Grand National: Auroras Encore wins at Aintree
Last Updated: 07/04/13 10:23am
Auroras Encore gallops to victory in the Grand National at Aintree
Auroras Encore, trained by Sue Smith and ridden by Ryan Mania, won the John Smith's Grand National at Aintree at odds of 66/1.
Second in the Scottish version of the race at Ayr last season, the 11-year-old had lost his form this term but bounced back to his best on better ground to take the world's most famous jumps race.
Cappa Bleu (12/1) made relentless late progress into the winner's advantage, but Auroras Encore had seized enough of a lead at the elbow to hold off all pursuers by nine lengths.
Teaforthree (10/1), who was always to the fore, gave best only close home to come a creditable third, while Oscar Time (66/1) was fourth and Rare Bob (16/1) fifth.
It was reported soon after the race that no horses or jockeys had been injured - indeed all 40 runners were still standing until after Becher's Brook on the first circuit.
The winner had to survive a couple of minor jumping errors but was never too far off the pace and his fencing improved as the race warmed up.
Of the well-fancied runners, Colbert Station unseated Tony McCoy at the Chair, On His Own seemed to be struggling when falling at Valentine's Brook on the second circuit, while favourite Seabass travelled strongly two out but faded badly from that point and ultimately finished back in 13th.
Scottish-born rider Mania, who briefly gave up riding a couple of years ago when struggling for mounts, said: "There's no words to describe it, I got a dream ride all the way - I couldn't believe my luck.
"I couldn't fault the old horse. He was second in the Scottish National last year and I thought I should stay loyal to him and thank God I did.
"I never really had an anxious moment, he made a couple of mistakes, that's all. I knew he was capable, even though he hadn't been running well. This is always his time of year, but you couldn't be confident."
Bingley-based Smith added: "It's unbelievable, he gave him such a good ride. I knew the ground was right for him and hoped everything else was. He stayed down the middle and had a bit of luck in running. He didn't have a lot of weight and that helped, too.
"He's such a grand little horse, you can ride him anyway you like. I just feel sorry for the previous owners, who were wonderful and sold him because of ill health."
Smith's husband, the former world-famous showjumper Harvey Smith, said: "It's superb, absolutely spot-on.
"All the horses have come back in one piece. Everyone has worked hard to get it as a safe course and that has proved it today."