Blue skies and sunshine blessed the 2003 Martell Grand National at Aintree and in the lead up to the world famous steeplechase, all the talk was of clear 7-1 favourite Shotgun Willy, ridden by Ruby Walsh. Having already won the National just 3 years earlier, the 9 year old was heavily backed in the 4 mile 4 furlong race, which was limited to 40 runners.
After the off, Tremallt, ridden by Jason Macguire made the early running, leading over Becher’s Brook for the first time, followed closely by the Joe Tizzard on Montifault, Blowing Wind,Torduff Express and Monty’s Pass ridden by Barry Geraghty.
By fence 16 of this 30 fence race, 9 of the field had gone by the wayside, including Youllneverwalkalone, ridden by Conor O’Dwyer and Tony McCoy mount, Iris Bleu. Both were fancied and backed into 8-1.
The bookies favourite, Shotgun Willy had not had the best of races, failing to make any headway on the leading pack. The Irish chestnut Gelding, trained by P F Nicholls and owned by Paul Beck faded and pulled up just after jumping Becher’s for the second time.
Heading for Home
The following few fences sorted the men from the boys and going over Canal Turn, the field had become very spread out, with a small leading group had forming that included 16-1 shot, Monty’s Pass, Barry Fenton on Gunner Welburn, Montifault, Amberleigh House and Torduff Express.
Going into the 2nd from home, the leading pack had been reduced to three, with 10 year old Monty’s Pass, Amberleigh House and the Andrew Balding trained Gunner Welburn vying for the lead. This was where the race was won, as Irishman, Barry Geraghty found strode away through the elbow on Monty’s Pass.
Accelerating and pulling away all the time, Monty’s Pass went on to win by an impressive 12 lengths from Supreme Glory who got up well in the final furlongs to finish second, with Amberleigh House in 3rd.
Irish eyes were smiling at Aintree, as another Irish win was confirmed at the world’s grandest steeplechase, earning the winning owner, Mike Futter a cool £348,000.