- Grand National
Encore causes huge Grand National shock
Auroras Encore caused a huge shock when repelling the challenge of Cappa Bleu and Teaforthree in the Grand National.
Ryan Mania got a dream run all the way round on Sue Smith's charge, took up the running a the last and powered away from the staying on Cappa Bleu to score at 66/1 - with Teaforthree, Oscar Time and Rare Bob filling the places.
Officials took the decision to move the start of the race away from the stands to keep the horses calm and it appeared to work as there was a clean getaway from the tape. The fences have been remodelled and it was not until the Canal Turn on the first circuit that horses - Treacle, The Rainbow Hunter and Big Fella Thanks - exited.
Across The Bay took the field along for much of the way and it was a clean race for most of the runners.
Champion jockey AP McCoy got no further than the chair aboard Colbert Station, while Ruby Walsh's mount On His Own capsized down the back straight. He had jumped well for a long way, but was baulked at one of the fences on the second circuit and appeared to lose confidence.
Katie Walsh's mount Seabass was backed into favouritism to provide a first female jockey winner of the race. As 12 months ago, the horse gave Walsh a dream ride but was found wanting turning for home.
At the business end, it looked like Teaforthree would provide Wales with a winner of the National when taking up the running between the final two fences. But having secured a three-length lead, his stride began to shorten heading to the last and he was passed in the air by Auroras Encore.
Mania sensed his chance and pushed his horse into a clear lead on the long run for home. He began to wander off a true line approaching the elbow, but he had a big lead and had enough in reserve to keep Cappa Bleu at bay.
"There's no words to describe it," Mania said. "I got a dream ride all the way - I couldn't believe my luck. I couldn't fault the old horse. He was second in the Scottish National last year and I thought I should stay loyal to him and thank God I did. I never really had an anxious moment, he made a couple of mistakes, that's all."
Smith, who follows Jenny Pitman and Venetia Williams to be the third woman traner of a National winner, said "It's unbelievable, he gave him such a good ride. I knew the ground was right for him and hoped everything else was. He stayed down the middle and had a bit of luck in running. He didn't have a lot of weight and that helped, too.
"He's such a grand little horse, you can ride him anyway you like. I just feel sorry for the previous owners, who were wonderful and sold him because of ill health."
It was a clean start and to the delight of all concerned with the sport, a clean finish as all the 40 runners came back unscathed.