Robin Oakley

National review

The winners upset the odds —  and while the race was casualty-free for the fourth year running it lost nothing of its spectacle

With great victories in Flat racing you witness hats-in-the-air exultation. You see the pride of trainers who nurtured the winner to full potential or of jockeys who timed their challenge perfectly. Sometimes you even spot the quieter satisfaction of the owners and breeders who framed the mating that brought it all about. But much of the joy springs not from the victory itself but from the oodles of cash the winner is now worth at stud. In jump racing that financial bonus is lacking and yet the raw emotion often seems ten times as intense, as we saw after Rule the World won this year’s Grand National.

The winning trainer, Mouse Morris, was literally speechless. The winning owner, the normally irrepressible Michael O’Leary, choked on TV as he tried to tell his sons how much it meant. The winning jockey was damp-eyed and his brother was in tears. True, there was a special factor. Although no worldly success can compensate for the death of a 30-year-old, racing folk have wanted good things to happen to Mouse Morris since he lost his son Tiffer in a carbon-monoxide poisoning accident and this was his second National in a fortnight, having just won the Irish version with Rogue Angel. Maybe now, feeling there is someone up there helping him, the trainer will give up his 60 cigarettes a day. The man who makes Boris Johnson look like a brilliantined matinee idol might even have a haircut.

There were hard-luck stories. Overnight soaking of the course probably wrecked the chances of last year’s first two — Many Clouds and Saint Are — who both ran prominently first time round. Many Clouds was anchored by his top weight and was last of 16 finishers (five of the first six home being Irish-trained).

Already a subscriber? Log in

Keep reading with a free trial

Subscribe and get your first month of online and app access for free. After that it’s just £1 a week.

There’s no commitment, you can cancel any time.


Unlock more articles



Don't miss out

Join the conversation with other Spectator readers. Subscribe to leave a comment.

Already a subscriber? Log in