Londoners would be excused for thinking that they were seeing things when the 2016 Grand National winner Rule The World made his way through the centre of the capital yesterday (14 February 2017).
The Mouse Morris-trained novice chaser had made the trip to London from his home in Ireland to mark the prestigious Grand National weights ceremony for the 2017 race, which will run on 8 April.
Immaculately turned out, the now retired Rule The World stopped off at Abbey Road, Tower Bridge and the Tower of London on his way to The Victoria & Albert Museum where the event was held.
The Weights Event has happened every year since 1977 to announce the weights of the final 100 horses that could run in this year’s Grand National.
Top weight for the one-million-pound race this year was Outlander (11st 10lb), winner of the Grade One Lexus Chase at Leopardstown over Christmas. However trainer Gordon Elliott — who dominated the weights with 11 of the top 40 in the running for the race — was quick to rule out the nine-year-old from the contest.
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“It was so special to have the reigning champion there for the top trainers and guests to see as they entered the building and of course have a picture with,” says Lucy Hancock from The Jockey Club.
“Rule The World was in great spirits all day and loved the attention from the team and public. His manners were impeccable and he most definitely enjoyed being a celebrity outside the V&A. He took it all in his stride. He had a fantastic team who brought him over from Ireland and the day ran very smoothly — we were very lucky to have such beautiful weather too.”
H&H news writer Lucy Elder who was at the event added: “As we arrived we could see a group of photographers at the entrance to the museum, I thought there must be a VIP there and wondered who it could be.
“As we got closer I realised it was The VIP — 2016 champ Rule The World. He seemed very relaxed and to be enjoying all the attention. I suppose a group of snappers in central London is a breeze once you have made it though the heaving crowds to the Aintree winners’ enclosure!”
Rule The World clinched the 2016 Aintree spectacular as a 33-1 shot, with the 19-year-old David Mullins on board. It was the horse’s first win over fences.