Many Clouds wins Grand National at Aintree

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Many Clouds won the 2015 Grand National. Pic © Honest Frank / Twitter

Many Clouds won the 2015 Grand National. Pic © Honest Frank / Twitter

Legendary rider AP McCoy was denied an emotional farewell victory in his last ever Grand National as Leighton Aspell triumphed with 25-1 underdog Many Clouds to clinch back-to-back wins at Aintree, in front of 72,000 spectators.

Aspell, who rode Pineau de Re to the 2014 Crabbies Grand National title, became the first man jockey to win successive crowns since Brian Fletcher on the great Red Rum in 1973 and 1974, and the first to do so on a different horse since the 1950s.

Widely regarded as the greatest jump jockey of all time, McCoy failed in his bid to add a lucrative second Grand National win to his solitary triumph in 2010 with Don’t Push It as his mount, Shutthefrontdoor, finished in fifth place and proved to be no match for Many Clouds.

Bookies feared a reported £50m loss before the showpiece event began as punters from across the country heavily backed McCoy’s 7-1 Shutthefrontdoor to storm to glory, but Aspell had other plans as he aimed to write his name in racing folklore.

In contrast to last year’s dull and cloudy weather, the entrants were greeted by Liverpool’s finest sunshine this time around and an early shock drew major gasps of disappointment from the famous Aintree terraces as 20-1 Al Co was unseated at the first fence.

And Al Co, who tasted victory in the prestigious 2014 Scottish Grand National, wasn’t the only horse supported strongly by attendees to fail to finish the course as last year’s runner-up Balthazar King fell at the eighth and was transported to hospital after the event was over.

Although McCoy wasn’t granted his dream fairytale ending in his final appearance at the world’s greatest steeplechase, Shutthefrontdoor rode well right from the get-go but the JP McManus-owned horse tired towards the end and allowed Monbeg Dude to move ahead.

Monbeg Dude sprung one of the major surprises of the day as the 40-1 horse was steered past Shutthefrontdoor and ahead of Alvarado, who finished fourth for the second year in a row, and into third behind jockey PJ Brennan and 25-1 mount Saint Are.

Crowds at Aintree ahead of the 2015 Grand National. Pic © Matthew Judge /  JMU Journalism

Crowds at Aintree ahead of the 2015 Grand National. Pic © Matthew Judge / JMU Journalism

Saint Are soaked up the rapturous atmosphere towards the final furlongs and kept up the heat on Aspell, but the Irishman managed to keep his composure as Many Clouds crossed the finishing line in sublime fashion, with 19 horses in total completing the four-and-a-half mile race.

It proved to be yet another momentous day in the end for Aspell, who retired for 18 months in 2007 after falling out of love with the sport, and the victorious 38-year-old said afterwards: “It was wonderful and we will certainly celebrate tonight. I asked some big questions, but he dug deep.

“He is all heart – all season he has had hard races.

“Win lose or draw, that’s the best ride I have had in the National. I just hoped his battery life lasted out and it did.”

About Matthew Judge, JMU Journalism