A noble farewell
A look back at a noble winner of the Grand National by Gary Mackenzie
Every year the Grand National throws up a story. Red Rum’s third win, Bob Champion and Aldaniti, and of course Rachael Blackmore last year.
This year was no exception. After dismounting from Jett in the Foxhunters, Sam Waley-Cohen told the ITV audience that his last ever ride would be on Noble Yeats in the big race.
So it was surely written in the stars that his mount would cross the line in front.
Sam Waley-Cohen is, or rather was, an amateur but, like Nina Carberry, Jamie Codd, and Patrick Mullins, it is in name only. And his record over the National course is extraordinary.
He has ridden in forty races over the spruce and he has had seven winners including three Foxhunters and two Tophams.
Add to that his four seconds and two thirds it means he would hit the frame, at least, on average every third journey over the National fences.
You have to feel for Any Second Now. Third last year after suffering interference and then second this time. He actually led over the last but could not repel the winner on the run in. He was giving Noble Yeats nearly a stone so it was a remarkable run.
The third, fourth, and fifth horses have all been Grade 1 winners in the past and all ran big races. From a personal point of view I have to be happy with the run of Santini. I thought he would stay well.
The loss of Discorama was particularly sad for me as he was an old friend. He had some great days at Cheltenham despite not winning. He will be missed.
It was a strange day for me. I did not have a winner (I even managed to get Edwardstone beaten) but thanks to three of my four yankee selections being placed I came out slightly ahead.