Grand National glory for Auroras Encore

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Auroras Encore ridden by jockey Ryan Mania crosses the line to win the 2013 John Smith's Grand National ©TheAintreeInsider

Auroras Encore ridden by jockey Ryan Mania crosses the line to win the 2013 John Smith’s Grand National © Twitter/The Aintree Insider

A clear round of jumping under the clear blue skies of Liverpool saw 66-1 outsider, Auroras Encore, win the John Smith’s Grand National in front bumper 70,000 crowd.

It was another great occasion at Aintree and the result had its own Liverpool connection, as the winning horse’s part-owner, Jim Beaumont, was once a porter at the city’s Adelphi Hotel.

Beaumont told Channel 4: “This is so special, it always has been. I remember them leading the winners to the top of the Adelphi steps and now to have won it with one of my own, it’s very special.”

Many had speculated before the 166th running of world’s greatest horse race as to how the changes made to the course would help protect the welfare of both the horses and the jockeys, following a number of fatalities in the last few years.

The tension amongst the sell-out crowd increased during the afternoon and as the tapes went up for the ‘Big one’ shortly after 4.15pm, a roar resonated around the stands.

That was to be the first of many cheers, the others notably as all 40 runners cleared the first fence and in fact the following six  without fault, including the iconic Becher’s Brook which has claimed the rides of so many over the years.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=unykYn4ni4Y

The loudest cheer, however, was to be saved for the end, and as the 17 remaining horses swung for home, it was Auroras Encore who rounded the elbow in first place, some four lengths clear of its nearest rival.

That margin would eventually stretch to nine lengths as Auroras Encore beat the fast finishing Cappa Bleu into second, wih Teaforthree and Oscar Time making up for the first four for lucky each-way punters.

The result means that the names of both the 11-year-old bay gelding and that of Yorkshire-based trainer Sue Smith, who becomes only the third female to train the winner of the race after Jenny Pitman and Venetia Williams, will be etched on the honours board at the course.

The honours board at Aintree Racecourse listing the winners of the Grand National ©TheAintreeInsider

The honours board at Aintree Racecourse listing the winners of the Grand National © Twitter/The Aintree Insider

Smith said after the race: “It’s unbelievable. I knew the ground was right for him and hoped everything else was. He stayed down the middle and had a bit of luck in running. He didn’t have a lot of weight and that helped, too.

“He’s such a grand little horse, you can ride him any way you like.”

Onlookers cheered the victor, ridden by 23-year old Ryan Mania – who was riding in the event for the first time – into the sun-kissed winner’s enclosure, which is overlooked by a bust of Ginger McCain, who famously trained the three-time Grand National champion, Red Rum.

Following the race it was announced that all 40 riders and their mounts had come through the race unscathed, largely thanks to the new design of the fences which contain loose birch and are far more forgiving than they once were.

About Scott Rumsey, JMU Journalism