Brighterdaysahead cruises to Grade 1 glory

It was an effortless performance from Gordon Elliott’s Brighterdaysahead to take a landmark Grade 1 victory in the Mersey Novices’ Hurdle at Aintree on Saturday.

BRIGHTERDAYSAHEAD winning the Mersey Novices' Hurdle at Aintree in Liverpool, England.
BRIGHTERDAYSAHEAD winning the Mersey Novices' Hurdle at Aintree in Liverpool, England. Picture: Michael Steele/Getty Images

The mare went into the Cheltenham Festival with an unblemished record, and despite being the nap of the meeting for many, she was forced to concede a first Grade 1 success to Golden Ace, finding no extra up the hill to defy her rival. A switch to open company was on the cards for Aintree and Brighterdaysahead faced a strong field, including the Willie Mullins-trained pair Jimmy Du Seuil and Ile Atlantique. 

Josh The Boss and Esprit Du Potier set the pace in the early stages with Jack Kennedy choosing to settle Brighterdaysahead near the back of the field. As the group rounded the final turn, they spread along the width of the track to take the third-last flight, with Brighterdaysahead ominously waiting to make her move. The mare kicked clear over the second-last and faced no opposition all the way up the run-in, finishing seven-and-a-quarter lengths ahead of Staffordshire Knot with Bugise Seagull back in third.

Gordon Elliott said: "The horses have been running well all week, but we have been hitting the crossbar. I didn't hide what I thought about this mare going to Cheltenham, and I was gutted coming out of it, but we have all enjoyed today. She is very good.

"I was nervous before the race today as she looked a bit light across her kidneys, and hips, but she showed how special she is. We could go wherever we want with her. Apple's Jade was pretty special, but she is good.

"In this game there are always disappointments, but I look at life totally different now to what I've ever done. I love training winners, and horses, but to win with this mare is unbelievable. I thought she would win at Cheltenham. If you looked at Willie's horse (Jade De Grugy) that won at Fairyhouse and her (at Cheltenham) I think Jack (Kennedy) and Paul (Townend) let the race get away from them. I'm not going to say she is better (than the boys), but she is good. She is gorgeous."

In an interview with ITV Racing, Jack Kennedy said: "She showed there what we've always thought of her. I really wanted to hold on to her for longer but I couldn't. She just put me there, going very easily. She's a very talented mare.

"I really can't put my finger on it (how she got beat at Cheltenham). It was a bit of a mess of a race and we didn't go much of a gallop, so she was keen. It was disappointing she didn't win there as we knew she was better than that, so it's nice for her to show that to everyone here today.

"I had a bit of cover on her today and she settled a bit better, and I suppose obviously she was up in trip, a slow-run two miles would be no problem for her, the gallop they went the last day was really what caught her out the last day, and I'm just pleased she showed what we could do today. We were so disappointed at Cheltenham,  but it was the case that we couldn't be all so far wrong. I'm glad we came here and she showed what she could do.

"I don't know whether she'll stay over hurdles next year or go chasing, that's up to the O'Learys and Gordon, but she's very smart and I'm sure there'll be more Grade Ones for her."

Paddy Power reacted to the result by shortening Brighterdaysahead from 10/1 to 4/1 for the Mares' Hurdle and 5/1 to 3/1 for the Mrs Paddy Power Mares' Chase.


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