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And so to the main event. This is horse racing with a difference. It’s all for one and one for all. It’s where rougher meets tougher. Emotions get raw. Where grit and endurance become an art. And courage and chance play an equal part. It’s nailed-on favourites finding their downfall. It’s underdogs standing tall. It’s the sport of kings. And builders, and blokes next door. Liverpool the backdrop, Aintree the host, an iconic city where the eyes of the world watch. This isn’t just the world’s greatest steeplechase. This is the Randox Grand National. Welcome to Grand National Day.
From Toronto to Tokyo, this is the one the world stops to watch. This is anyone's race, the people's race, more than just the greatest steeplechase. The eyes of the world watch horses create history. And riders become stars, heroes and legends. The Randox Grand National isn’t just any race, it’s the race.
Derek Fox needed a doctor’s go ahead to make the ride. But it was just what the doctor ordered as he crossed the finishing line with Corach Rambler to win the 2023 Grand National.
Cheers reverberated around Aintree as horse and jockey made their way to the winner’s circle. A second Grand National win for Fox and trainer Lucinda Russell, six years on from their first win with One For Arthur, they join an elite club of double Grand National champions.
Mister Coffey did much of the running but faded badly over the final few jumps with Corach Rambler steaming in at the end. The defending champion Noble Yeats also earned a place, but the extra weight meant it would always be difficult to repeat the feat.
Corach Rambler, who was supported into market leader at 8-1 just before the off, was happy to travel in the pack for the majority of the race, but was travelling supremely before he made his dash for history and glory. Fox then jumped into the lead over the last and pulled away, but faced fierce resistance from Vanillier, but was ultimately held off to finish by about three lengths.
The winning jockey said this: “I can’t believe it. It’s all thanks to the horse, Corach Rambler. He jumped and travelled all the way. I was no more than a sitting passenger all the way. He is the most wonderful horse and I was very lucky to get the ride on him. He has been the most wonderful horse and he deserved to win this. I got a fall last week and banged my shoulder which was far from ideal. I was worried all week as I thought this horse could do it today and I’m just thankful that I made it back in time as it was the thrill of my life to have ridden him."
WELCOME BACK WEST BALBOA
A three month absence from the track for West Balboa since winning the Coral Lanzarote Handicap Hurdle in Kempton Park didn’t stop her from finding fine form today. The 9/2 favourite was back in the winner’s enclosure on her first start since January after she ran out a wide margin winner of the Village Hotels Handicap Hurdle.
Stepping up to three miles for the first time under Rules, West Balboa travelled well throughout and although there were a number of runners in contention approaching the second last, she quickened right away from her field after jumping the final flight and the result was never in doubt.
Pounding Poet came from off the pace to finish second at 50/1 with the evergreen Mill Green third at 14/1. While Cheltenham Festival winner Good Time Jonny appeared outpaced on this sharper track but rallied to claim fourth from another Irish challenger in Gatsby Grey.
DAVY RUSSELL DOES THE DOUBLE
What a return for Davy Russell. He retired in January, and after answering the call from Gordan Elliott, returned as cover for the injured Jack Kennedy and he's set to take his final Grand National ride aboard Galvin.
But he already has two wins at Aintree this year. He made it two Grade One successes after steering Irish Point to a decisive victory in the Turner’s Mersey Novices Hurdle. Dark Raven was among the leading fancies for the two-and-a-half mile contest but took a tumbling fall five from home, hampering Springwell Bay, while Cool Survivor suffered a similar fate at the second last when firmly in contention.
Just in behind the leaders over the penultimate hurdle, the grey appeared to be travelling well and took the lead over the last and pulled clear up the home straight to win comfortably from Kateira, who fell three-and-a-half lengths behind.
Asked if this would be his final day in the saddle, Russell said: "I don't want to say it's my last day riding and then come back for a third time, but I'm enjoying today and taking it all in. I have to ride like I'm a 21-year-old again as these young lads are not easily beaten and they are all very professional. You have to prepare the way they prepare otherwise you get left behind."
SECOND FESTIVAL WIN FOR SIRE DU BERLAIS
Sire Du Berlais wrote another chapter in his remarkable story by winning the Grade One JRL Group Liverpool Hurdle. The Gordon Elliott trained 11-year-old was returned at 33/1 after hitting top form in the Stayers’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival last month and was allowed to be sent off at 8/1 in the three mile heat despite winning the race last season.
Those odds looked on the skinny side on the straight - he was matched at 200/1 on the Betfair Exchange in-running - with the long-term leader and 3/1 favourite Flooring Porter and the easy travelling Marie's Rock appearing to have the race between them but the veteran had drawn alongside the pair by the last. Marie's Rock stuck to her guns but was no match for the veteran who kept on strongly to win by three-and-a-quarter lengths under Mark Walsh.
Winning trainer Gordon Elliott said this about Sire Du Berlais after the race: “He’s unbelievable. At his age, to come back and do this again, we’re absolutely delighted. We didn’t do much with him between Cheltenham and here - the girls went to the beach with him a couple of times, he hasn’t really galloped much, we’ve just kept him happy and sweet."