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Dublin: 4°C Tuesday 26 January 2021
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66-1 shot Auroras Encore wins Grand National at Aintree

Cappa Bleu was second ahead of Teafortree who made a mistake at the last.

Ryan Mania kisses the Grand National Trophy.
Ryan Mania kisses the Grand National Trophy.
Image: Dave Thompson/PA Wire/Press Association Images

THE PRE-RACE hype was all about Katie Walsh and her bid to make history on the race favourite Seabass.

But it wasn’t to be.

Ryan Mania won on his first ride in the Grand National this afternoon, just two years after giving up riding, as he guided outsider Auroras Encore to a shock victory at Aintree racecourse.

The 23-year-old Scottish jockey gave a perfect ride to the 66/1 chance – trained by Sue Smith wife of former leading showjumper Harvey – who beat home Welsh duo Cappa Bleu (12/1) and Teaforthree (10/1) while the 2011 runner-up Oscar Time was fourth.

Auroras Encore – who won by nine lengths – was a local win as one of the three owners Jim Beaumont is Liverpool-born and started his working life as a bellboy in the upmarket Adelphi Hotel. In a memorable race 17 of the 40 runners finished and most importantly for the racing authorities the reforms to the race after four fatalities in the past two years there were none in this renewal.

Mania seized his chance when Teaforthree hit the last after looking set to give Wales their first win in the race since Kirkland in 1905.

He was never in trouble after that as Cappa Bleu, fourth last year, ran on to rob Teaforthree of second while Cheltenham Gold Cup winning amateur rider Sam Waley-Cohen produced another fantastic ride to take fourth.

“He gave me a dream ride, he’s brilliant. I had the choice of two horses to ride, I wasn’t sure which one to go for,” said Mania. “He loved every second of it, just class – he was second in the Scottish National last season. He made a couple of little mistakes then learned from them.”

Sue Smith said that everything had colluded to give her runner every chance.

“You can ride him anywhere, anyhow, the ground was in his favour, he had no weight, Ryan gave him a fanstastic ride,” she said.

Husband Harvey added: “That was absolutely spot on.”

Asked how this compared to his show jumping days the 74-year-old told Channel 4: “You’ve got to look forward so this is the best, but unfortunately we’re all getting older.”

However, he was less sure about whether it would improve their marriage.

“We’re a bit antiquish for that aren’t we!”

Katie Walsh’s hopes of becoming the first woman rider to win the greatest steeplechase in the world looked promising midway round the second circuit on 11-2 favourite Seabass. Riding upsides brother Ruby, who was on second favourite On My Own, her mount was going easily.

However, while On My Own fell Seabass kept on but rounding the turn to the straight the signs were out as he came under the whip and faded.

Indeed the strong Irish challenge rated as one of the strongest ever foundered completely, Treacle being the first faller but at the seventh fence while Rare Bob was the best of those that finished in fifth leaving them without a win since 2007.

© AFP, 2013

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