April 17, 2013 Leave a comment
Champagne corks would not have just been popping at Sue Smith’s Bingley yard after Auroras Encore’s shock 66/1 victory but the BHA and all concerned with improving the welfare of horses in the race would have breathed a sighed a huge sigh of relief over a glass of the fizzy stuff as the 2013 Grand National produced a magnificent spectacle with all 40 horses and jockeys returning from the four mile four furlong marathon trip safely.
Aintree have prided themselves on introducing safety measures over the last 12 months after two horses, including 2012 Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Synchronised, suffered fatal injuries in the world’s greatest steeplechase last year, and the Merseyside venue would’ve been triumphing over the positive impact their changes made to what was still a highlight of not only National Hunt racing but of the UK sporting calendar.
Witticisms were flying in ten to the dozen in the lead-up to the race with some in the racing ranks referring to the race as a potential glorified hurdle race, but the 4m 3f 110y marathon lost none of its glitz and glamour as the 40-strong field went careering to the first fence.
The obstacles have certainly become a lot less taxing on the horses, as they are now able to brush through the top of the fences with more ease, but the view of watching these 40 equine superstars jumping round the idiosyncratic course still created a buzz around the millions that were watching the race around the world.
Going into the race all eyes had been on Katie Walsh, as her mount Seabass was backed off the boards, but as he did 12 months ago, the Ted Walsh-trained raider failed to see out the closing stages, whilst the fellow Irish raiders Colbert Station and On His Own had both failed to make it around the course after falling in the middle part of the contest.
Meanwhile at the head of affairs Nick Scholfield was gaining a real tune out of Teaforthree, but the petrol tank was plummeting in the red as a tired jump at the last handed the initiative to Ryan Mania on board Auroras Encore and the 2012 Scottish National runner-up and the pair duly sprinted clear to send the bookmakers into raptures and a new name catapulted into the newspapers.
Mania was a name only known in racing quarters, but no doubt editors across the land enjoyed compiling their punchy headings utilising the Scotsman’s surname, but his fall the following day at Hexham, where he was airlifted to hospital just brought home to the nation the ups and downs with the national hunt world.
After being discharged from hospital, Mania will have to spend some time on the sidelines, but he will desperate to be back in the plate for Auroras Encore’s next race, which looks set to be in the Scottish National at Ayr on April 20, where he tries to emulate the legendary Red Rum by notching up the Grand National and Scottish National double and he is currently around the 12/1 market in the latest betting to secure victory north of the border.