The totesuper7 Grand Sefton has attracted good fields since its revival seven years ago after a 38-year break. The handicap chase is run over one circuit of the Grand National course, with 18 fences jumped during the two miles, five and a half furlongs. The old Grand Sefton took place over further – just under three miles – and ceased after the 1965 renewal, which was won by The Fossa.
The totesuper7 Grand Sefton Chase was re-established in 2003. Well-known Irish owner JP McManus saw his famous green and gold colours carried to victory by the Jonjo O’Neill-trained Dark Room. Partnered by Liam Cooper, the six-year-old was one of eight in with a chance jumping the final fence and kept on best of all after the elbow to score by three lengths from Scotmail Boy.
The Richard Ford-trained Forest Gunner, under claimer Peter Buchanan, scored the following year. The winner had earlier taken the John Smith’s Fox Hunters’ Chase at the John Smith’s Grand National meeting when ridden by the trainer’s wife, Carrie. That pairing subsequently finished fifth in the 2005 John Smith’s Grand National, equalling Rosemary Henderson’s highest-placed finish by a woman in the race.
The 2005 renewal of the totesuper7 Grand Sefton was the first under the umbrella of the Northwest Racing Masters. The John Spearing-trained Hakim took the honours. Paddy Brennan soon had his mount out in front and Hakim jumped for fun. He stayed on gamely to defeat Fiori by two and a half lengths.
There were 20 runners in the 2006 contest which went the way of the Bob Buckler-trained I Hear Thunder, a 12/1 chance, who jumped well and stayed on strongly for then conditional jockey Daryl Jacob to come home seven lengths clear of Shannon’s Pride. Hakim, attempting to land the race for a second year in a row, again tried to make all the running, but this time got no further than the eighth fence.
The race was even more popular in 2007 when 22 lined up before the starter. There was a shock result as 66/1-chance Lampion Du Bost, ridden by Phil Kinsella and trained by Jim Goldie in Scotland for the Dodoz Partnership, which included ex-Scotland striker Billy Dodds, won on merit, jumping exemplarily.
There were shades of the famous finish to the 1973 Grand National between Crisp and Red Rum as 11/1 chance Endless Power tired rapidly after the last in the 2008 totesuper7 Grand Sefton Handicap Chase. However, the leader held on by two and a half lengths from Brooklyn Brownie under 3lb conditional James Reveley for Goldie, gaining a second Grand Sefton success. The winner jumped for fun over the famous fences, soon built up a commanding advantage and was still around 15 lengths in front over the last.