Rule The World wins the Grand National with 19-year-old David Mullins

The Michael O’Leary-owned Rule The World has won the Grand National, having never won a race over fences in 13 previous attempts. His extraordinary success will be an emotional moment in the life of his Irish trainer, Mouse Morris, whose son Christopher died last summer from carbon monoxide poisoning while travelling in Argentina.

rule the world

 

Morris made reference to his loss recently after winning the Irish Grand National on Easter Monday. “Tiffer was looking down on me today. He helped me there,” was the trainer’s immediate reaction on that day.

The winner was returned at 33-1 but a still greater shock seemed on the cards after the last when the 100-1 shot Vics Canvas challenged for the lead, despite having almost lost his jockey at the first Becher’s. Vics Canvas’ chance was compromised as he ran out of room around the elbow turn a furlong from home when The Last Samuri, one of the 8-1 joint-favourites, nosed ahead. But Rule The World’s final challenge up the centre of the course proved decisive and he pulled away to win by six lengths. The Last Samuri fnished second with Vics Canvas third and Gilgamboa fourth.

Initial reports suggested 16 of the 39 starters completed the course, rather more than might have been expected on the rain-softened going, and that all horses had returned without significant injury.

The winning jockey was the 19-year-old David Mullins, who has quickly built a big following in Ireland. He acquired the ride after Bryan Cooper, the retained jockey of the winning owner, chose instead to partner First Lieutenant, who got no further than the second fence.

“It’s unbelievable. I just couldn’t expect things to have gone better,” said Mullins. “There was one little mishap at the fourth-last but thank God I came out [the other side]. Everything went to plan really.

“Credit to Mouse, he’s produced this horse without having won over fences. Then there’s me, who’s never even walked around the Grand National track. Mouse is a genius and he’s the best man in the world for preparing a horse for one day. That’s the best ride I’ve ever got off a horse and it’s the best feeling to come back into a place like this. It was just brilliant.”

Many Clouds, last year’s winner, made a bold bid for a second victory but a late mistake saw him fade out of contention. Holywell, another fancied runner, was an early faller.

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Pineau De Re wins the Grand National 2014

Pineau De Re winning pic

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “Pineau De Re wins the Grand National at Aintree” was written by Chris Cook at Aintree, for theguardian.com on Saturday 5th April 2014 15.38 UTC

Pineau De Re was the 25-1 winner of the Grand National, foiling the two most high-profile jockeys in the race, Richard Johnson and Tony McCoy, who finished second and third on Balthazar King and Double Seven. The winning jockey was Leighton Aspell, making two years in a row that the famous Aintree race has been won by a rider back from retirement, following Ryan Mania last year.

The 37-year-old Aspell, runner-up in the National 11 years ago on Supreme Glory, quit the saddle in the summer of 2007 and went to work in the Flat-racing yard of John Dunlop in Sussex. He returned to action in 2009 and has now been rewarded with what was already his best season by a long way. Even so, first prize of £561,000 doubles his money won since last May.

This was the second Grand National over the modified fences that have been criticised by some for being too soft. Last year, every runner cleared the first seven fences without incident but this race looked much more like older Nationals, with Twirling Magnet falling at the first and others tumbling at regular intervals, including Burton Port and Big Shu at the next two fences.

However, Channel 4 reported that all horses returned without serious injury. A total of 18 completed the course.

The most notable departure in the early stages was the well-fancied Long Run, a past winner of the Cheltenham Gold Cup and the King George VI Chase, who fell when leading at Valentine’s Brook. Shortly after, as the field tackled The Chair in front of the stands, there were despairing cries from many a punter as Teaforthree unseated Nick Scholfield.

Nor was the drama confined to the fences. There was a false start, following which Battle Group refused to race when the tape went up for real. As the runners passed the starting point to go out on the second circuit, Across The Bay, who had been leading, was carried across the track and out of contention by a loose horse.

Those still in the argument at that stage included Katie Walsh, a late call-up for the outsider Vesper Bell, who could be seen hunting along on the inside as the field tracked down to Becher’s Brook. But Pineau De Re was also travelling notably well at that stage and, a mile later, his reserves of stamina carried him clear of his rivals.

He won by five lengths from Balthazar King, who was a length and a quarter ahead of Double Seven. Alvarado finished fast into fourth, with Rocky Creek and Monbeg Dude not far behind.

“I was very conscious that I didn’t want to be in front too soon over four and a half miles,” Aspell said. “He’s a small horse, so he has to try at his fences, which he kept doing.

