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. © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010

Many Clouds gives Leighton Aspell back-to-back Grand National wins

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Powered by article titled “Many Clouds gives Leighton Aspell back-to-back Grand National wins” was written by Greg Wood at Aintree, for The Observer on Saturday 11th April 2015 17.35 UTC

Tony McCoy seems adamant that he will not reconsider his decision to retire but, for the second year running, the Grand National was won by a jockey who did just that. McCoy, who finished fifth on Shutthefrontdoor, was one of the first people to congratulate Leighton Aspell after his victory on the 25-1 chance Many Clouds, 12 months after the victorious jockey had won the race on another 25-1 shot, Pineau De Re.

Aspell spent two years out of the weighing room after losing his enthusiasm for race-riding in 2007, but his decision to return has proved to be inspired. He is the first rider since Brian Fletcher, who rode Red Rum in 1973 and 1974, to win the National two years running and the first since Bryan Marshall in 1953 and 1954 to do so on different horses.

All eyes, inevitably, were on McCoy as the field went around their first circuit and a half of Aintree and he kept the 6-1 favourite out of trouble and jumping well as a steady trickle of runners either fell or unseated their jockeys. The survivors were directed around the Canal Turn on the second circuit as Balthazar King, last year’s runner-up, received treatment after a fall first time around, and after The Druids Nephew, who was still going well, fell when leading at the fifth-last fence, Shutthefrontdoor was still travelling like a potential winner.

But so was Many Clouds, a horse with the class to win the Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury in November, one of the toughest and most competitive races of the season, before lining up as one of the favourites for the Gold Cup at Cheltenham last month. His quality meant that he had 11st 9lb to carry, just 1lb below the top weight and the highest burden carried to victory since Red Rum’s success under the old top weight of 12 stone in 1974, but he had adapted swiftly to the challenge of the big fences, vindicating the decision of Oliver Sherwood, his trainer, and Trevor Hemmings, his owner, to send him to the race just four weeks after his run at Cheltenham.

Many Clouds was left in front by the fall of The Druids Nephew and Aspell needed no further invitation to set off for the line. He was giving half a stone to Shutthefrontdoor, but McCoy’s mount was struggling to raise a serious challenge before they had jumped the last. The most successful jockey in National Hunt history has often seemed to get horses home by force of will, but even he has his limits.

Instead it was another 25-1 chance, Saint Are, who emerged from the pursuers after the last and tried to chase down Many Clouds. He was gaining on the leader in the final furlong but never at a rate that gave him a real chance of catching the winner. Hemmings’s familiar green-and-yellow quartered colours passed the line in front for the third time in a Grand National, following the victories of Hedgehunter and Ballabriggs in 2005 and 2011, with one and three-quarter lengths to spare over Saint Are, with Monbeg Dude third at 40-1 and Alvarado back in fourth for the second year running.

“When Aidan [Coleman, on The Druids Nephew] fell, my horse just pricked his ears and had a breather for three or four furlongs,” Aspell said afterwards. “I would have liked a couple alongside me when we got to the Elbow [just over a furlong out] just to push him along a bit. It’s a lonely place there and you’re running into a funnel. He’s all heart though and has given every ounce he possibly could have.

“I remember watching this race in a field on a small TV after I retired a few years ago. I never thought I’d ever win it once, let alone twice. He’s a great friend of mine, this horse. Last year I had to work hard at various points in the race, and I had to do a light weight before the National so I was a tired man. Today I had a lovely smooth passage around.”

Aspell set out knowing that he was on one of the best horses in the race, but a lacklustre run in the Gold Cup, when Many Clouds finished sixth, sowed the only seeds of doubt in the minds of his jockey and trainer.

“He just disappointed us there a little bit,” Aspell said. “He’d been training and eating very well since and giving us all the right signals, it was just a nagging doubt in the back of my mind whether he would be in tip-top form.

“I asked him some big questions and he has dug really deep. I tried to conserve energy because he had a hard race in the Gold Cup and it’s a wonderful training performance by Oliver to freshen him up and recharge the batteries. He’s all heart and he gave me the best ride I have ever had over these fences. I was just hoping that the battery life would last.”

The Grand National is so intensely competitive that most National Hunt owners can only dream of winning it once. Hemmings, though, has now enjoyed as many victories as Noel Le Mare, the owner of Red Rum, but with three different horses.

“There’s a style of horse that I purchase,” Hemmings said, “but I’m buying a slightly different sort of horse now than I did 20 years ago. They’re a slightly smarter sort of horse than the originals, and that’s how racing and the National have changed.”

