‘For a moment I thought this was going to be it’

 

Nicky Henderson expressed his disappointment after coming close to breaking his 44-year Grand National drought with Mister Coffey, who led for much of the race before eventually finishing eighth.

“I have to say for a moment I thought this was going to be it, which makes it all the harder really, but there you go,” said Henderson. “We know what this game is all about and we’ll have to come back and do it again next year. You can’t do much better than that. He deserved to finish in the first four for what he had done. He jumped from fence to fence and, like Nico said, you did sort of think you were going to get there, but not quite.”

Nico de Boinville, who rode Mister Coffey, had mixed emotions about the performance. “He gave me a fantastic spin and I’m absolutely delighted,” he said. “We can be really proud of him and he’s a true National type. Of course, you start to think when you’re crossing the road like that, but hey-ho it wasn’t to be.”

Vanillier, ridden by Sean Flanagan, finished second, two and a quarter lengths behind the winner, Corach Rambler. Flanagan commented on the race, saying, “I jumped a little slow early and I probably got further back than I wanted to be. He’s a really strong stayer and probably didn’t go forward early enough. But he stayed all the way to the line and jumped really well. I was very happy with him.”

Noble Yeats, defending champion and carrying a 19lb higher mark, ran a gallant race to finish in fourth place, just behind Gaillard Du Mesnil, trained by Willie Mullins. Owner Robert Waley-Cohen had no complaints about Noble Yeats’ performance, stating, “He was carrying an enormous amount of weight and I have absolutely no complaints about how he ran. I thought he finished off really strong, but he had 19lb more than last year and second topweight.”

 

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“I got a fall last week and banged my shoulder which was far from ideal. I was worried all week as I thought this horse could do it today and I’m just thankful I made it back in time as it was the thrill of my life to have ridden him,” said Fox, who rode Corach Rambler to victory in the Grand National.

“My physio Jenny Drysdale has done a great job working on the shoulder all week and it is thanks to her I was back and ready to go today. I got the all-clear to ride this morning really – I had to do some press-ups to make sure I was fit and I was very lucky to have passed the doctor in time,” Fox added.

“It is thanks to Lucinda and Scu for having the faith in me to put me up having not ridden all week. I feel very lucky to be working for such great people.”

Fox has partnered Corach Rambler on all 13 starts and has now ridden the last two British-trained winners of the Aintree showpiece, having steered One For Arthur to victory in the iconic race in 2017.

Russell, the trainer of Corach Rambler, said: “Derek was very close to not making the ride. I had a very surreal conversation with him at the start of the week about what did he want to do. It was hard for him to sit out with Ahoy Senor but he made the right decision, he didn’t want to hurt himself before the National. I’m so pleased he was back, he knows Corach so well and he’s just a fabulous jockey.”

 

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“Hill Sixteen got absolutely hyper and we washed him off. They haven’t a bloody clue what they’re doing. He just hasn’t taken off at the first fence; he’s got so bloody hyper because of the carry on,” said trainer Sandy Thomson, blaming the delay caused by animal rights protesters for the fatal injury suffered by his horse at the Randox Grand National.

“Dickon White, north west regional director for the Jockey Club said: ‘Hill Sixteen was immediately attended by expert veterinary professionals during the Grand National, but sadly sustained a fatal injury. Our heartfelt condolences are with his connections.'”

Julie Harrington, chief executive of the BHA, expressed condolences for the horses that suffered fatal injuries during the event and highlighted the efforts of British racing to improve safety standards. She also condemned the actions of the protesters disrupting the race, stating, “We respect the right of anyone to hold views about our sport, but we robustly condemn the reckless and potentially harmful actions of a handful of people in disrupting the race at a time when horses were in the parade ring.”

“The Grand National is and always will be an iconic sporting event and the actions of a small number of people today will do nothing to diminish its huge and enduring international appeal,” added Harrington.