“When I got a bit of daylight, I knew I’d be fine because that was my only worry. Once he was in daylight, from the Canal Turn, he really enjoyed that part of the race.”

The winning trainer is the 50-year-old Dr Richard Newland, who took Pineau De Re into his Worcestershire stable last summer and sparked a revival in his form. The horse is Newland’s first Grand National runner. He was previously trained in Ireland by Philip Fenton, currently facing charges of possessing anabolic steroids and other banned substances, which it is believed he will deny.

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Outsider Auroras Encore wins Grand National 2013 at 66-1

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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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How to pick your horse in the 2012 Grand National?

Mon Mome after winning the Grand National

Powered by Guardian.co.ukWith 40 runners lining up, Saturday’s Grand National is a pretty confusing affair, even for those of use who spend the whole year watching horse races. If you’re one of the many who hasn’t given the game a second thought since last year’s race, it’s bound to be baffling.

This page is an attempt to help you find the right horse for you. All you have to decide is this: what kind of horse are you looking for?

A grey!

Well, it’s about time. There hasn’t been a grey Grand National winner since Nicolaus Silver in 1961. In fact, there have only been two winning greys in the race’s entire history, which goes back to 1837, and the other one, The Lamb, reportedly turned black by the end of his career. Anyway, this year’s grey hounds are:

Neptune Collonges

Alfa Beat

Chicago Grey

Swing Bill

A chestnut!

A bit more like it. We get plenty of those, like the (fairly) recent winners Mr Frisk and Seagram and Bindaree. Chestnuts, for those who don’t know, are the pretty, orangey ones. Some people believe their pigmentation makes them more sensitive to temperature than your average bay or brown horse, making them more likely to run well in warm weather. The science on this is entirely absent. This year’s chestnuts:

Junior

Always Right

Treacle

The Midnight Club

Becauseicouldntsee

Vic Venturi

Viking Blond

A horse trained in Ireland!

Irish raiders went from 1975 to 1999 without a single Grand National success but there have been six since then. This year’s typically strong team:

Alfa Beat

Black Apalachi

Chicago Grey

Seabass

On His Own

Rare Bob

Organisedconfusion

Treacle

The Midnight Club

Killyglen

Quiscover Fontaine

Tharawaat

Becauseicouldntsee

Vic Venturi

In Compliance

A horse trained in Wales!

There hasn’t been a Welsh-trained National winner since Kirkland in 1905, a month before Las Vegas was founded. It’s a long time to wait but an odd feature of recent jumps seasons has been the emergence of Welsh stables as a powerful collective force. Doing it for the dragon:

Deep Purple

Cappa Bleu

State Of Play

Postmaster

A horse who has won the Grand National before!

Multiple National winners are extremely rare. There were only two in the last century, Reynoldstown (1935-6) and Red Rum (1973-4 and 1977). We have two previous winners in this year’s field. Is either of them another “Rummy”?

Ballabriggs

Mon Mome

A horse who has won one of the other Nationals!

A shrewd choice. Clearly you know something about the game because it is fairly common for National winners to have proven their stamina in the equivalent races in Scotland, Wales or Ireland. Stepping up to the big time this year:

Synchronised (Welsh National)

Hello Bud (Scottish National)

Organisedconfusion (Irish National)

A really young horse!

Horses have to be at least seven years old before they are allowed to run in the National, making them more than twice as old as the callow beasts who run in the Derby, but even that is a young age for this race. The last horse as young as seven to win was Bogskar in 1940, shortly before the evacuation of Dunkirk. This year’s children:

Organisedconfusion

Tharawaat

Viking Blond

A really old horse!

There is no upper age limit for National runners, which is a pity because racehorses generally lose their ability pretty quickly after turning 13 and no one likes to see old favourites being returned to the fray when the chance of success is remote. The National has not been won by a horse older than 12 since Sergeant Murphy in 1923. Galloping grandads:

Hello Bud (14)

Black Apalachi (13)

A horse wearing blinkers!

Well, they should help you to pick your horse out from the crowd but blinkers are thought to be a disadvantage in the National. They narrow a horse’s field of vision dramatically, whereas it may be helpful to see that loose horse approaching from your side. Since 1975, only Earth Summit and Comply Or Die have worn blinkers to National glory. Taking a narrow view:

Alfa Beat

Junior

Viking Blond

A horse who won at the Cheltenham Festival!

