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Bookies pay out with a smile on ‘priceless’ Blackmore triumph

There were no gripes from bookmakers as they paid out on the historic success of Rachael Blackmore in the Randox Grand National.

Some layers were hit harder than others, but their consensus at Aintree was that the victory of Minella Times in the world’s greatest steeplechase was simply a tremendous result for the sport.

Blackmore was the toast of Cheltenham for punters last month, as top jockey at the Festival, and she scaled new heights with her breakthrough triumph in a race watched by millions all around the globe.

Coral spokesman David Stevens said: “Minella Times was backed for the National after Rachael Blackmore was crowned top jockey at last month’s Cheltenham Festival, with his odds halving from 20-1 to 10-1, and on the biggest betting day of the year Rachael’s mount was extremely well-backed by plenty of her fans across the country.

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“In making Aintree history, she’s also sparked the biggest ever pay-out on a female rider, but we’ll be paying out with a smile because her achievement is incredible, and worth its weight in gold to the sport of horse racing.”

Ladbrokes spokesman Jon Lees said: “Congratulations to Rachael Blackmore, who realised every young girl’s dream by winning the Grand National – which until today had only been fulfilled by Elizabeth Taylor in the fictional film National Velvet.

“Her deserved success will ensure the 2021 Grand National will be remembered for years – and although she has cost Ladbrokes plenty, the attention her win will bring to the sport will be priceless.”

It had been bad enough for the layers before the National, with the first five favourites on the card being successful.

Betway PR Manager Chad Yeomans said: “After five winning favourites and Rachael Blackmore creating history in the Grand National, it’s safe to say that it’s been a bad day for us.

“Minella Times was a bad result in the book. But overall, it was a great result for racing. After a good first two days at Aintree, it’s definitely been one for the punters today.”

History was made at Aintree, with one of the great sporting moments
History was made at Aintree, with one of the great sporting moments (David Davies/PA)

For William Hill, the damage could have been much worse.

“We have dodged a bullet, because we expected Rachael Blackmore to be the worst result in the race,” said spokesman Rupert Adams.

“Fortunately for us she was not – but don’t get me wrong, we will be handing over a serious amount of cash to punters.”

Paddy Power spokesman Paul Binfield said: “Rachael was poetry in motion in making history by becoming the first female to win the world’s most famous steeplechase, but the anticipated huge gamble and pay-out that we had really feared didn’t materialise.

“The race ended in a score-draw between punters and bookies – despite us paying six places, with best odds guaranteed, which added £1million to our pay-out.”

Bookmakers on top after day two of Aintree – but National will be pivotal

Bookmakers came out marginally on top as the second day of the Grand National meeting produced a mix of favourites and long-shot winners.

In scenes reminiscent of Cheltenham, the Irish were dominant from the off with a 22-1 victory in the Pertemps Network Handicap Hurdle courtesy of Denise Foster’s Tronador, who prevailed by two and a half lengths under Jack Kennedy and left 6-1 favourite Mister Coffey back in fourth.

Belfast Banter then backed up his County Hurdle effort with a triumphant run in the Betway Top Novices’ Hurdle at 9-1, whereas joint-favourites Dusart and Third Time Lucki came home in third and fourth respectively.

Chantry House, ridden by Nico de Boinville, clears a fence on his way to winning the Betway Mildmay Novices’ Chase
Chantry House, ridden by Nico de Boinville, clears a fence on his way to winning the Betway Mildmay Novices’ Chase (David Davies/PA)

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The next two races went the way of favourites as Chantry House also recorded a Cheltenham-Aintree double when claiming Betway Mildmay Novices’ Chase at 11-8 for Nico de Boinville and Nicky Henderson.

It was then the turn of Fakir D’oudairies, who was emphatic in winning the Marsh Chase for Mark Walsh and Joseph O’Brien, by 11 lengths at a price of 2-1.

Livelaughlove was another Irish winner when taking the Randox Topham Handicap Chase for Patrick and Willie Mullins at 15-2, with the 7-1 favourite Caribean Boy pulled up two fences from home.

The closing two contests saw the market leaders beaten, with the Doom Bar Sefton Novices’ Hurdle claimed by 66-1 chance Ahoy Senor, while the highly-fancied 13-8 shot Bravemansgame was seven lengths behind.

The Pinsent Masons Handicap Hurdle was a similar story as the 9-2 joint-favourite Camprond finished second behind Rowland Ward, who prevailed at 12-1 for Charlie Hammond and Stuart Edmunds.

Ahoy Senor floored backers at 66-1
Ahoy Senor floored backers at 66-1 (David Davies/Jockey Club)

Paddy Power spokesman Paul Binfield said: “It was an up and down day and a score draw between bookies and punters, with the former assisted by the last result and slightly ahead going into National day.

“But, as ever, the final outcome of the meeting will all come down to the Grand National itself.”

Coral’s David Stevens painted a similar picture, saying: “The second day of the meeting started well for us, with Tronador and Belfast Banter both beating better-fancied rivals in the opening two races, but then punters fought back with victories for well-backed favourites Chantry House and Fakir D’oudairies.

“However, although Livelovelaugh was not without his backers in the Topham, that was as good as it got for punters, with Ahoy Senor and Rowland Ward ensuring we ended the day in front, although punters will very much get their revenge if Rachael Blackmore makes history in the National.”