Brave runner-up Balko delights Coleman in National

Aidan Coleman was full of praise for runner-up Balko Des Flos – who massively outran his 100-1 odds at Aintree to give his stablemate Minella Times most to do in the Randox Grand National.

The 2018 Ryanair winner had been in the doldrums for a couple of seasons but showed signs the fire still burned bright before unseating Rachael Blackmore in the Cross Country at Cheltenham last month.

Coleman said: “I couldn’t be happier with him. He was super. He jumped brilliantly and travelled into it really well. He did everything right but just didn’t win. All credit to him.”

If there was an unlucky horse in the race it was Ted Walsh’s Any Second Now – who performed a minor miracle to get into third, having been brought almost to a standstill by a faller.

Jockey Mark Walsh said: “He was very unlucky, he very nearly got brought down at the third last and he’s done great to finish third.”

Patrick Mullins enjoyed a great ride on fourth-placed Burrows Saint, whose stamina appeared to give way after the last.

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“I had a fantastic spin, and he did everything right,” said Mullins.

“We got a lovely position, and he jumped fantastic.

“I was chatting to Rachael (Blackmore) going past the stands with a circuit to go, and we were both very happy with where we were.

“We were side by side all of the way, and I was trying to get on to her boot and get a lead off her – but from the second-last, I just couldn’t go with her. He got very tired and maybe he didn’t stay, but it was nearly the perfect ride.”

Burrows Saint (left) raced alongside winner Minella Times for much of the race but eventually finished fourth
Burrows Saint (left) raced alongside winner Minella Times for much of the race but eventually finished fourth (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

Farclas, who finished fifth, did best of Irish trainer Denise Foster’s four runners.

Her representative Lisa O’Neill said: : “Farclas jumped and travelled really well, and (jockey) Jack (Kennedy) seemed happy with him. You need a lot of luck in a race like this, so he ran a solid race.”

The yard’s other three runners were Shattered Love (10th), Alpha Des Obeaux (11th) and Milan Native – who pulled up.

O’Neill said: “It was a bit of an unknown for Shattered Love, and we didn’t know what would happen with her, but she is a class filly. She ran OK.

“Alpha Des Obeaux ran his race but was not good enough.

“(Jockey) Jamie (Codd) said Milan Native was unsure about the fences and frightened himself a small bit.”

Cloth Cap, the 11-2 favourite, was pulled up three fences from the finish when losing touch after being in contention for most of the race.

Favourite Cloth Cap was eventually pulled up in the Randox Grand National
Favourite Cloth Cap was eventually pulled up in the Randox Grand National (David Davies/Jockey Club)

Trainer Jonjo O’Neill will have the nine-year-old’s wind checked out.

“(Jockey) Tom (Scudamore) said he was going away grand and he just started gurgling a little bit – and he did the right thing and pulled him up,” said the Jackdaws Castle handler.

“He was having a great run, and everything was going grand … then he stopped.

“We will get him checked out, but we will look at his wind. Tom just said he got slower and slower, but he did the right thing.”

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