The Grand National has provided another sensational shock with victory for Aurora’s Encore, a 66-1 shot who pounded clear on the run-in under jockey Ryan Mania, having his first ride in the famous race. The winning trainer is Sue Smith, wife of the former show-jumper Harvey, who achieved fame in the 70s as a bad boy of a sport that then enjoyed much TV coverage.
There was a great deal of pressure on Aintree’s officials to provide a safe race after two equine deaths over the first two days of the race-meeting, despite newly softened fences. The result was that there were no fallers and no jockeys were unseated over the first seven fences, including Becher’s Brook. Early indications were that all horses had returned safely.
Another success was the revised starting arrangements, which produced a start so quick and trouble-free that some onlookers were startled to discover the race in progress. At the other end of the action, Aurora’s Encore pulled clear of the much more fancied Cappa Bleu and Teaforthree, who finished second and third.
Seabass was sent off the 11-2 favourite to make Katie Walsh the first winning female jockey in the race’s long history. He made progress into the front rank on the second circuit before fading.
Walsh’s brother, Ruby, also rode a fancied horse in On His Own, who moved up menacingly on the second circuit. But he was already in trouble when falling at Valentine’s Brook, three fences further than he had managed last year. Tony McCoy was unseated when his mount, Colbert Station, blundered at The Chair.
The 23-year-old Mania gave up his career in the saddle in 2011, frustrated by a lack of opportunity, but found the sport’s lure too hard to resist. He was praised for his efforts by Smith.
“He’s a grand little horse and you can ride him anywhere, anyhow,” the trainer said. “We knew there was a strong possibility that he would get the trip and Ryan’s given him an absolutely wonderful ride.”
The four winning owners include the 78-year-old Jim Beaumont, who was born in Liverpool and worked in the city’s Adelphi Hotel as a bellboy at the age of 14.
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