Britain’s greatest jump jockey won Britain’s greatest race, the John Smith’s Grand National, today at Aintree.
AP McCoy was first past the post after 15 years of trying, riding the perfect race on Don’t Push It to come home five lengths clear of Black Apalachi.
It was a first victory in the £925,000 race for AP, trainer Jonjo O’Neill and owner JP McManus. Between them they had made 62 attempts at it.
AP sat in mid-division on the 10-year-old son of Old Vic, who carried 11st 5lb, moving up into fourth place after the Canal Turn. The pair only made one slight mistake, at the 26th fence — where last year’s winner Mon Mome fell — and came up into second place at the penultimate jump. They jumped into the lead at the last fence and AP kicked clear to win comfortably.
The pair shared favouritism at 10-1 with Big Fella Thanks, who finished fourth under Barry Geraghty. Ruby Walsh was due to ride the Paul Nicholls-trained Big Fella Thanks, but he broke an arm in the Aintree Hurdle two races before the National and Barry took the ride.
State Of Play, fourth last year, went one better in third, while 17-year-old Sam Twiston-Davies had a dream ride on Hello Bud to finish fifth after being at the head of affairs until his stamina ran out in the last couple of furlongs.
But the day belonged to AP. He will be crowned champion jockey for the 15th time in a few weeks and has now won every big race in the calender, but this was surely the most meaningful.
The 35-year-old was in tears after the race, saying: “This means everything to me. My daughter Eve is 21/2. She’ll hopefully be proud of me now when she grows up.”
Fourteen horses finished the race, and no serious injuries to any of the fallers were reported.
Don’t miss H&H’s full report and analysis of the entire Grand National meeting, on sale Thursday 15 April, 2010