The Paul Nicholls trained Sanctuaire was all the rage for Aintree’s Grade1 Matalan Anniversary 4-y-o Novices’ Hurdle after an impressive victory at the Cheltenham Festival.
Ruby Walsh’s mount started a warm 13/8 favourite and for most of the 2m 1/2f trip travelled like the winner.
Triumph Hurdle runner-up Barizan attempted to make all of the running but was challenged by the favourite approaching the last, who appeared full of running.
The race changed dramatically on the run in as Sanctuaire found very little under pressure, and just as Barizan looked to be getting on top, 40/1 shot Orsippus swooped wide to win going away.
Trained by Michael Smith at Kirkheaton in Northumberland, Orsippus had been beaten over 10 length by Sanctuaire at Cheltenham, and was only 2lb better off at the weights.
The Venetia Williams trained Double Handful fell early on and jockey Aidan Coleman, booked to ride Mon Mome in Saturday’s National, was taken to hospital after being kicked in the stomach.
The feature race on the first day, the Totesport Bowl Chase, saw another knock for the festival form as Gold Cup winner Imperial Commander fell, after putting in a moderate round of jumping.
The race went to What A Friend, who quickened away from Gold Cup fourth Carruthers after jumping the last.
The winner was returned at 5/2 and is a best price 20/1 with Skybet for the 2011 Cheltenham Gold Cup.