2015 Crabbie’s Grand National – where they finished:

1st Many Clouds 25/1

2nd Saint Are 25-1 – 1 3/4 Lengths

3rd Mondbeg Dude 40-1 – 6 Lengths

4th Alvarado 20-1 – 3 1/2 Lengths

5th Shutthefrontdoor 6-1Fav – 1 1/2 Lengths

6th Royale Knight 25-1 – 2 1/4 Lengths

7th Tranquil Sea 33-1 – 10 Lengths

8th Cause Of Causes 14-1 – 2 1/4 Lengths

9th Soll 9-1 – 14 Lengths

10th Chance Du Roy 40-1 – 10 Lengths

11th Mon Parrain 33-1 – 5 Lengths

12th Pineau De Re 25-1 – 1 1/2 Lengths

13th Owega Star 50-1 – 6 Lengths

14th Spring Heeled 25-1 – 25 Lengths

15th Oscar Time 20-1 – 2 1/2 Lengths

16th First Lieutenant 14-1 – 3 3/4 Lengths

17th Rocky Creek 8-1 – 5 Lengths

18th Night In Milan 20-1 – 2 1/2 Lengths

19th Dolatulo 66-1 – 3 1/4 Lengths


Fence One: Al Co (unseated), Gas Line Boy (fell), Ely Brown (fell)

Fence Three: Rubi Light (unseated rider)

Fence Four: Corrin Wood (pulled up)

Fence Five: Unioniste (fell)

Fence Six: River Choice (fell)

Fence Eight: Balthazar King (fell), Ballycasey (brought down)

Fence 18: Court By Surprise (pulled up)

Fence 25: Lord Windermere (pulled up), Across The Bay (pulled up), Super Duty (pulled up)

Fence 26: Rebel Rebellion (pulled up), The Rainbow Hunter (fell), The Druids Nephew (fell)

Fence 28: Portrait King (fell)

Fence 29: Godsmejudge (pulled up), Wyck Hill (pulled up), Bob Ford (pulled up) © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010

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Pineau De Re wins the Grand National 2014

Pineau De Re winning pic

Powered by article titled “Pineau De Re wins the Grand National at Aintree” was written by Chris Cook at Aintree, for 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. © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010

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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. © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010

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Grand National 2nd favourite Prince De Beauchene ruled out


Powered by article titled “Grand National contender Prince De Beauchene ruled out by injury” was written by Chris Cook, for on Wednesday 27th March 2013 01.06 UTC

Prince De Beauchene, who had been second favourite for the Grand National, has been ruled out of the race on 6 April. His trainer, Willie Mullins, placed a statement on his website on Tuesday evening, reporting that the horse had sustained a stress fracture to a hip bone.

It is the second consecutive year that the horse has been a late withdrawal from the Aintree race, as he suffered an identical injury in the build-up to the 2012 renewal, for which he was also fancied. He got three days closer to the race this time.

“We have had some bad news about Prince De Beauchene,” Mullins wrote on the front page of his website. “He had not been striding out for the last few days and, following a bone scan in Troytown Veterinary Hospital, it has been confirmed that he has a minor stress fracture in his ilium. He will require at least six weeks’ box rest, so unfortunately he will miss the Aintree Grand National.”

The news was delivered in no other way and most people became aware when Prince De Beauchene’s odds on the Betfair website drifted alarmingly towards 100-1. He had been no bigger than 12-1 with conventional bookmakers.

Mullins still has a strong hand for the National a week on Saturday, led by the favourite, On His Own, who is owned, like Prince De Beauchene, by Graham Wylie. The unlucky Wylie is also the owner of Tidal Bay, ruled out of the National when a stress fracture to a cannon bone was discovered in February. © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010

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Clare Balding calls for change to start of the Grand National 2013

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Clare Balding, who will anchor coverage of the Grand National at Aintree when it is televised by Channel 4 Racing for the first time next April, has entered the debate on the world’s most famous race by suggesting that any horses that cross the starting line too early should be forced to start at the back of the field.

Balding also believes that the distance of the National should be reduced by almost a furlong to allow the runners to start at the Melling Road, cutting the length of the headlong charge to the first fence.

“My feeling is that the start has been a massive problem for the last three years,” Balding said this week. “I’d move the start to the Melling Road, and anyone who goes over the start line early will have to go to the back of the grid, so there is a penalty straight away.

“That means they won’t all charge it and it will slow down the pace to the first fence, which has a knock-on effect.”

The British Horseracing Authority recently completed its official review of the 2012 Grand National, in which two horses – Synchronised, the Gold Cup winner, and According To Pete – suffered fatal injuries. The Authority’s board considered the final report earlier this week, and its findings and recommendations are due to be published within the next few days.

