|1. Mon Mome||100-1||Liam Treadwell||Miss Venetia Williams|
|2. Comply Or Die||14-1||Timmy Murphy||D E Pipe|
|3. My Will||8-1||R Walsh||P F Nicholls|
|4. State Of Play||14-1||Paul Moloney||Evan Williams|
|5. Cerium||100-1||Keith Mercer||Paul Murphy|
|6. Big Fella Thanks||14-1||Christian Williams||P F Nicholls|
|7. Butler’s Cabin||7-1F||A P McCoy||Jonjo O’Neill|
|8. Southern Vic||33-1||N P Madden||T M Walsh|
|9. Snowy Morning||33-1||Andrew J McNamara||W P Mullins|
|10. Arteea||200-1||J W Farrelly||D E Pipe|
|11. Irish Invader||16-1||P Townend||W P Mullins|
|12. Idle Talk||66-1||Brian Harding||D McCain Jnr|
|13. Darkness||16-1||Wayne Hutchinson||C R Egerton|
|14. Preists Leap||100-1||P T Enright||Thomas Gerard O’Leary|
|15. Offshore Account||20-1||D J Casey||C F Swan|
|16. Battlecry||33-1||Tom Scudamore||N A Twiston-Davies|
|17. Cornish Sett||33-1||Nick Scholfield||P F Nicholls|
In recent years modifications to the fences and lenient handicapping of high-class horses has resulted in the Grand National attracting a better standard of runner. However, no horse has won with an official rating of more than 144 in the last ten years and that was Hedgehunter in 2005 (carrying 11st 1lb), although he finished runner-up off 156 the following year having been second in the Gold Cup on his previous start.
However, on this occasion numerous statistics were blown out of the window as MON MOME sprinted clear up the run-in to score easily. He became the first horse to win at 100-1 since Foinavon in 1967. Venetia Williams became only the second woman to train the winner, Jenny Pitman having been the first 26 years ago, and Mon Mome’s official rating of 148 was the highest of any winner this century.
Mon Mome had finished tenth last year when he was hampered at Becher’s second time, but his form earlier this season had meant that he was 7lb higher. He had seemed best suited by soft ground so the overnight rain might just have helped him.
Hunted around on the inside, he crept steadily into contention on the second circuit and was on the leaders’ heels at the third last. He jumped the last upsides when there were still plenty in with a chance, and then came right away as Liam Treadwell, having his first ride in the race, asked him for more.
Last year’s winner Comply Or Die ran a terrific race in a bid to become the first dual winner since Red Rum. He was 15lb higher than last year and had struggled for form since, but the return here brought about a revival and, after taking his time around the outside, he moved up looking as if he might well achieve the near impossible. He held a slight advantage over the final fence but could not respond when the winner quickened. He lost nothing in defeat and is young enough to be back again next season.
My Will had finished fifth in Gold Cup in preparation for this and was only 2lb above his last winning mark. He stays well but had made jumping errors in 14 of his previous 27 starts over fences and did so again, when his error at the Canal Turn was one of several mistakes. However, he too emerged onto the racecourse proper to lead at the second last, before his effort flattened out going to the final fence.
State Of Play, the 2006 Hennessy winner and the Charlie Hall Chase winner earlier this season, was 2lb lower and had not run since Boxing Day. He was always in the front third of the field but did not help his chance by pecking at one of the fences running down to Becher’s second time. He got into the race crossing the Melling Road and was upsides the leader two out before tiring on the run-in.
The real surprise of the race was the performance of the two Fergus Wilson-owned runners, especially Cerium, who was a Grade 2 winner back in 2006 when with Paul Nicholls but had deteriorated since and had not won beyond 2m3f. He had put up a fair effort for a long way after 11 months off in Gold Cup the previous month but was a rank outsider and for the first circuit he ran like one, being out the back. However, he began to make headway on the run down from Valentine’s second time and stayed on well under pressure to reach his final position.
One of the novices Big Fella Thanks has improved this year, having won the Sky Bet Chase and finished third in Racing Post Chase. He made several mistakes but kept going and did well to finish as close as he did. He looks the one to take out of this with next season in mind, as this was only his seventh run over fences.
Butler’s Cabin was up with the leaders when falling at Becher’s the second time around last year and was racing off the same mark. He was sent off favourite in a bid to give Tony McCoy an overdue winner and although he handled that notorious fence well enough this time, he made mistakes at several others, and an error at the fourth-last effectively ended his chance, although he was keeping on at the finish. Like the runner-up he collapsed after the line but soon recovered.
Southern Vic was settled at the back early but was virtually upsides the winner running back from Valentine’s second time. However, he came under pressure after the third last and could only stay on at one pace. He would have preferred more cut in the ground and might get that next year.
Last year’s third Snowy Morning was 11lb higher this time and had rather lost his way of late. He too ran a creditable race andfollowed a similar route to Mon Mome, if a fraction closer to the pace on the first circuit. He lost his pitch slightly early on the second circuit, but made his ground again after the third last and, although he stumbled going to two out, he jumped the final fence in fifth place before tiring on the long run-in.
Arteea whose wins had been gained at up to 2m4f, had finished well beaten on his first start for his current yard at Cheltenham and was soon detached in last here. However, he gradually crept closer on the second lap and emerged on the outside of the field going to the second last, looking certain to be involved in the finish. His effort petered out from that point but he must have given his young rider a thrilling ride.
Irish Invader, an Irish chaser in good form, had never won beyond 2m2f but ran really creditably, having been in the leading group for much of the way and, with his stamina doubts did well to finish, let alone as close as he did.
Idle Talk had unseated on second circuit in 2007 and finished 14th last year. He ran well for a long way again and did best of his owner’s three runners. Darkness, a Grade 1 Chase winner back in 2005, had been lightly raced since but showed a return to winning form last time. Trained by Charles Egerton, who did so well in this race with a similarly lightly campaigned type in Mely Moss, and fitted with first-time cheekpieces, he did not run badly but was behind from Becher’s second time before staying on again.
Preists Leap, a dual winner of Thyestes Chase is best suited by heavy ground and an undulating track and was 18lb higher than his last winning mark. However, he got into contention turning for home before his stamina ran out.
Offshore Account had run only six times previously over fences and not at all since April 2007, having been hurdling since. He put up a bold show for a long way, being right up with the leaders until left in front at Becher’s second time, but he tired on the run around to the second last.
Battlecry was behind for most of the second circuit while Cornish Sett made a number of mistakes, the worst being at Becher’s first time, and did well to complete. Cloudy Lane was hampered when Cornish Sett made a mistake in front of him at Becher’s first time and then stood too far off the Chair, giving himself no chance of staying upright.
Hear The Echo, winner of the Irish National in 2008 but 21lb higher here, ran a brave race but was very tired in the closing stages and sadly collapsed and died on the run-in. The 2007 winner Silver Birch came back from injury to win this then and was 10lb higher, although his only run since was in a hurdle last month. He really enjoyed himself for a circuit and a half, and was still in second place when departing at Becher’s second time. The other faller at that obstacle was
Parsons Legacy, who was held up off the pace and was still well back when coming down.
L’Ami, formerly a high-class chaser who has been revived recently by switching to Enda Bolger for cross-country racing, was having his third try in the race, having finished tenth in 2007 but then fell early last year. He ran reasonably but emptied quickly before two out and was pulled up.
Rambling Minster was well fancied for this on the strength of his success in the Blue Square Gold Cup. However, he was baulked on the first circuit and was in the rear when badly hampered by the fall of Can’t Buy Time at the 18th, being pulled up before the next.