The pre race favourite Blaklion was backed into 8-1 with Noel Fehily in the saddle and a fine and bright Aintree witnessed the opening throws of the race they’d all been waiting for. Such was the anticipation that two false starts had to be endured before the 169th Randox Health Grand National got underway, but it did, much to the delight of the gathered thousands.
Roi de Franc was the early pace setter, as the first two fences proved too much for Cocktails at Dawn and Vicente. Sam Waley Cohen was forced out on The Young Master just 5 fences later at Becher’s Brook, along with the Raz de Maree as the still 36 strong field jumped the Foinavon fence bathed in brilliant sunshine.
The lead changed hands a number of times and by the Canal Turn, there was a new leader in the form of Rogue Angel ridden by Bryan Cooper with Roi de France tucked in behind closely in 2nd.
At the halfway stage, it was ‘as you were’ with the red nose band of Roi de Franc leading by 3 lengths from Rogue Angel and the rest of the field were spread over almost a furlong. Jack Kennedy’s horse was carried out by a riderless horse around the bend, losing a lot of ground, but the 50-1 shot recovered strongly to regain the lead before the next fence.
Around Becher’s again and with the finishing line just 8 fences away, Rogue Angel was looking the stronger of the leading pair, with many wondering just how much energy Roi de Franc would have left after having to recover after nearly exiting the race.
The favourite Blaklion moved with intent to the head of the field shortly after, with Rogue Angel beginning to fade, but Roi de Franc was still hanging in in 3rd. Noel Fehily was really pushing Blaklion over the Melling Road, pulling away to a 3 length lead, but the chasing pack of 10 or so horses included One For Arthur who was travelling particularly well.
Blaklion faltered at the 2nd last, as One For Arthur collided into the back of Noel Fehily’s horse and seem to come out of it looking the stronger of the two and the Scottish trained horse, ridden by Derek Fox struck for home with the crowd seeming to will him home.
It would seem to have worked, as One For Arthur stormed through the elbow, leaving Cause For Causes and Davy Russell on Saint Are in his wake and winning by almost 5 lengths. The scottish flags were waving in delight across Aintree, as this Lucinda Russell trained gelding took the accolades and the £561,300 first prize.
A fantastic National day was made all the sweeter to find out that despite there being 21 fallers in the race, all of the horses had returned to their stables safe and sound.
A great day for the sport indeed!