McCoy’s Magical moment tops the decade
As the old decade ended it was customary to recall the sporting moments of the ten years just gone.
In Grand National terms, nothing can surpass the moment that AP McCoy finally enjoyed glory in the world’s greatest steeplechase. Here are five of the finest moments from the last Grand National Decade.
2010: Don’t Push It
He’s widely recognised as jumps racing’s greatest jockey – 20-times champion rider in Britain and won everything the game had to offer – but AP McCoy couldn’t get his hands on the Grand National. The race had come and gone 14 times when he partnered Don’t Push It for Jonjo O’Neill and his boss JP McManus in 2010.
McCoy revealed later that it was only the trainer’s advice that convinced him Don’t Push It was the horse for him that year. The rest is spine-tingling history. Backed from 25/1 in the morning into 10/1, McCoy more than ever was carrying the punters’ hopes and he got the job done, beating Black Apalachi by five lengths.
‘Iron Man’ McCoy even shed a tear afterwards and his reflections on the moment later revealed just what this race meant to him.
“The build-up to the Grand National is different because you know that it’s on the news in the morning,” he said. “You know that everyone’s talking about it and it’s on the front page of most of the daily newspapers.”
2012: Neptune Collonges
The win for Neptune Collonges just about caught the tail end of a Golden Era for Paul Nicholls. The Ditcheat supremo enjoyed a fairytale period with the likes of Kauto Star, Denman, Master Minded and Big Buck’s but, like McCoy, this prize had eluded him.
That all changed in 2012 in what remains the closest Grand National finish of all time.
Daryl Jacob steered his mount to the slenderest of wins, requiring a photograph to split Neptune Collonges and Sunnyhillboy after more than 4m2f around Aintree.
The winner was a 33/1 chance and the official winning margin was nothing more than a nose. It remains Nicholls’ sole victory in the great race to date.
2015: Many Clouds
Leighton Aspell wrote his name into the history books as the first rider to win successive Grand Nationals since Brian Fletcher guided Red Rum to victory in 1973 and 1974.
Many Clouds was also providing another Aintree win for Grand National enthusiast Trevor Hemmings, whose green and yellow quartered silks have been carried to success a joint-record three times (Hedgehunter in 2005 and Ballabriggs in 2011).
This was the year McCoy would ride his final Grand National although well-backed favourite Shutthefrontdoor could only manage fifth place.
Having given trainer Richard Newland his first National success with Pineau De Re a year previous, Aspell handed Oliver Sherwood his big Aintree moment with Many Clouds, who would sadly pass away in January 2017 following an heroic victory in the Cotswold Chase at Cheltenham.
2017: One For Arthur
Scotland’s record in the Grand National is not a thing of joy, with Rubstic’s 1979 success being the only winner from north of Hadrian’s Wall prior to 2017.
This was the 170th edition of the race and Lucinda Russell became only the fourth woman to trainer the winner, adding another famous layer to One For Arthur’s story, while it was winning rider Derek Fox’s first spin in the race.
One For Arthur’s owners, Belinda McClung and Deborah Thomson, stole the show in the aftermath, with their superbly-named ‘Golf Widows’ syndicate a tribute to their often-absent spouses.
One For Arthur jumped into the lead at the final obstacle and stayed on resolutely to hold off Cause Of Causes by just over four lengths.
2019: Tiger Roll
Not since Red Rum had any horse managed to come back and defend the Grand National crown. Indeed, no winner since Red Rum’s third triumph in 1977 had even managed to repeat the feat, far less in back-to-back years.
Step forward Tiger Roll. Small in stature but huge in heart and desire, Gordon Elliott’s redoubtable star has become the biggest name in jumps racing following his Aintree exploits.
He’s a four-time winner at Cheltenham Festival and turned the tables on those who scoffed at his starting price of 4/1 to retain this crown.
Davy Russell’s mount went around the course with a minimum of fuss and appeared full of running when hitting the front at the final fence.
He moved clear rounding the elbow and held off Magic Of Light to capture his place in Grand National history. A fitting end to any decade.