|1. Amberleigh House||16-1||Graham Lee||D McCain|
|2. Clan Royal||10-1JF||L Cooper||Jonjo O’Neill|
|3. Lord Atterbury||40-1||Mark Bradburne||M C Pipe|
|4. Monty’s Pass||20-1||Barry Geraghty||James Joseph Mangan|
|5. Spot Thedifference||50-1||Richie McGrath||E Bolger|
|6. Smarty||100-1||Andrew Tinkler||M Pitman|
|7. Ardent Scout||50-1||Warren Marston||Sue Smith|
|8. Bear On Board||14-1||Robert Thornton||Alan King|
|9. Kingsmark||66-1||Mick Fitzgerald||Martin Todhunter|
|10. The Bunny Boiler||33-1||R Geraghty||Noel Meade|
|11. Davids Lad||12-1||Timmy Murphy||A J Martin|
An amazing twenty seven years after the last of Red Rum’s three triumphs in the race, Ginger McCain was finally back in the hallowed winner’s enclose at Aintree to greet the Grand National hero. This time, that hero was AMBERLEIGH HOUSE who improved on his third last season to land the spoils on his third start in the race. He has also been runner-up twice in the Becher Chase and is fast becoming as reliable a carriage over these obstacles as the great Rummy once was.
This was also a triumph for jockeyship as the winner was hampered badly early on, and again at Bechers on the first circuit, with the result that, from an early stage, he was much further back than his connections would have liked. However, Graham Lee was patience personified and he gradually crept back into the contest. Although he still had plenty to do going to four out, he stayed on strongly from that point before eventually taking it up with 100 yards left to run.
The horse that beat Amberleigh House in this season’s Becher Chase, Clan Royal, was second here. Crucially, his rider, Liam Cooper, lost his whip when the horse made a bad mistake at the 26th fence and so he had nothing with which to correct his mount when he veered left on the punishing run in. That bit of bad luck may have cost him the race, and he was doubly unlucky as the 26th and the last fence were the only two obstacles he made mistakes at. His jumping was otherwise exemplary and he deserves to win this great race based on his marvellous record over this unique course.
Lord Atterbury was third. He was prominent throughout, but a series of minor errors may have taken their toll on the run to the line. He did, though, put a shocking effort at Cheltenham last time out well and truly behind him here.
Last year’s winner, Monty’s Pass, was fourth (albeit some way behind the principles) to further emphasis what a good race this year’s renewal was for course specialists. He won the race of those carrying 11st or more, but a 14lb rise in the weights since last year’s success proved too much.
Spotthedifference ran well behind Monty’s Pass last year before unseating his rider four out and he confirmed that good impression with another fine effort here, whilst the 2001 runner up, Smarty, defied odds of 100-1 to again finish in the money.
There was a gap back to Ardent Scout who was one of five other finishers. Last of those, in eleventh, was the well fancied Davids Lad, who was always out the back and never got close to the leaders.
Of those that failed to finished, it was hard not to have most sympathy for Hedgehunter who had put up a bold show for much of the race before crashing out at the final fence. It was a tired fall, but he would have finished third had he stayed on his feet.
Nine horses came to grief at Bechers first time around, including the first and second in the race in 2002, Bindaree and What’s Up Boys.
Top weight, Le Coudray, was the noticeable faller at the same fence on the second circuit as he still looked to have something to give at the time.
The well fancied Jurancon II took a heavy fall at the fourth, whilst one of the other co favourites, Joss Naylor, didn’t seem to enjoy the experience and was tailed off in last when pulled up before the 19th.
If there was a hard luck story it may have been Puntal, who was winging his fences out in front before unseating his ride early on the second circuit.