Tabitha Worsley is filled with pride after her family’s beloved Sub Lieutenant carried her to 15th place in the Grand National.
Worsley’s mount was backed from 100-1 to 50-1 for the big race after the public were moved by the endearing underdog story of the 12-year-old and his small-scale trainer Georgie Howell, who is Worsley’s mother and has a stable of only six horses.
Saturday’s performance was a first Grand National experience for both horse and jockey, and together they were one of just three English combinations to pass the winning post.
“We couldn’t be happier,” Worsley said on Sunday.
“We always said we’d be happy if we go there and get round and finish in the top half, we’ve done exactly that.
“He’s just a hero, the horse, we couldn’t be prouder of him.
“Three English finishers and we were one of them, we just couldn’t be happier, and he’s all good this morning which is the main thing.”
Worsley was near the rear of the field throughout the race and felt her veteran mount lacked the pace to really challenge the front-runners, but navigating the National course at any speed is no mean feat and the family were thrilled by his efforts.
“He’s just done us all proud,” she said.
“I knew going out on the last circuit that I had no chance of winning the race, he was run off his feet and he just doesn’t have the speed he had as a younger horse.
“He’s finished tired, but he’s finished happy, he’s not exhausted.
“He was just unbelievable, I couldn’t have asked for a nicer horse to have a spin round on.”
The jockey had received some pre-race words of encouragement from Sub Lieutenant’s previous rider Rachael Blackmore, who went on to make history aboard Minella Times when she became the first woman to ever ride the winner of the National.
Blackmore’s victory breaks new ground for female riders and her skill in the saddle has Worsley’s full admiration.
“She is just unbelievable, she’s something special,” she said of her weighing-room colleague.
“I spoke to her afterwards to say ‘well done, what an amazing achievement’ and the first thing she did was ask how I got on – that’s the measure of her.
“She just is amazing, everything about her, she’s the ultimate professional and you wouldn’t meet a nicer jockey.”