The partnership of trainer Lucinda Russell and jockey Derek Fox experienced Randox Grand National ecstasy for the second time as Corach Rambler won the world’s most famous horse race at Aintree on Saturday.
Six years after One For Arthur took the prize back to Russell’s Arlary stable, it was the turn of Corach Rambler, owned by The Ramblers, to do Scotland proud in the stamina-sapping 4m2½f contest.
Fox, who had only just returned from injury to ride in the National, soon had Corach Rambler – 10lb ‘well in’ after his victory in the Ultima Handicap Chase at the Cheltenham Festival – in a more prominent position than usual for this confirmed hold-up performer, as Mister Coffey and Lifetime Ambition set the pace.
While Lifetime Ambition was wiped out by a loose horse at the ninth fence, Mister Coffey and Nico de Boinville, bidding to give trainer Nicky Henderson his first National success, were still in front two fences from home.
Yet Corach Rambler and Fox were travelling ever so sweetly behind the leaders and as Mister Coffey cried enough approaching the final fence, Fox asked Corach Rambler to put his seal on matters. The nine-year-old set sail for home, establishing a clear lead over his rivals, and while Vanillier emerged as a threat inside the distance, Corach Rambler wasn’t for catching, taking the prize by two and three-quarter lengths.
Fox said immediately afterwards: “I can’t believe it to be honest. He’s a phenomenal horse. Today he just jumped out and travelled everywhere. I let him bowl along and he was electric at the jumps – he’s the cleverest horse and so intelligent.
“The only concern was if he was in front for a long time, but he won so easy, all I had to do was the steering. He’s a marvellous horse.”
There was a slight delay to the running of this year’s National after a number of protesters got on to the track. The incident was swiftly dealt with by the police and course officials.
Earlier in the afternoon, the Nicky Henderson-trained Jonbon recorded a facile success in the Grade 1 Maghull Novices’ Chase under Aidan Coleman.
With Banbridge and Notlongtillmay taken out of the two-mile contest, JP McManus’s charge looked to face a simple task against three rivals and that’s exactly how it proved, as Jonbon powered home 43 lengths clear of Marvel De Cerisy.
The McManus silks were back in the winner’s enclosure later in the day as enigmatic 11-year-old Sire Du Berlais followed up his Stayers’ Hurdle strike with victory in the Grade 1 Liverpool Hurdle.
Having captured the three-mile feature last year, a follow-up looked unlikely with jockey Mark Walsh seemingly fighting a losing battle yet Sire Du Berlais’ reserves of stamina kicked in late on and he outstayed Marie’s Rock to score by three and a quarter lengths for the Gordon Elliott stable.
Davy Russell will forever be associated with Grand National day thanks to the exploits of dual National hero Tiger Roll and the veteran rider recorded a Grade 1 triumph aboard Irish Point in the Mersey Novices’ Hurdle.
Russell had already partnered a top-level winner at this Aintree meeting for trainer Gordon Elliott and owner Robcour on Gerri Colombe in the Mildmay Novices’ Chase and the same connections were celebrating after Irish Point saw off the mare Kateira by three and a half lengths. The jockey later announced his immediate retirement from riding aged 43.