Comply Or Die gave jockey Timmy Murphy and trainer David Pipe a first John Smith’s Grand National success when cruising round to win by four lengths.
The well-backed nine-year-old took to the massive Aintree fences like a duck to water on his first visit to the track, and put up an impressive display of jumping and stamina to fend off a late challenge from King Johns Castle and the canny Paul Carberry, who finished second. David Johnson takes home £450,000 for owning Comply Or Die, his first National winner after many runners in the race.
Comply Or Die, a son of the leading national hunt sire Old Vic, had the whole of 2006 and most of 2007 off with leg trouble, and ran poorly on his first two runs back.
Then he ran second to Cloudy Lane at Haydock in the Tommy Whittle Chase, and moved up to near the head of the Grand National betting market after winning Newcastle’s marathon Eider Chase in February, and was sent off 7-1 joint-favourite with the Donald McCain-trained Cloudy Lane, who finished sixth.
David Pipe, whose father Martin won two Nationals, is in only his second season as a trainer, and said: “He looked tailor-made for the race after the Eider, he’s bred to jump and stay, and Timmy’s given him a superb ride. There’s no feeling like this.”
Timmy Murphy said: “It’s everyone’s dream to win the National — but it hasn’t really sunk in yet.”
Behind the grey King Johns Castle were the Willie Mullins-trained Snowy Morning, ridden by David Casey, and Slim Pickings, whose Aintree record is excellent — third last year and fourth this time, with Barry Geraghty in the saddle. Bewleys Berry was fifth.
Fifteen horses finished from the starting field of 40, and there was one fatality — the Peter Bowen-trained McKelvey, who finished second in last year’s race.
1. Comply Or Die (Timmy Murphy)
2. King Johns Castle (Paul Carberry)
3. Snowy Morning (Willie Mullins)
4. Slim Pickings (Barry Geraghty)
Don’t miss Horse & Hound’s Grand National report issue, on sale Thursday 10 April. Featuring Marcus Armytage’s 11-page report on all the thrills and spills of the 2008 John Smith’s Grand National, including comments from top jockey Robert Thornton and the first woman to train a Grand National winner, Jenny Pitman. Grand National report issue is on sale 10 April, priced £2.30