Fairytale Aintree Grand National win for Emmet Mullins and Sam Waley-Cohen

50-1 shot Noble Yeats took the glory.

AMATEUR RIDER SAM Waley-Cohen enjoyed a fairytale finale to his career as steered Noble Yeats to victory in the Randox Grand National at Aintree.

noble-yeats-ridden-by-jockey-sam-waley-cohen-right-wins-the-randox-grand-national-handicap-chase-during-grand-national-day-of-the-randox-health-grand-national-festival-2022-at-aintree-racecourse-li Noble Yeats ridden by jockey Sam Waley-Cohen. Source: Alamy Stock Photo

The 39-year-old announced his intention to retire on Thursday, nominating Emmet Mullins’ charge as his farewell ride in the world’s most famous steeplechase.

Sent off at 50-1, few would have expected Noble Yeats to strike in the extended four-and-a-quarter-mile showpiece – but he ran a magnificent race as he fended off the 15-2 favourite Any Second Now for a famous National success, with Mullins, a nephew of trainer Willie, enjoyed a landmark success.

In a dramatic finish, the winner held off Any Second Now, trained by Ted Walsh and with Mark Walsh on board.

Coming to the last they were the only pair in contention and under a strong drive, Noble Yeats kept finding more to prevail in the colours of Waley-Cohen’s father, Robert.

Delta Work (10-1) was third with Santini (33-1) in fourth. Last year’s winner Minella Times, for the successful Rachael Blackmore-Henry de Bromhead partnership, was an early faller.

noble-yeats-ridden-by-sam-waley-cohen-celebrates-winning-the-randox-grand-national-handicap-chase-during-grand-national-day-of-the-randox-health-grand-national-festival-2022-at-aintree-racecourse-liv Celebrations for Sam Waley-Cohen. Source: Alamy Stock Photo

A jubilant Waley-Cohen – who won the Cheltenham Gold Cup with Long Run in 2011 – said: “He ran for me, he couldn’t go the early pace and I just tried to find pockets to give him a bit of space to run into. I found myself on the inner and was going more forward than I wanted to.

“He loves seeing his fences, so I kept trying to find a spot where he could see them. When I asked him he came, but if I just half-asked him he wasn’t confident, so I was trying to sit against him – he likes the bit in his mouth and your legs against him.

“I was just trying to get him in that nice rhythm and as soon as I asked him, he went.

“I thought I’d gone too early (at the last). I really didn’t want to get there then, but as soon as he picked up I thought ‘he’s gone, he’s got this’.

“Dad has always supported me unwaveringly, we’ve never had a cross word, it’s always been for fun. It’s been a love affair. To my wife, long-suffering, they aren’t all good days, there are bad days in this sport.

Gavin Cooney
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“We came here thinking the sun’s out, it’s your last ride – go and have a nice spin, no expectations. Just enjoy it.

“It’s a dream. I couldn’t believe it.”

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