Friday, 16 November 2018

Jason MacGuire Triumphs on Ballabriggs to Win the 2011 Aintree Grand National

Grand National 2011
Just 12 months previously, A P McCoy had ridden Don’t Push It to win the 2010 Grand National and he was installed as joint 2nd favourite on the same horse alongside Silver By Nature ridden by Northern Irishman Peter Buchanan, both backed into 9-1. The most popular money however was on Ruby Walsh on The Midnight Club who was fancied as the 15-2 favourite.

Sunshine graced the start of the 2011 John Smith’s Grand National Grade 3 Handicap and by the 3rd fence, it was Ballabriggs making the running from Hello Bud, who came close in last year’s race. There had only been a few casualties by this point, with outsiders Becauseicouldntsee, Vic Venturi and That’s Rhythm the unfortunate trio.

The leaders fared well over both Becher’s and Foinavon, but that wasn’t the case for everyone as the field reduced further with West End Rocker, The Tother One, Dooney’s Gate and Barry Geraghty on Or Noir de Somoza all falling foul.

Jamie Moore

Santa’s Son had made his way through the melee to reach the front, guided by the brave Jamie Moore who had once been told he wouldn’t walk again after fracturing two vertebrae in a fall in 2004. Puppy Power had also joined the leaders on Killyglen and Hello Bud was tucked in behind.

The entire field had become quite closely bunched with the lead changing hands several times and Santa’s Son was still leading after clearing the Chair. However, this was short lived, as a strong looking Ballabriggs strode into the lead over the water and so it remained, with fence 20 being omitted from the race due to an obstruction.

Becher’s was also omitted just two fences later for the same reason meaning the race had experienced the first and second time it had ever happened.


Ballabriggs almost came a cropper over Valentine’s, but MacGuire somehow managed to hold on and held onto the lead, being pressed by Harry Skelton on Niche Market. How fortunate that was, as it was an advantage Ballabriggs would not relinquish again.

Despite being tested through the elbow by Sam Waley-Cohen on Oscar Time, Jason MacGuire claimed the £535,135 prize money for Trevor Hemmings and the accolades for himself. It had been a hot day in more than one sense and the extreme temperatures meant that Ballabriggs was too dehydrated to take his lap of honour, marking the first time a jockey had ever entered the winner’s enclosure without his champion horse.

Thursday, 1 November 2018

Grand National thoughts and ones to watch in 2019

If there's one racing festival or rather a specific festival race that holds both worldwide and national appeal, it's the Aintree Grand National. Taking place each year in the village of Aintree in Liverpool, the Grand National was first run in 1839. That alone gives you a taste of just how steeped in tradition this handicap steeplechase event is. With prize money of over £1 million and TV audiences of around 8.5m viewers in the UK alone (and 600m worldwide) it's no wonder this is 'the one to win' for horse trainers, owners and jockeys alike.

Fun Fact: The Grand National TV audience is bigger than that of the Superbowl (111m in 2017) and UEFA Champions League (118m) combined!

It's no easy task to traverse the National course with 30 tough fences over two laps of the racecourse. This includes notorious fences such as Becher's Brook (described by some jockey's as feeling like 'jumping off the edge of the world') and The Chair (a 5ft 3 inch fence just ahead of a 6 foot open ditch). A combination of its difficulty and history is responsible for the Aintree course becoming something of a legend maker, with the likes of Red Rum achieving a place in racing royalty due to their Grand National successes. For those living under a rock, the Ginger McCain trained Red Rum was a three time Grand National winner in the 70s. Winner of the 2018 Grand National was Tiger Roll ridden by Davey Russell.

The much anticipated 2019 Grand National takes place on Saturday April 6th at 17:15 and already people are considering the odds and runners and who the potential winner may be, out of those horses that may line up on the day. Of course it's an impossible question to answer at this stage, but based on previous form, trainer comments and the like we have early ideas for potential runners and what their prospects may be.

We'll start with an obvious likely runner. Tiger Roll (currently 20-1), winner of the 2018 race is surely likely to attempt to go for back to back wins. Defending the Grand National crown in a rarity especially in the modern age, but 8 year old Tiger Roll is certainly up for the task, having shown his abilities not only in the National but also at Cheltenham and more besides.

Pleasant Company (25-1) was 2nd in the 2018 Grand National and so again it would also be no surprise to see him attempt to go one better in 2019. He eased around the course in 2018 when many struggled, and came close rallying towards the end, so who can blame trainer Willie Mullins for being optimistic. Mullins also trained Hedgehunter, who finished second back in 2006.

Other potentials for 2019 include Bellshill, Step Back, Total Recall and 2017 Grand National winner One For Arthur!