It sounds like a good idea but in fact it is 21 years since Seagram was the last horse to win a race at the Cheltenham Festival and continue to Aintree glory a month later. National winners are often big, slow, tough, burly types who can be brought to their peak maybe twice a year. It can be for Cheltenham in mid-March or Aintree three or four weeks later. Both is asking a lot. Pushing their luck, therefore:

Synchronised

Sunnyhillboy

A horse who won its last race!

That broadens the net a little, though the precedents are still not especially propitious. Just two of the past 10 National winners had also won their previous race. Trying to follow up:

Synchronised

Calgary Bay

Seabass

West End Rocker

On His Own

Sunnyhillboy

Killyglen

Postmaster

Giles Cross

A horse who ran really badly in its most recent race!

Odd as it may seem, the Grand National often produces excellent performances from horses whose recent form has been dubious at best. Some beasts need this sort of extreme test to show their true form, others have been deliberately held back for the big day. Four National winners in the past 10 years were either pulled up on their previous start or finished more than 30 lengths behind the winner. Stuffed out of sight when we last saw them:

Weird Al

Alfa Beat

Tatenen

Always Right

Organisedconfusion

The Midnight Club

Mon Mome

Arbor Supreme

Swing Bill

Vic Venturi

In Compliance

Viking Blond

Hello Bud

Neptune Equester

Good luck!

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Grand National Outsiders Tips, Bet Each Way Chance

We look at outsiders tips for the Grand National that we recommend that you should bet each way.

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThere’s been a fair bit of Grand National coverage in this slot. Here you can read about what makes it so brilliant, while here is a bit about the surprisingly awful record of grey horses (not recommended reading for those of you who think the colour of a horse’s pelt is a subject undeserving of your attention). Last year, I wrote about some of the high-profile horses who have fallen at the first fence and gave some key stats.

Here’s a quick update on those stats. Don’t Push It had won over fences against 16 rivals before his National success, so 17 of the past 19 National winners have proven ability to cope with big fields (12 rivals or more). Paul Nicholls ran four more horses without success in last year’s race, taking his record to a most surprising 0/48.

Don’t Push It had also won beyond three miles, like the previous 20 winners, but he was carrying 11st 5lb, the most by any National winner since 1982. The last time a winner had more than that was 1977, when Red Rum carried 11st 8lb to his third success. It remains the case that no seven-year-old has won the National since 1940.

There are a few horses in Saturday’s race who may be thought to be up against it, judging by these stats, none more so than Quolibet. A seven-year-old, his only success (as recorded by the Racing Post) was over two miles and six furlongs and came against only eight rivals. He has fallen in three of his past six starts and was pulled up on his only run in Britain. Surely odds of 150-1 are very short indeed for such a runner.

I note that, among the market leaders, What A Friend has never beaten more than 10 rivals over fences while Quinz is a seven-year-old.

But I set no store by the Paul Nicholls stat, which is more of a curiosity than any kind of guide to what may happen in future Nationals. He campaigns his horses openly, which means they are not always well weighted when the big handicaps come along, but he will surely win it one day, especially if he keeps running three or four talented beasts each year.

By this stage, we all have fairly clear ideas about which horses we fancy to win. But it is worth taking the time to go through the final field, challenging your assumptions about each horse and asking yourself how surprising it would be, really, if it were to win.

If you find yourself newly impressed by the claims of a runner you had previously counted out, that may well be significant. You want to consider it now, rather than waiting until they’re running down to second Becher’s to find yourself thinking: “Actually, that thing has a real chance here …”

After all, your long-term views about the race are likely to centre on the market leaders, who have had this as their known target for months. There are other runners in the field whose claims have been wholly ignored by the media, horses who are sailing merrily along beneath the radar, preparing to drop a bomb on unsuspecting punters.

There are bound to be races that leave you baffled, wondering how on earth the winner has run so much better than his previous form. I never want to have that feeling after a National and to that end I have kicked around the chances of each outsider to see if, in fact, he should be among the more fancied runners.

Here’s the five at odds of 33-1 or bigger that I found most interesting.

1) Majestic Concorde 25/1 With Ladbrokes

I could see why this horse was available at 33-1 last weekend when connections were giving the impression that they might opt out of the race with this classy eight-year-old. Now that they have made their decision and he is a definite runner, I find it very surprising that a horse with such a sexy profile remains at those odds, though he is shortening with some firms.

There is no doubt about his basic speed, as he remains competitive at a high level on the Flat, being beaten just a length when fourth in the Chester Cup last May. Last summer he was third in the Galway Plate over a distance short of three miles on good ground.

