/ Racing

First Lieutenant bowls over Aintree rivals

Updated: Thursday, 04 Apr 2013 16:02 | Comments

First Lieutenant (left) finally got his head in front after a series of game efforts in defeat earlier in the season
First Lieutenant (left) finally got his head in front after a series of game efforts in defeat earlier in the season

First Lieutenant gave trainer Mouse Morris a perfect 62nd birthday present when grinding out a brave victory in the Betfred Bowl Chase at Aintree.

Runner-up to Cue Card in the Ryanair Chase at Cheltenham, the Gigginstown House Stud-owned gelding appreciated the step back up in trip to land his first Grade One win over fences.

It was another big winner for up-and-coming young jockey Bryan Cooper, standing in for regular pilot Davy Russell.

Cooper brought First Lieutenant (7-2) into contention at the fifth-last after Quito De La Roque had made a lot of the running in the same colours.

Menorah looked a major threat turning for home while a mistake cost Silviniaco Conti, who never appeared to be travelling with real fluency.

First Lieutenant got the better of Menorah in the final half-furlong to score by three-quarters of a length, with the rallying Silviniaco Conti just a length away in third.

Morris said: "He really deserved one.

"He's got a big heart and he jumped super for Bryan, but I thought we were struggling turning in.

"He hasn't run a bad race all season and was second in all the good handicaps and Grade Ones.

"I'm delighted for the horse and the team at home.

"I wouldn't have thought he'd go to Punchestown, but we'll see."

Cooper said: "I've been knocking on the door with this lad all season so it's great he's got his head in front.

"He's been up against Bobs Worth, Tidal Bay, Cue Card - he really deserves it.

"I was on and off the bridle the whole way but he jumped exceptionally well and I was always trying to save a bit.

"It's a shame Davy can't be here, he's riding at home today at Thurles with not a bother on him."

Paul Nicholls said of beaten favourite Silviniaco Conti: "Ruby said if he hadn't missed the ditch he would have won.

"I suppose if he hadn't fallen in the Gold Cup we could have ridden him more positively as he's not a speed horse, more of a stayer. In the future we'll ride him like we did at Haydock."

Philip Hobbs said of Menorah: "I'm really pleased, it's the first time he's had decent ground all season and I'd be inclined to finish him off on a high note now."

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