Nick Scholfield’s blog: how it feels to ride — and fall — in the Grand National

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  • I always love the Grand National and I enjoyed it as much this year as in the past — though it was a shame to come off Teaforthree at The Chair.

    I had a great run in the Topham on Friday [over the National fences], Cedre Bleu and I finished 10th which was a nice warm up. I thought the fences rode brilliantly and Aintree deserves credit for that.

    All runners came back safely from the Fox Hunters’, Topham and Grand National, which is always brilliant to hear. The changes they’ve made [softening the fences and the core and levelling the drops] are clearly working well.

    I was very lucky to have a ride in the big race — let alone on the favourite — so I was really looking forward to it. Obviously it didn’t quite go to plan and we didn’t go as well as I’d hoped but that’s racing.

    Parting company at The Chair

    Sometimes when you’re riding in the Grand National and you come down you can be a bit disappointed and annoyed as you felt you were going really well.

    At the time Teaforthree (pictured jumping in the blue and white stripes) didn’t feel like his usual self. He didn’t have that sparkle that he did last year when he finished 3rd so that might account for his mistakes.

    The Chair usually rides quite well, actually. Although it’s big and has a massive ditch you don’t tend to see much drama there, as if your horse has got that far he’s usually jumping well enough. Usually!

    Obviously when you’re travelling at 30mph and you suddenly go to zero when you hit the ground it’s a bit of a shock. I was quite sore for a couple of days but I’m fine now. Luckily all the other runners managed to avoid me when they were landing.

    There’s always a great atmosphere at Aintree. You don’t actually hear all the noise and the crowds when you’re riding in the race though.

    It sounds really loud if you’re there as a fan or when you’re watching on TV but when you’re riding you just block it out and focus on what you’re doing. The start was a bit of a mess with a couple of false starts, which is a shame. But we can’t really talk about it as it’s progressed to a British Horseracing Authority hearing.

    A popular winner

    It might have been a surprise to those not in racing that Dr Richard Newland trained the winner, but to us who work in it it was no shock he bagged the big one. He might only have a small string [of 12] but he’s a very, very good trainer and he’s well regarded.

    We were all delighted for Leighton Aspell too, no one deserves it more. He retired [for 18 months in 2007] and has come back on top. He’s a real down to earth guy. He’s also 37, and seeing as AP McCoy had to wait until he was 35 to win the Grand National it makes me feel better about my chances. I’m only 24 so I’ve got a few more years to keep trying!

    The 3 days at Aintree are always good fun, the atmosphere is really different and all the ladies make a real effort with their outfits — it’s definitely good for a bit of people watching.

    I had a couple of nice rides and was pleased that Rolling Aces came 2nd in the Melling Chase.

    It was great to see Paul Nicholls on the way to wrapping up the trainer’s championship too. It’s been a great performance from him. He hasn’t had the horses he’s had in previous years but the fact he’s come back and done it with a new team is credit to him.

    I’m off to Ayr this weekend to ride Sam Winner in the Scottish National so hopefully I can get a winner in that instead.


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