Corach Rambler was a superb winner of the Randox Grand National for trainer Lucinda Russell and jockey Derek Fox.
Successful at last month’s Cheltenham Festival, the nine-year-old was kept out of trouble throughout after starting as the 8-1 favourite, in a race that was delayed by around 15 minutes after protesters from Animal Rising got on to the track.
He jumped into the lead over the last and pulled away when passing the elbow, holding off a closing Vanillier with Gaillard Du Mesnil third and last year’s winner Noble Yeats running a gallant race under his big weight in fourth.
It was a second victory in the world’s greatest steeplechase for Russell and Fox, after One For Arthur in 2017.
Russell said: “Those guys that went out to protest on the course, they think it’s about horse welfare but that horse loves the sport. He loves everything that he does. He’s kept in the best condition and I’m just so delighted that he can run in a race like that and perform like that.
“He has got greatness and it’s what he deserves. Corach Rambler, in our hearts, is just the best horse. Now in the public hearts he is as well. To win the National, I know how important it is, I know how it changed my life with (One For) Arthur – for Corach to achieve that too is just fantastic.
“It’s all about the horse, for me it’s not about the betting – though I did back him and quite a lot actually!
“I hope those guys who were protesting will look at our website and our Facebook posts and see how they are looked after. It is so important they understand how we care for them every inch of the way.
“It is about Corach, he is just amazing. He took to those fences brilliantly, he understood them, he worked them out – he loved it.”
Fox had sat out the first two days of the meeting in order to recover from injury in time to ride Corach Rambler.
He said: “He is just the most wonderful thing ever, he deserved to win this. I got a fall last week and banged my shoulder, it was far from ideal. I was worried all week, I thank God I was back in time because it was the thrill of my life to ride him.
“It’s thanks to the support of Lucinda and Scu (Peter Scudamore, assistant trainer and Russell’s partner) for having the faith in me to put me up after not riding all week. I feel very lucky to be working for these great people.
“I think he’d the profile and he’s loads of class – I just can’t believe it.”
Cameron Sword, a 21-year-old student who forms part of the winning ownership syndicate, The Ramblers, said: “Derek rode a blinder!
“He was leading, he was at the front for most of that race, and we were thinking he should be a bit further back, but Derek Fox rode a blinder. And Corach Rambler – what a horse. I’m lost for words.
“How can people be protesting against horse racing when your protests are making these horses wait out in the sun for even longer? It makes no sense. They can do one – this is our sport and I love it.
“I’ll be out in Liverpool tonight!”
Out of 39 runners, 17 horses finished the race with the Sandy Thomson-trained Hill Sixteen suffering a fatal fall at the first fence.
Dickon White, who runs Aintree as North-West Regional Director for Jockey Club Racecourses, said: “Hill Sixteen was immediately attended by expert veterinary professionals during the Grand National, but sadly sustained a fatal injury. Our heartfelt condolences are with his connections.”
Recite a Prayer and Cape Gentleman were also assessed on course by veterinary teams, with both horses reported to have walked onto the horse ambulance for further examination in the stables.