Those efforts would make you worry about his stamina for four and a half miles but his latest run went a long way towards convincing me he is a Grand National type, when he won a 28-runner handicap chase over three miles on heavy going at Leopardstown’s Christmas meeting. He stayed on well that day, having hit the front at the fourth-last.

Yes, he has 11st 5lb, which is as much as any National winner since 1977, and he’s also younger than most winners of the race. But the going will be no worse than good to soft, it seems, meaning that his class should count and he has every chance of staying the trip.

He’s had only seven runs over fences, three of which were in the past two years, so there is the potential for that to let him down, but he appears now to be a capable jumper.

2) Grand Slam Hero 100/1 With Ladbrokes

So long as the ground isn’t watered tonight to the point where it becomes taxing, I see this 100-1 shot having some sort of chance. The winner of five of his 17 chases (and six of his 10 starts for Nigel Twiston-Davies), he is by no means a plodder and beat 15 rivals in Market Rasen’s Summer Plate last July. He won again at Ffos Las in August and is only 5lb higher in the handicap than he was that day, on a nice racing weight of 10st 7lb.

There have been hiccups, including on his recent return to Ffos Las, when he was pulled up. But that was his first start for five months and the yard were out of sorts at the time but have since returned to something like the form they were showing in the autumn.

He also managed to fall at the first in the Galway Plate and I know that even some of those close to the yard have doubts about his ability to jump round the National course. They do not, however, include the trainer, who told me the other day that the horse is a good jumper.

Well, we’ll see. He would, of course, have to put it all together in order to be competitive on Saturday but that is not beyond this talented handicapper who goes well on a decent surface. He is far from the most likely winner but he should not be counted out.

3) In Compliance 66/1 with Ladbrokes

A bit like Silver Birch, this could be a winner to which people will respond by going: “Ohhhh. He used to be really good, didn’t he?”

In Compliance is actually a Grade One winner, having won the John Durkan at the end of 2006, when he was six. Alas, injury problems restricted him to two runs, both defeats, in the next three years.

He was finally moved into handicaps last spring, running sixth in both the Byrne Group Plate at the Cheltenham Festival and in the Topham over the National fences. Both those efforts may be seen as encouraging in the context of this race if you believe that what he wanted was further than three miles.

After a gap of seven months, he returned in January and has put up four good efforts this year, all over two and a half miles or shorter. He actually managed to win at Thurles, when the going was heavy and he was wearing blinkers for the first time.

Dessie Hughes has left those off this time because, as he told me: “He’ll need to see.” He’ll wear cheekpieces, which he has worn twice before, unseating once and then finishing third over a short trip on fast ground.

He’s had such a low strike-rate in recent years that any kind of poor run would be no surprise at all. But he seems to retain enough of his ability to get involved if he turns up in good nick and takes to the race. He’s 66-1 but is also joint-fourth in Timeform’s ratings for the race.

4) Comply Or Die 50/1 With Ladbrokes

Speaking of low strike-rates, Comply Or Die has not won since the 2008 Grand National, when he beat King Johns Castle by four lengths. This is not completely surprising. He went flying up the ratings for that effort and he would hardly be the first horse to be uninspired by normal courses after running well around Aintree.

He was second to Mon Mome in the 2009 race under 11st 6lb, an excellent effort, but was stuffed in 12th place last year with one pound less to carry. That sort of decline would not normally be followed by a return to form.

But he has only 10st 8lb to carry this time, a manageable burden for the first time since he won the race. His form this season is hardly exciting but he showed enough at Warwick in January, when he led to the third-last, to suggest that he can still get involved when things fall right for him.

It’s hard to see him winning again but he’s 50-1 and that seems too big for a horse who has shown himself so suited to this test. It is not beyond him to get placed again.

5) Surface To Air 66/1 with Ladbrokes

You rarely get offered 66-1 about a horse who has won three of his past four races. The explanation is that Surface To Air has spent almost three years on the sidelines with injury since those wins, the most recent of which came in Uttoxeter’s Summer National in June 2008.

He finally made his comeback in a hurdle race at Market Rasen last month, when he finished tailed off. It was a disappointing effort, even for a prep run.

But if Chris Bealby has managed to get him to peak fitness, this 10-year-old has the ability to get involved off a rating only 8lb higher than the one from which he achieved his latest win. Backing him requires a total leap of faith on the issues of his fitness and how much ability he retains but my feeling is that 80-1 overstates the problems facing him.

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