buveur D'Air in the Aintree Hurdle.

Ruby Walsh and Willie Mullins combined to take the Betway Bowl with Kemboy.

The 14-1 shot Top Wood, ridden by Worsley for trainer Kelly Morgan, battled back to pass Burning Ambition - under top amateur Derek O'Connor - a furlong out to take victory in the Foxhunters' Chase for amateur riders.

"I broke my back the November before last in a fall at Ludlow and then I should have ridden here last year, but I broke my collarbone the week before. Last year wasn't my year, but this certainly is," said Worsley.

"It's unbelievable to win here, and so good to reward them (the Morgan sisters and owner Johnny Weatherby) for sticking by me through all my injuries. To reward them on a stage like this is really special."

Buveur D'Air beaten but Kemboy impresses

Buveur D'Air, a faller at Cheltenham last month, has now been beaten three times this season and never looked at his best.

Another former champion hurdler, Faugheen, was found to have an irregular heartbeat after the race - proving Ruby Walsh's decision to pull the horse up to be a wise one.

Kemboy, sent off the 9-4 favourite for the Betway Bowl, led from start to finish and put behind his Cheltenham Gold Cup performance where he unseated his rider at the first fence.

He is now rated about 8-1 second favourite for next year's Gold Cup behind stablemate Al Boum Photo (6-1) who gave Mullins his first victory in the race last month.

Kemboy bounced back after unseating his rider at the first fence in the Cheltenham Gold Cup

The trainer could run Kemboy at the Punchestown Festival, which starts later this month, and has other targets in mind.

"I think that he is a horse who could go on further than Punchestown. I would like to travel him abroad - I think he goes on good ground - and I would like to maybe take him to America later in the season. We will see," said Mullins.

King George winner Clan Des Obeaux was second, ahead of Balko Des Flos.

Elsewhere at Aintree

In the opener, trainer Amy Murphy claimed her first Grade One success as Kalashnikov beat 6-4 favourite La Bague Au Roi in the Devenish Manifesto Novices' Chase.

The six-year-old held off Richard Johnson's efforts on the favourite to win by one-and-a-quarter lengths.

Murphy said the Ryanair Chase at the 2020 Cheltenham Festival was the aim for Kalashnikov next season.

Nico de Boinville scored again in the the juvenile hurdle on Pentland Hills to follow their Triumph Hurdle victory at Cheltenham.


Cornelius Lysaght, BBC racing correspondent

All sorts of theories abound about whether horses that run at the Cheltenham Festival will perform to their best at Aintree especially when, like this year, the gap between the two biggest British jump racing festivals has been barely three weeks.

As it turned out, all but one of the major winners here suffered Cheltenham disappointment, with Kemboy, which unseated its rider at the first fence in the Gold Cup, the most striking.

Jumping with tremendous gusto, he must have had all involved wondering what might have been after showing he has potential star quality in abundance with a facile win.

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