 

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“The people were defending their race. It showcases their city to however many hundreds of million people around the world and they don’t want that spoiled,” said proud Liverpudlian Mick Quinn, former professional footballer turned trainer, praising the response of racegoers at Aintree who helped stop protestors from disrupting the Grand National.

“There was a time the race was on its knees with regards to a sponsor and it looked like petering out. It’s been rejuvenated and revamped and is still the most exciting race in the world,” Quinn continued. “As a spectacle, it takes your breath away and the Liverpool people are very proud of it. The meeting is massive in the calendar – for the people in the city it’s their Royal Ascot.”

Quinn, who was based in Newmarket but stopped training in 2021, recalled being captivated by the exploits of three-time National hero Red Rum in the 1970s. “I was lucky being brought up in the 1970s with that great Liverpool team and Red Rum. I trained on the Flat, but he’s my equine hero and that’s why I’m still so passionate about the race. It was great to grow up when he was in his pomp and peak, and the race is a firm part of my upbringing and had an influence on me getting involved in the sport.”

Despite the risks inherent in any sport, Quinn expressed pride in the race and its history, noting the efforts made to modify the race and fences to make it as safe as possible. “We don’t want any fatalities and I’m still proud of the race, as are many others in Liverpool,” he said.

 

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Jimmy Fyffe, owner of Hill Sixteen, has defended the sport of horse racing and its record on horse welfare, despite the tragic loss of his star horse at Aintree on Saturday in the Randox Grand National. Hill Sixteen, a ten-year-old horse trained by Sandy Thomson, fell for the first time in his 27-race career at the first fence in the National, which had been delayed by animal rights protesters.

Fyffe, who co-owned Hill Sixteen with Scott Townshend, expressed his support for the care that racehorses receive and stated that his horse’s death would not deter him from the sport. He emphasized that horses in racing are well looked after by trainers and compared the risks to those that horses face in a field.

“You can lose a horse in the field who is running about,” Fyffe said. “The horses get looked after so well by all of the trainers. I’ve been in all the stables where I’ve got horses and they’re looked after like kings, they really are. Sadly it [losing a horse] happened for me and Scott, but I love the game and invest a lot of money in it. The horses have a great life and love running, so I’ve got no qualms with staying in this game.”

Thomson, the trainer of Hill Sixteen, blamed the incident on the delayed start of the race due to animal rights protesters who had entered the course and attempted to secure themselves to fences and railings. He believed that the prolonged wait caused Hill Sixteen to become “hyper” and that it may have played a part in the fatal injury.

Fyffe agreed with Thomson’s assessment, stating, “It didn’t help with the horses walking about for a lengthy amount of time and then going back to the stables and coming back again. That wasn’t good for the horses. I was absolutely gutted to lose Hill Sixteen, especially for the stable staff, Sandy and all his team. It was heartbreaking.”

Hill Sixteen’s loss was not the only setback Fyffe and Townshend experienced at Aintree. On Friday, their horse Cooper’s Cross, trained by Stuart Coltherd, fell four fences from the finish in the Topham, after being hampered while traveling well.

Fyffe, who is also a director and sponsor of the Scottish Premiership football team Dundee United, had a mixed experience at Aintree, as less than an hour after his National heartbreak, he won the concluding Grade 2 bumper with the Nicky Richards-trained horse Florida Dreams. Fyffe expressed his excitement and happiness about the win, stating, “He’s very exciting, and it was good getting a win on home soil first [at Musselburgh], and then we wanted to keep him for this race. I love Aintree, sadly I lost a horse in the National, which is the ups and downs of the sport. I love getting a lot of my horses here, so to win was brilliant.”

Despite the tragic loss of Hill Sixteen, Fyffe’s resolve to continue his involvement in horse racing remains strong. He is appreciative of the care that racehorses receive from trainers and believes that the horses lead a good life and enjoy running. While acknowledging the risks involved, he remains committed to the sport and looks forward to future successes with his horses.