The review is expected to recommend new procedures at the start of the race, which has caused persistent problems in recent years. This year’s renewal was badly delayed, first when Synchronised unshipped Tony McCoy and ran loose for several minutes, and then by two false starts. The BHA subsequently suggested that all 40 jockeys in the National had been in breach of the rules over the start, but did not lay any charges.

However, the review is not expected to recommend any significant changes be made to the Grand National course or the famous fences.

Neither of the two fatalities in this year’s race occurred as the direct result of a fall, as Synchronised was injured while running loose and According To Pete was brought down by another horse at Becher’s Brook on the second circuit.

Balding believes that the fences should be left as they are. “I wouldn’t reduce the size of the fences any more,” she said. “If anything, I’d consider putting them back to where they were, without bringing back the drops [between take-off and landing where these have already been removed].”

Meanwhile, the BHA said that 42 of its raceday staff have been warned that they are at risk of redundancy following an operational review which has “identified two areas … where efficiencies could be achieved”.

Three separate teams of staff – stable yard integrity officers, veterinary technicians and weighing room integrity officers – will be replaced by the single role of the raceday integrity officers. As a result, the 42 employees currently carrying out these tasks are expected to be replaced by a new team representing a total of 26 full-time jobs.

“Having thoroughly considered and discussed these services and issues,” Paul Bittar, the BHA’s chief executive, said, “we have informed the respective teams that we propose to bring their roles together.

“This means that we have had to put three groups of staff at risk of redundancy with immediate effect. Over the coming weeks, we will consult with the union [Unite] and the staff about the new roles and consider any alternative suggestions that they have.

“A recruitment process will then take place to select the right people for the new roles for what will amount to the equivalent of 26 full-time positions.”

The primary responsibility of the new integrity officers will be to safeguard integrity and horse welfare in the racecourse stables, including identification checks and obtaining samples for dope testing.

Bittar said that the intention of the change is to “create a more flexible and efficient raceday service”. He added: “our objective was not simply to save costs, although providing cost-efficient regulatory service to British racing is one of our over-arching goals.” © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010

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Neptune Collonges wins Grand National 2012, but fatalities again

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Neptune Collonges Wins the Grand National 2012

Neptune Collonges, an unfancied 33-1 shot, won a thrilling renewal of the John Smith’s Grand National at Aintree on Saturday — but the race was marred by the death of the Gold Cup winner Synchronised who fell at Becher’s Brook.

According To Pete was a second fatality at the same fence.

Heavily-backed 8-1 joint-favourite Seabass led over the final fence under Katie Walsh, but tired on the run to the Elbow and it was Sunnyhillboy (16-1) who took up the running under Richie McLernon.

Sunnyhillboy looked to have the race in the bag when two lengths clear with just 100 yards left to run, but Neptune Collonges, under a determined Daryl Jacob, gradually closed in and grabbed the verdict by a nose right on the winning post in one of the closest finishes in the history of the race.

Seabass held on for third, five lengths adrift, with Cappa Bleu (16-1) fourth for each-way backers.

For the second time in three years, Ruby Walsh had been forced to miss the ride in the National after an earlier fall in the Aintree Hurdle. Two years ago, a tumble from Celestial Halo forced him on to the sidelines and history repeated itself as favourite Zarkandar came down heavily at the sixth flight.

Walsh was able to walk back to the weighing room but was signed off by the doctor for the rest of the day. Paul Townend replaced him aboard On His Own, who fell when in contention at halfway.

Victory effectively sealed the jump trainers’ championship for Nicholls, but it had looked only an hour earlier as if rival Nicky Henderson had stolen a march when Oscar Whisky (9-4) took advantage of Zarkandar’s fall to complete a lucrative treble for the stable who had also landed the first two contests.

Oscar Whisky had previously finished well held in the World Hurdle at Cheltenham but appreciated the step back in trip and showed plenty of determination under Barry Geraghty to deny Thousand Stars by a neck – the same one-two as in the race 12 months earlier.

Sprinter Sacre (1-7 favourite) outclassed his three rivals in the Maghull Novices’ Chase, coasting home by 13 lengths from Toubab.

“Anything but perfection is going to be disappointing from him,” said Henderson.

“He’s growing up all the time and he can only get stronger. He’s getting very sensible, his scope and swagger is quite extraordinary. He has this aura about him.

“We’ve always said he knows he’s very, very good looking, but just because they are beautiful it doesn’t always make them the best, but with him it does – everything fits, he has the athleticism and attitude.”

The treble for Henderson and Geraghty had begun with Simonsig (4-9 favourite), another to follow up a Cheltenham Festival success when taking the opening Mersey Novice Hurdle. In victory, he earned a quote of 3-1 from Paddy Power for next year’s Arkle Chase. © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010

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