‘It’s what every young boy with a pony wants to do’: top jockey lands first Grand National win aboard ‘stable pet’

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  • I Am Maximus powered to victory with a superb performance in the 2024 Randox Grand National, giving top jockey Paul Townend his first win in the Aintree showpiece.

    The 7/1 joint-favourite, trained by Willie Mullins, showed a fierce turn of foot at the end of the 4m 2 1/2f test, blazing up the run-in to win by 7 ½ lengths.

    “It was an unbelievable race and he’s an unbelievable horse,” said Paul, carrying the famous green and gold silks of JP McManus to their third Grand National success.

    “The volume of horses just pushed me down over the first three and he got a little careful on the second circuit, but I was trying to conserve as much as I could as well.

    “We didn’t get the clearest run from the second last to the last, but it kind of helped me – I felt that he was going to start motoring when he got into clear air, which he did.

    “The ones in front of me, I’m sure they weren’t looking for me, but I had them well in my sights and I was hoping he’d respond as I thought he would.

    “The Gold Cup is the Gold Cup and Grade Ones are hard to win, but Grand Nationals are a bit different and you need so much luck. I can’t believe it, I’m a lucky boy.

    “It’s what every young boy with a pony wants to do.”

    Mr Mullins, who is now at the business end of the mix for the British trainers’ championship title, said that the eight-year-old “never shows on the gallop that he is a champion”.

    “He’s nearly a stable pet. If you saw him out in the field you wouldn’t pass any remark, but he’s obviously got an engine,” he said.

    Winning owner Mr McManus added: “I love everything about the race. I love Liverpool, the excitement of coming here, the build-up to the race. It’s just a very special place among very special people.”

    The Gordon Elliott-trained Delta Work, third here in 2022 and who unseated his jockey last year, added another Grand National podium finish to his CV by finishing second with Jack Kennedy.

    The 2021 Gold Cup winner Minella Indo, ridden by record-breaking Grand National-winning jockey Rachael Blackmore and trained by Henry De Bromhead, was third.

    Ronnie Bartlett’s Galvin, saddled by Mr Elliott, completed the Irish-trained one-two-three-four with Sam Ewing on board.

    Kitty’s Light, ridden by Jack Tudor, was the highest-placed British finisher in fifth for trainer Christian Williams. British amateur owner/rider David Maxwell finished sixth, with Ain’t That A Shame – the horse he bought for this race, trained by Mr De Bromhead.

    Last year’s winner Corach Rambler unseated Derek Fox at the first.

    This was the first running of the race since changes were made following the 2023 edition. A total of 32 started, 21 finished, four jockeys were unseated and seven pulled up.

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