Hedgehunter (pictured) enjoyed a runaway victory in the 2005 John Smiths Grand National under jockey Ruby Walsh on Saturday. The Aintree crowds roared home the 7-1 favourite after a spectacular display of jumping over the course’s famous hedges.
There was no sign of tiredness in the Willie Mullins-trained horse as he jumped the final fence, which proved to be his undoing in 2004, and he streaked home to leave the rest of the field some 14 lengths in his wake.
It was a second Grand National win for a delighted Walsh, who told the BBC: “He’s a proper horse. He’s brilliant.”
A couple of hair raising moments for Walsh on the way to victory proved nothing when compared to Tony McCoy’s continued run of bad luck in the race. McCoy was leading the field on board Clan Royal when a loose horse interfered with them on the approach to Becher’s Brook for the second time, forcing them into the rails.
This left Hedgehunter at the head of affairs, although some two fences from home there were still around 10 horses in with a chance of victory, including the people’s favourite Carrie Ford with Forest Gunner.
On landing from the last, Hedgehunter was travelling by far the best of the leaders and when Walsh asked him to go on at the elbow, nothing had the legs to catch him. Royal Auclair stayed on well to take second, ahead of Simply Gifted in third, and It Takes Time, fourth.
Ford brought her race-riding career to an end with an impressive fifth place on board Forest Gunner, whose stamina had simply run out by the end of the four-and-a-half mile course.