Wednesday, 13 February 2019

Ryan Mania on Aurora’s Encore Storms Home to Win the 2013 Grand National

Grand National 2013
The 166th running of the John Smith’s Grand National was blessed with glorious April sunshine, as the waiting field cast long shadows across the track, eagerly awaiting starters orders. They went off cleanly with no hitches and Balthazar King hit the front first, leading the still complete field successfully over the first 4 fences.

Amazingly, there were still no fallers or refusal having cleared Becher’s for the first time, although the forty runners and riders had spread out somewhat after their efforts at the last fence. The commentator grew increasingly surprised as fence after fence was cleared by the entire complement of National runners.


It had to end at some point and it did as Canal Turn proved too much for The Rainbow Hunter, Treacle and Big Fella Thanks who all unseated their riders.

At the Halfway point, there were still 35 runners involved and it was Irish horse Across The Bay, ridden by Henry Brook who led the bunched riders round the turn. Richard Johnson steered Balthazar King from The Bushmakers stable just a half a length back, with Soll alongside him.

It was to be another miserable Grand National for A P McCoy, as he was thrown from the saddle falling with Colbert Station at the chair. Over the next few plain fences, the order stayed the same at the front and Across the bay pulled 3 to 4 lengths clear.

Henry Brook and his horse Across The Bay held this lead until Canal Turn when Tea For Two drifted past him. There was no distinct shape to the race going over the last open ditch, with each horse seeming to find staying upright a difficult enough job on its own, but the first three remained in place before being joined by Aurora’s Encore in 4th.

Striking For Home

Two from home and it was anybody’s race, with Sam Waley-Cohen on Oscar Time in with a shout and Aurora’s Encore staying in touch. The 11 year old pulled clear going into the elbow, Ryan Mania squeezing every inch of speed out of the horse and pulling away on the outside, it was a powerful run in that ultimately won the National for the Irish bred, British trained racehorse.

Ryan Mania’s win on the unfancied Sue Smith trained outsider was a big shock and marked only the third time a female trainer had trained the National winner.

On his win in his first ever National, Ryan Mania enthused "There are no words to describe it. I got a dream ride round. I couldn't believe my luck." and you could see on his face that it meant the world to him.

Friday, 1 February 2019

Leighton Aspell Steers French Horse Pineau de Re to Claim the 2014 Aintree Grand National

Grand National 2014
The false start curse struck again in this year’s Crabbie Grand National, as the race got underway at the second time of asking with the sheepskin noseband of Battle Group up in the air with the horse refusing to start.

Hazy sunshine broke through the muggy sky as the race lost 3 runners in the first three fences and Sam Waley-Cohen hit the front on Long Run, just a fraction ahead of the closely packed field. Last Time D'Albain was the next to go at Becher’s and pre race joint favourites Teaforthree and Double Seven sat in 6th and 7th respectively.

After several fallers at Valentine’s, a fence that saw the end of Long Run, Mountainous and the Aidan Coleman owned Rainbow Hunter, Across the Bay took it up just ahead of Mr Moonshine with last year’s National winning jockey Ryan Mania in the saddle.


Across the Bay ridden by Henry Brooke still lead jumping over the Chair, narrowly avoiding disaster thanks to an errant riderless horse. The Bay recovered to maintain his advantage over Colbert Station who was now in 2nd place, but the 15th saw the end of Teaforthree’s and Nick Schofield’s National for another year.


Two stray horses were to prove to be Across the Bay’s downfall, as they carried the unfortunate Henry Brooke and his ride well wide, allowing the entire field to pass by. He did rejoin the race, but was never again in contention.

Noel Fehily seized the opportunity this stroke of bad fortune had provided, as he steered Rocky Creek to the front of the pack. Colbert Station remained in second place as the race passed in front of the cheering crowd and the rain began to fall and A P McCoy was well placed on Double Seven, hoping to make a successful return to the race after a few years of disappointment.

Second Jumping of Becher’s

As the field stretched going over Becher’s Brook in worsening weather conditions, Rocky Creek was still holding his position at the head of the race. Pineau de Re was making his first tentative moves towards the front at this point with the horse going well in around 6th place.

Heading For Home

As they turned for home, there were 2 clear leaders, with Rocky Creek vying for first with Pineau de Rey who was really picking up the pace. This was a decisive moment as Leighton Aspell rode strongly over the last, pulling 3 lengths clear and having cleared the elbow, it was evident that Pineau de Rey had the legs to stay the course and he did so by 5 lengths followed by Balthazar King and A P McCoy a close third on Double Seven.

It was a win for Aspell on his 7th Grand National appearance and one that earned his jubilant owners Barry Connell and John Provan a cool £561,300 in prize money.

After the race, the World Horse Welfare stated that they were happy with the modifications that had been made and the effect they had had on equine welfare at this year’s race. Another reason to feel good about racing on this most momentous of days.