 

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On Saturday, a group of animal rights activists disrupted the Grand National horse race at Aintree, resulting in the arrest of 23 people and causing a delay in the start of the race by nearly 15 minutes. The protesters, wearing pink t-shirts and plain clothes, attempted to breach the perimeter fence or gates near Becher’s Brook and the Canal Turn. Some used ladders to climb over the fence, which were confiscated by police and security staff, while others tried to climb over unaided.

Merseyside Police reported that “the majority” of the protesters were prevented from entering the racecourse, but nine individuals managed to make it onto the track. Some of them glued themselves to the second fence, while others tried to shackle themselves to the running rail by the Canal Turn. The police, in cooperation with the Jockey Club and other partners, had anticipated the possibility of protests and stated that while peaceful protest and expression of views were respected, criminal behavior and disorder would not be tolerated and would be dealt with robustly.

Prior to the race, a 33-year-old woman from London was arrested in Greater Manchester on suspicion of conspiracy to cause public nuisance in relation to the Grand National. By 6:30 pm on Saturday, a total of 23 people had been arrested before and during the racing event. Aintree confirmed that two horses, Cape Gentleman and Recite A Prayer, were taken for further veterinary inspection after the race, while Hill Sixteen was put down after falling at the first fence, with a video of the incident posted online by the animal rights group.

The actions of the protesters were condemned by prominent figures within the racing community. Grand National-winning jockey Sir Anthony McCoy labeled them “attention seekers,” and Sandy Thomson, whose horse Hill Sixteen suffered a fatal fall during the race, expressed that they “haven’t a bloody clue what they’re doing.” Other jockeys, trainers, and owners also expressed frustration at the disruption caused by the protesters, with concerns raised about the impact on horse welfare and the delay causing horses to walk around the parade area repeatedly.

Animal rights activists had expressed their intention to protest at this year’s Grand National in the lead-up to the event. In addition to protesting outside the racecourse, some activists had outlined plans to bypass security and potentially disrupt the race by creating human barriers. Orla Coghlan, a spokeswoman for the animal rights group Animal Rising, which also blocked the M57 motorway in Liverpool on Saturday, stated that “Today marks not the end, but the beginning, of the summer of Animal Rising. We will be defending animals and nature and creating an unignorable national conversation about our relationship to animals and the natural world.”

 

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In the 175th running of the Grand National, the world’s most popular horserace, it was Corach Rambler who emerged as the victorious champion. Despite initial delays caused by animal rights protesters, who failed to stop the race but managed to delay its start, the race eventually took place, and Corach Rambler, ridden by jockey Derek Fox and trained by Lucinda Russell, triumphed with brilliance and bravery.

Six years after winning the Grand National with One For Arthur, Russell and Fox once again scored a win for Scotland. However, their joy was tempered by the tragic loss of Hill Sixteen, who lost his life following a fall at the first fence. The race had been delayed due to protesters managing to get on the track, and some even attempted to attach themselves to the fences. Despite these challenges, the race eventually commenced, and Corach Rambler emerged as the victor.

Fox, who had been cleared to ride only at lunchtime due to a shoulder injury, rode Corach Rambler to perfection, allowing the horse to trail behind outsider Mister Coffey before making a decisive move at the final fence to take the lead and win the race comfortably. Corach Rambler, one of only 13 British-trained runners in the race, crossed the finish line two and a quarter lengths ahead of Vanillier, with Gaillard Du Mesnil and last year’s winner Noble Yeats taking third and fourth place.

Fox expressed his admiration for Corach Rambler, “I just let him bowl away,” said Fox. “He’s an electric jumper and so intelligent. He was in front for a long time but he won so easily. He’s a marvellous horse.”

Russell, too, was ecstatic about the victory. “That was just amazing,” declared Russell, immediately expressing a desire to comment on the scenes that took place before the race.

