|1. Don’t Push It||10-1JF||A P McCoy||Jonjo O’Neill|
|2. Black Apalachi||14-1||Denis O’Regan||D T Hughes|
|3. State Of Play||16-1||Paul Moloney||Evan Williams|
|4. Big Fella Thanks||10-1JF||Barry Geraghty||P F Nicholls|
|5. Hello Bud||20-1||Sam Twiston-Davies||N A Twiston-Davies|
|6. Snowy Morning||14-1||D J Casey||W P Mullins|
|7. Character Building||16-1||Miss N Carberry||J J Quinn|
|8. Cloudy Lane||25-1||Jason Maguire||D McCain Jnr|
|9. Tricky Trickster||16-1||Richard Johnson||P F Nicholls|
|10. Joe Lively||33-1||Joe Tizzard||C L Tizzard|
|11. Cerium||50-1||D N Russell||Paul Murphy|
|12. Comply Or Die||12-1||Timmy Murphy||D E Pipe|
|13. Piraya||100-1||Johnny Farrelly||D E Pipe|
|14. Preists Leap||100-1||P T Enright||Thomas Gerard O’Leary|
The Grand National rarely fails to provide a fairytale ending of one sort or another, but even by the standards of the divine powers that write the story lines for this great sporting event, this years renewal delivered a feel good factor scarcely matched and rivalling that experienced by those lucky enough to witness the emotion charged victories of Red Rum in 1977 and Aldaniti four years later.
But brave and heroic as Don’t Push It’s exploits were here, this victory was all about the man on board as at last Tony McCoy buried once and for all the demons that have haunted his efforts to win this race over the past fourteen years to claim the one prize so far missing from his extraordinary CV.
It was also one of those races where it didnt matter if you’d backed the winner or if your horse had fallen at the first (as the unfortunate Erics Charm did). Instead, this was the sort of triumph that everyone could revel in and there was scarcely a dry eye in the house when the JP McManus owned ten year old crossed the line in front. In fact, for once, even the usually stony faced McCoy looked close to tears as he returned to the unsaddling enclosure with cheers ringing out right across Aintree.
Rarely can there have been a more universally popular winner as not only is Don’t Push It’s jockey the greatest pilot we have ever seen, his owner is probably the biggest financial contributor to the sport, and his trainer is just about as honest and decent a man as you could wish to meet.
However, we shouldnt forget the horses exploits in all of this.
Don’t Push It has been a big race winner waiting to happen for some time now and the unique demands of this contest finally unlocked the unfulfilled potential that first came to light when he was unlucky enough to fall two in the 2008 Arkle when looking likely to triumph and when he gave the mighty Denman a run for his money in a novice chase earlier that season.
There was no fluke about this success either as he had the rest of the field well strung out at the finish and could be called the likely winner some way from home. Indeed, for once in this race, McCoy had pretty much a trouble free passage throughout.
The only slight moment of worry was when Don’t Push It made a minor error at the 26th, but he soon recovered his momentum and still hadnt been asked for everything when upsides Black Apalachi jumping the last. A fine leap there saw him take the lead and he briefly looked set to win in style, but one suspects hes a bit idle and his rider had to get serious with him to hold off the runner-ups persistent challenge.
Given the impressive nature of the victory it would be no surprise to see him come back here in 12 months time and put up a bold show in defence of his crown.
Black Apalachi will surely be back for more too and his connections would have to be hopeful of reversing the form if they get softer ground in 2011 as their horse was just tapped for toe when the winner made his move at the last. However, the runner up lost little in defeat as he had been in the firing line, and helping to force a decent gallop, for much of the race and, given that, he showed remarkable courage to keep battling all the way to the line.
Black Apalachi has shown his love for the course in the past and the same is true of the horse that finished third here, State Of Play.
Evan Williams charge was a respectful distance behind the front two, but improved one place on his fourth last season. He clearly goes best fresh as he’d had only one other start this campaign before todays race, but he never really looked like getting into a winning position having failed to latch on to a group of four runners who got a break on the field around six out. He’ll also no doubt be back again for more next year.
Big Fella Thanks was in that breakaway group, and in claiming fourth place here, he too improved on his effort last season when he was sixth, but his stamina gave way after the third last and connections can only hope his ability to stay extreme distances will increase with age he is still only eight.
By contrast, it was a relative veteran, the 12-year-old Hello Bud, who finished fifth. He was another to be up with the pace throughout, but also weakened at the business end of proceedings, which was slightly surprising given his victory in last seasons Scottish National.
Apart from the winner, the recurring theme amongst the horses filling the places was that they have all run well over these fences before many of them in the National itself and that trend was continued by Snowy Morning, in sixth. The Willie Mullins trained gelding was third in 2008 and ninth last year, and although he never looked like winning here he is fast becoming something of a course specialist.
For the seventh, Character Building, this was his first sight of the Aintree fences and many thought that this quirky individual would be suited by the unique test they present and in many ways he was. However, he was ridden well out the back for much of the race and was arguably given too much to do. In fairness to his jockey, the horse probably didnt jump as well as he could have over the first few obstacles and got behind early on as a result.
Of the rest that finished, Cloudy Lane was never competitive and has probably missed his chance of winning this race as his handicap mark has gone up markedly since he was sent off as favourite in 2008. The winner that year, Comply Or Die, could never land a blow either and was a well beaten twelfth.
As always, there were plenty of hard luck stories amongst those that failed to complete. Indeed, with next years race very much in mind, the performances of Backstage, Maljimar and Arbor Supreme are all worth a second look. All were travelling well when coming to grief and the former, in particular, looked unfortunate as he was still going nicely on the hooves of the leaders when hampered by a loose horse and unseating his rider at the 20th.
The well fancied Vic Venturi was also out of luck as he was badly hampered at the first and had just fought his way back into contention when he too was interfered with at the same fence and lost his rider.