|1. Comply Or Die||7-1JF||Timmy Murphy||D E Pipe|
|2. King Johns Castle||20-1||P Carberry||A L T Moore|
|3. Snowy Morning||11-1||D J Casey||W P Mullins|
|4. Slim Pickings||10-1||B J Geraghty||T J Taaffe|
|5. Bewleys Berry||12-1||Denis O’Regan||J Howard Johnson|
|6. Cloudy Lane||7-1JF||Jason Maguire||D McCain Jnr|
|7. Nadover||125-1||R M Power||C J Mann|
|8. Baily Breeze||66-1||P W Flood||M F Morris|
|9. Chelsea Harbour||14-1||D N Russell||Thomas Mullins|
|10. Mon Mome||28-1||A Coleman||Miss Venetia Williams|
|11. Hi Cloy||100-1||T J Doyle||Michael Hourigan|
|12. Cornish Sett||80-1||Nick Scholfield||P F Nicholls|
|13. Hedgehunter||10-1||R Walsh||W P Mullins|
|14. Idle Talk||66-1||Brian Harding||D McCain Jnr|
|15. Milan Deux Mille||125-1||Tom Malone||D E Pipe|
The Grand National has never been short of fairytale endings and this year’s renewal was no exception as Comply Or Die held off a strong challenge from King Johns Castle to take victory by four lengths.
Not only was Comply Or Die providing a first success in the race for both David Pipe, son of legendary trainer Martin, and David Johnson, one of the sport’s biggest supporters, the horse was ridden by the hugely popular Irish jockey, Timmy Murphy, who has battled back from the brink of self destruction in recent years by conquering alcoholism and putting a short spell in prison behind him.
Seldom can a horse’s name have been more suitable as it perfectly sums up the stark choices Murphy faced during his long period of rehabilitation and it was unsurprisingly, therefore, that there were jubilant scenes in Aintree’s new winner’s enclosure after the race.
Even punters who had not been lucky enough to back the winner were in almost unanimous agreement that this was a thoroughly deserved success for connections and a heartwarming victory for all those connected with the sport.
As ever, Murphy gave the winner a peach of a ride. Up there nearly all the way towards the wide outside, and jumping really well, Comply Or Die enjoyed an almost flawless passage through the race and when push cam to shove on the run-in the reserves of stamina he showed when winning the Eider Chase on his previous start proved decisive.
Comply Or Die’s success was a tough one for trends followers, however, as he was the first blinkered winner since Earth Summit ten years ago and only the second since L’Escargot in 1975.
Victory for the runner-up would have been just as much of a stat buster as King Johns Castle had never won over three miles under rules. As such, his stamina was unproven going into the race and it wasn’t surprising, therefore, to see JP McManus’ grey being ridden throughout with typical patience by Paul Carberry.
It would be hard to say King Johns Castle didn’t stay, as his effort certainly didn’t peter out, but he simply didn’t stay as well as the winner, who galloped on too strongly for him after they passed the Elbow.
For such a young and relatively inexperienced raider, Snowy Morning ran an excellent race in fourth. But for a mistake at the last, he would have been much closer to the winner and may possible have claimed the runner-up spot. He is likely to be aimed at the race again next year and he is entitled to improve again with another summer on his back.
Last year’s third, Slim Pickings, was fourth this time around, completing a 2-3-4 for Irish trained runners, who have such a great recent record in this race. As was the case last year, he travelled strongly throughout the race, but history seemed to repeat itself as his challenge faded on the punishing run to the line.
The same comments apply to another Aintree specialist, Bewleys Berry. He appeared an unlucky loser when falling in the race last year, but this performance proved that he wasn’t and that he doesn’t quite stay this trip. It is hard to see either him or Slim Pickings ever improving on their efforts here.
The gamble of the race in the build up to this year’s renewal was undoubtedly Cloudy Lane and given his favourable handicap mark it is hard not to say that he was disappointing here, even though he jumped around safely to claim sixth. He was never in the race, however, and was over 30 lengths adrift of the winner at the death. Given the rise in the weights he now faces, it is hard to see him coming back and improving on this effort. He may just lack the physical scope for a test of this nature.
Nadover was seventh, and ran really well for a seven year old, whilst Chelsea Harbour could also come back next year and improve on this effort if ridden with more restraint. He may prefer a bit more cut in the ground as well.
Of the other finishers, Hedgehunter simply wasn’t good enough to be competitive at this level any more and an honourable retirement surely beckons. He has been a fantastic servant to his connections and owes nobody anything.
Unusually, there were very few hard luck stories amongst the casualties. If there was one, though, it was surely Butler’s Cabin, the mount of the luckless Tony McCoy who seems destined never to win this great race.
The horse was disputing the lead and still tanking along when he fell at Becher’s for the second time, where the same connections’ Clan Royal was carried out in similar circumstances three years ago. He’ll surely be back for another crack next year.
The well fancied Simon fell at the same fence this year as he did last (Valentine’s on the second circuit), when bang in contention again. His jockey reported that he probably wasn’t traveling well enough at the time to have gone on to win the race, but he has been known to hit flat spots in his race and so the game may not have quite been up at the time.
Last year’s fourth Philson Run went much earlier, getting no further than the first Canal Turn, whilst Point Barrow and Dun Doire were both soon out of contention and eventually pulled up.
Neither Backbeat nor Vodka Bleu appeared to fancy the big fences, the latter being pulled up before stamina became an issue.
By contrast, Turko really seemed to enjoy himself and ran well for a long time under a big weight. At six year’s old, he has plenty of time to improve on this effort and is developing into a top class chaser.