In one of the most controversial editions of the Grand National in years, Corach Rambler became just the second favourite to prevail in the Aintree steeplechase in the best part of two decades.
Lucinda Russell’s horse joins a very exclusive club that features only the legendary Tiger Roll of outright favourites to oblige for punters in the Grand National – although bookies avoided a bashing as the market fluctuated numerous times as heavy rain fell at Aintree on Friday.
Crowd favourites like the Rachael Blackmore ridden Ain’t That a Shame and defending champion Noble Yeats were both well supported by punters, so the bookies avoided the usual whitewash that comes when a market principle does the business in a flagship race.
Derek Fox, Corach Rambler’s jockey, joined an exclusive band of his own as a two-time winner of the Grand National, although he nearly didn’t get the ride at all – the Irishman had to prove to pessimistic doctors that he was fit to ride, despite suffering a shoulder injury in a fall earlier this month, by performing press-ups on the weighing toom floor.
It was a Grand National beset by protests and campaigners, with more than 100 arrests made as a handful of animal rights activists made their way onto the Aintree track and attempted to glue themselves to a fence. They were swiftly dealt with by police and stewards.
Meanwhile, Sandy Thompson blamed the activists for unsettling the horses in the Grand National field. The trainer’s charge, Hill Sixteen, tragically had to be euthanised after falling at the first fence.
Look at the Positives
Despite the kerfuffle, the race went ahead as planned after a 15-minute delay, and one punter will have been delighted it did after trousering £76,000 from a £13 bet. They enjoyed a five-timer at Aintree on Saturday, headlined by Corach Rambler but also featuring victories for Florida Dreams, West Balboa, Irish Point and Sire Du Berlais on the day’s card.
But the biggest smile on Merseyside was reserved for Russell, whose father Peter died in January and for whom One for Arthur, a famous Grand National winner in 2017, also passed away just a matter of weeks ago.
“I spread some of Arthur’s ashes by the winning post just now,” she revealed. “He changed my life.
“It has been really emotional. I felt a bit sorry for Anthony Bromley, who was sitting next to me, because when the tapes went up, I just started crying, which is pathetic. But it’s just the release of emotion, of producing a horse for the day, and kind of what One For Arthur taught us was how to get a horse right just for the day.”
The winning syndicate behind Corach Rambler have invited the animal rights activists that threatened to derail the Aintree showpiece to visit the Arlary House Stables in Scotland where Russell and Peter Scudamore train dozens of National Hunt campaigners.
Cameron Sword, an Edinburgh student who acquired a £3,400 share in Corach Rambler, has revealed an ‘open door policy’ for the protestors to see how well the horses are treated.