Open Ditch, Height: 5ft, Width: 7ft
With a 5ft 6in brook on the landing side to go with the 5ft high fence, the first obstacle in the second straight at Aintree – Valentine’s – is another that acts as a test of jumping credentials.
It’s the first of four in a row on the straight towards the Melling Road, and the last of the named fences until the devilish Chair towards the end of the circuit.
With the field now better spread following the first eight fences, there is less chance of falling/being unseated by another horse – but that’s not to suggest that Valentine’s Brook is easy by any stretch of the imagination.
History of Valentine’s Brook
The 9th and 25th fence got its name as far back as 1840 – and in remarkable fashion, too.
It goes without saying that there isn’t video footage of the incident in question, but the horse Valentine is said to have come to a careering halt in front of the fence, before rearing up and jumping over it hind legs first – sounds improbable, but a number of witnesses later corroborated the account of jockey Alan Power.
Famous Fallers at Valentine’s Brook
Any notion that the danger is over, and the jockeys can relax in their saddle, after the Canal Turn can be quickly forgotten.
Valentine’s Brook accounted for five horses at the 2022 renewal, including Minella Times – the defending champion with Rachael Blackmore on board.
Gold Cup champion Long Run failed to make it successfully over Valentine’s in 2014, while a year earlier only two horses fell during the whole race – one of which was joint-favourite On His Own at Valentine’s.
In 2007 and ’08, a horse called Simon – who was a decent chance at 11/1 and 20/1 in those respective years – suffered the ignominy of falling at Valentine’s in consecutive years.