It was all supposed to be about the Hennessy Gold Cup and the newly-revamped bet365 Festival but proceedings ended up being rather hijacked by the Randox Health Grand National.
Triolo D'Alene could run in both the Hennessy and the Grand National
Hennessy hopefuls Carole's Destrier, Vyta Du Roc and Triolo d'Alene were all among those to gallop at Newbury but they were accompanied by The Young Master and Many Clouds, who have eyes only for the Aintree showpiece.
The locally-based Oliver Sherwood paid due and fulsome tribute to the Hennessy and described Many Clouds' victory 2014 victory as his favourite race to have watched live.
"I don't think I enjoyed watching the National, I must confess," he revealed.
"I like watching the replay now, much more than live at the time. The National is a law unto itself but the Hennessy was the plan for nearly 12 months and for it to come off was something I really enjoyed."
The Hennessy, however, is not part of the plan now though as he explained they were working backwards from Liverpool with the nine-year-old.
"With due respect to Newbury his season is being campaigned again around Aintree in the spring."
Neil Mulholland is also working backwards from the Grand National with The Young Master who was warming up for a trip to Liverpool for next month's Becher Chase. When asked whether he would prefer to have him entered in the Hennessy alongside Carole's Destrier, Neil Mulholland was quick to respond: "No I don't, because he's one of the favourites for the Grand National.
"You can't go to every dance in town. I'd rather give The Young Master a sighting of the Grand National fences. It's a long-term plan and obviously everything can happen."
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Nicky Henderson is convinced that Triolo d'Alene is the right type for Merseyside but finds that events conspire against them every time.
"We keep thinking he must be a Grand National horse," he said. "He's won a Hennessy, he's won a Topham – put the two together you must have a Grand National horse there mustn't you?
"But every time we keep going there the ground conditions keep going – literally overnight – and that undoes him very quickly, he must have good ground."
When asked whether the Hennessy had always been the plan, he deferred slightly saying 'It's a good starting place' but he later rallied adding 'They both deserve to be running and they wouldn't be running if I didn't think they had good chances.'
The other part of 'they' is Vyta Du Roc who, according to both Henderson and Sherwood, has the right profile for the race.
"He was a good novice and at the start of their second season they've just got a little bit of a chance just to break in with the bigger boys," the Seven Barrows handler explained.
"They are given that little window to see if they can progress and the top novices from last year do have a very good record in the race. He wasn't really a top novice. When Bobs Worth and Trabolgan won the Hennessy for us they really were top novices. Trabolgan was top-weight whereas Vyta is coming in at the bottom because he's not as good as them, there's no doubt about that but on the other hand he did win a Reynoldstown.
"I think he's a youngster that's creeping along and progressing all the time."
One suspects that this race has always been the plan for Vyta Du Roc – as it will have been for many others in the entry – but Henderson refused to split his pair when asked, responding: "I don't need to. I love Triolo and it would be great to see him come back and win it again but if it was the younger horse we'd be very happy too."
While those on the outside are often obsessed with first and second string chances, sometimes that really doesn't seem to be the case.
You can put all the plans in place but sometimes the weather and events conspire against you and if you have two – or more – live chances, that can pay dividends as Mulholland found out last April when The Young Master won the bet365 Gold Cup at Sandown in which The Druids Nephew was fifth and Carole's Destrier a disappointing 11th.
"Thankfully we had the winner of the race so we didn't have to look into it too much. That's the way it goes, some days races suit and some days they don't.
"If we hadn't won it with The Young Master, I'd definitely have been tearing my hair out over him because two horses fell in front of him and he had very, very bad luck in running."
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