Thursday, 25 July 2019

Leighton Aspell Returns to Aintree to Win Back to Back Grand Nationals (2015)

Grand National 2015
There was a clear punter’s favourite going into the 2015 Crabbie Grand National, as AP McCoy was bidding for a first win in the race since 2010, with his horse Shutthefrontdoor backed into 6-1. There were just 39 runners for the first time in 11 years after number 14, Carlito Brigante was declared as a non-runner shortly before the race and a glorious Aintree, bathed in sunshine, roared as the starter raised his flag.

They sped towards the first fence, which was cleared by all but three horses, as outsiders Ely Brown and Gas Line Boy came a cropper, along with Denis O’Regan on Al Co. Bob Ford was the lead horse heading towards the second, but it was too early to tell how the race would pan out.

Becher’s

A clearer picture was forming over Becher’s for the first time, as Rebel Rebellion took the initiative to pull 2 lengths ahead of the nearest challenger. By the Canal Turn, the casualty count had risen to nine, with Richard John and Balthazar King falling, also taking Ruby Walsh on Ballycasey out of the race as he did so.

Ryan Mahon was still travelling well at the front on Rebel Rebellion heading towards the half way point of the race and the chasing pack included favourite Shutthefrontdoor in around 6th place. A great cheer rose into the sky as the horses passed in front of the grandstand with the field beginning to stretch out and 33-1 shot Rainbow Hunter joined the lead with Aidan Coleman on The Druid’s Nephew.

Obstruction

The same three shared the lead going over Becher’s for the second time as an announcement came out over the tannoy that obstructions at Canal Turn would meant it would be omitted from the rest of the race. Rebel Rebellion started to tire shortly after and dropped well away, leaving The Druid’s Nephew, Soll and Many Clouds contending for the lead, with Shutthefrontdoor on their shoulder.

The 4th from last saw the end of the action for The Druid’s Nephew as AP looked to be moving ominously towards the front, but it was Many Clouds ridden by last year’s winning jockey Leighton Aspell that was setting the pace.

Irish Joy

This is how it stayed for the rest of the race and it was Leighton Aspell who provided Trevor Hemmings with his first National winner since Ballabriggs in 2011. It was the first time a jockey had won back to back Nationals since the mid 70s when the feat was achieved by Brian Fletcher on the legend that was Red Rum.

It had been another great occasion at Aintree and none thought more so than everyone connected to Many Clouds.