“Those guys that went out on the course to protest think it’s about horse welfare,” she said. “That horse loves the sport. He loves everything he does and he is kept in the best conditions. I’m so delighted he can run in a race like that and perform like that. He has now got greatness – and that’s what he deserves.

“In our hearts, Corach Rambler is just the best horse – and now he is in the public’s hearts as well.”

Russell added: “I know how important it is to win the National. I know how it changed my life with Arthur and what reverence Arthur was held in. For Corach to now achieve that is just fantastic.

“It’s all about the horses. For me, it’s not about betting, although I did back him – and quite a lot, actually, ante-post. It’s not about, though. It’s about Corach.

“That horse has been amazing. I’m delighted for myself, delighted for the team, delighted for Scu because he has done all the work with him, delighted for Derek, who has had a hard time and a problem with his shoulder, and I’m delighted for the fantastic owners.

“But you know what? It’s about Corach. He is just amazing. He took to those fences brilliantly, he understand them and he worked it out. He loved it.”

Scudamore, who had done all the work with the horse, emphasised that the safety and well-being of the horse were paramount, and winning was secondary.

“You shouldn’t get so attached to these beautiful creatures but you do,” said Scudamore. “He’ll be looked after for the rest of his life. The fact he is safe and sound means more than winning.”

Cameron Sword, one of the owners of Corach Rambler, at the age of 21, expressed his elation and praised the horse’s performance.

“I’m over the moon,” he said. “What a horse! I’m lost for words.”

Sword then gave his view on those who had tried to stop the race.

“How can you be protesting against horseracing when your protests were making the horses wait out in the sun for longer,” he said. “It makes no sense. They can do one. This is our sport and I love it.”

 

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Merseyside Police have reaffirmed their commitment to ensuring safety and security at the upcoming Grand National day at Aintree, following reports of potential protests by activists. According to the Mail on Sunday, over 100 activists are planning to storm security fences at the racecourse and form a human barricade across the National course. It was reported that the ringleaders of the planned protest had visited the racecourse twice to identify potential security weaknesses.

Merseyside Police stated that they have a robust policing plan in place for the event, in collaboration with partners including The Jockey Club. They respect the right to peaceful protest and freedom of expression, but will not tolerate any public order or criminal offences, which will be dealt with firmly.

A spokesperson for Merseyside Police said: “Merseyside Police has a robust policing plan in place for Aintree, as it does for any major public event, to ensure the safety and wellbeing of everyone involved.

“We have been working with our partners, including The Jockey Club, for a number of months in the build up to this year’s festival to ensure that any necessary plans and processes are in place to deal with any incidents that may arise and to prevent any significant or ongoing disruption to racegoers and local residents and businesses.

“We respect the right to peaceful protest and expression of views, but public order or criminal offences will not be tolerated and will be dealt with robustly.”

There have been previous incidents of protests at racing events, including six activists who ran onto the track at Epsom before the Derby in 2022, and four climate-change protesters who chained themselves to the rail at Royal Ascot in 2021.

In 1993, the National was declared void after protestors entered the track near the first fence, leading to delays and two false starts before the race was finally run. In 1997, the race was postponed by two days due to a bomb threat, but Lord Gyllene won the rescheduled contest.

 

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“We’ve just run out of time”: Clan Des Obeaux will not run this season, but there is still an Aintree option for the Bravemansgame.

Clan Des Obeaux has been ruled out for the rest of the season by Paul Nicholls, but Britain’s champion trainer has said that Gold Cup second Bravemansgame could run at either Punchestown or Aintree.

Although Nicholls has a potential strong replacement for Clan Des Obeaux in Bravemansgame, the horse that has won the previous two Bowls at Aintree will not be ready in time to compete for a third victory in the Grade 1 next month.

The King George winner was brave in the Gold Cup at Cheltenham, where he finished seven lengths behind Galopin Des Champs, who jumped the last in tandem with the winner.

