History repeated itself before the 2016 Crabbie Grand National, as O'Faolains Boy was declared lame on the morning of the race, reducing the field to 39. Another absentee of note was Pineau de Re, the 2014 winner, who didn’t qualify fast enough for the final 40.
Last year’s winner, Many Clouds was installed as 8-1 joint favourite with The Last Samurai, meaning Leighton Aspell was in with a shout of making it 3 Grand National Winners in succession, a feat that had never been achieved by anyone in the 167 previous runnings of the race.
Another wonderfully bright and sunny day graced Aintree at the start of the big 4.15 race. The field got underway with no problems and the first few fences would see Hadrian’s Approach, Holywell and First Lieutenant fall. The running was quite uneventful, with the expected amount of vying for position and 50-1 outsider Aachen as the surprise front runner, with Many Clouds and The Last Samurai well placed.
Though the fall count had been mercifully low up until the approach to the 21st fence, this was about to markedly change as the next two fences (including Becher’s Brook) saw more than a fifth of the field have their races cut short. Amongst them were Denis O’Regan on The Druid’s Nephew, Soll and Sam Waley-Cohen’s mount Black Thunder.
The two favourites were well in contention over Canal Turn, with last year’s runner up Saint Are in front and looking strong. The going was heavy and several riders who had been in contention were beginning to feel the pace, as the three riders headed for home. The Last Samurai looked to steal a march, but was being tracked by the Mouse Morris trained Rule The World that had joined the front and as Many Clouds made a big mistake and falling four from home, it became a three horse race.
There was nothing in it over the last and going through the elbow, Rule The World edged in front to finish 6 lengths clear.
Having never won over fences before, Rule The World had triumphed in the biggest steeplechase in the sport, truly living up to his name. David Mullins and Mouse Morris were cockahoop as it had turned out to be an unexpectedly momentous day for them and for the Gigginstown House Stud.