Nicholls will not let the presence of Bravemansgame’s Cheltenham conqueror influence his decision if Punchestown is deemed a better fit for him, despite his desire to avoid a rematch with Galopin Des Champs this spring.

“Clan Des Obeaux won’t make it to Aintree; we’ve just run out of time,” said Nicholls. “He’s had a few warning lights flashing, so we’re going to leave him until next season, and now everyone has jumped on the bandwagon of ‘Bravemansgame is going to run now’. Bravemansgame has an option of that or Punchestown, either option is open to us.

“The most important thing is to make sure we’re happy with him wherever he runs, if we do run him again this season. If we could avoid Galopin Des Champs, anyone would wisely do that, especially on his home turf. You’d want to avoid getting into another scrap with him until next March, so that’ll come into our thinking, but we’ll make the best decision for our horse if we’re happy with him.”

Nicholls has won the Aintree Bowl a record six times with See More Business, What A Friend, Silviniaco Conti (two times), and Clan Des Obeaux (two times).

“Age has caught up a little with him and he’s had this very minor injury,” he added. “His suspensory boots have troubled us. We thought he’d get there and we were very happy with him, but by the end of the week we realised we weren’t going to make it. It’s frustrating as it’s a minor injury, but it doesn’t matter the extent, if we have a problem we have to be careful.”

Nicholls will delay any decisions regarding his 11-year-old horse until he has spoken with his owners and has not ruled out another bid for the elusive treble in the Bowl next year. Clan Des Obeaux has not competed since finishing second to Allaho in the Punchestown Gold Cup last season, which is the race that Bravemansgame may be targeting.

 

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‘It’s going to be a mammoth task’ – Emmet Mullins realistic as Noble Yeats bids to claim back-to-back Nationals.

Emmet Mullins, the trainer, believes Noble Yeats faces a “mammoth task” in his attempt to win the Grand National twice. However, he reported that the eight-year-old horse is in excellent form after finishing fourth in the Cheltenham Gold Cup.

The 167-rated chaser, a general 8-1 shot to repeat last year’s success, will need to carry 11st 11lb to victory to follow in the footsteps of Tiger Roll and Red Rum and win consecutive Grand Nationals.

Noble Yeats became the first seven-year-old to win the Aintree showpiece since 1940 when scoring under Sam Waley-Cohen in April. The surprise 50-1 winner of the race last year while still a novice was Noble Yeats.

After being outpaced for much of the race, Noble Yeats ran well but was beaten 15 lengths by Galopin Des Champs in the Gold Cup. Mullins stated: He has emerged from the Gold Cup well overall. He appears great. I would have said that I needed to work him this week if he hadn’t run in the Gold Cup, so the National is set for now.

“It’s going to be a mammoth task to carry that weight, but we know he likes the course and stays the trip so that’s two big ticks to have.

“He ran a good race at Cheltenham, he galloped all the way to the line and the National trip looks to be definitely in his favour.”

Corbetts Cross, Mullins’ promising novice hurdler, may have finished the season. The JP McManus-possessed six-year-old has won multiple times in a useful season including a Grade 2 at Naas, and was all the while voyaging great in the Albert Bartlett at Cheltenham when he dodged right and ran out at the last obstacle.

Mullins said: “It was just one of those things at Cheltenham and we’ll give him the benefit of the doubt. I’m not sure we’ll we see him again this season. I ran him at Naas not knowing whether we would be going to Cheltenham or not, but we decided to head there and it nearly paid off. We are in a different position now so we’ll have to gather our thoughts and reassess.”

Another one of the trainer’s runners, Filey Bay, put on a good show at Prestbury Park. He finished third in the County Hurdle despite making a few mistakes when jumping.

Mullins said: “Filey Bay ran a stormer in the County when his jumping just let him down in the middle part of the race. He’s creeping up the handicap all the time without getting his head in front, which is a bit frustrating.”

 

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