LIVERPOOL (AFP) - Rule The World edged out joint-favourite The Last Samuri to win an emotional Grand National for Mouse Morris in a thrilling finish at Aintree on Saturday, less than a year after the trainer’s son Christopher died.
Nine-year-old Rule The World, at 33/1, made up three lengths on The Last Samuri after the final jump to take the lead at the Elbow and become the first horse to claim his first win over fences at the Grand National since the 19th century.
Winning jockey David Mullins, just 19 years old, was making his maiden Grand National appearance, and he timed his charge to perfection.
“It’s unbelievable. I couldn’t expect things to have gone any better, it all went to plan,” he told Channel Four.
“I’m very grateful for being given the chance to ride this horse.” The Last Samuri, ridden by David Bass, looked to be on course for victory after being backed in to 8/1 alongside defending champion Many Clouds ahead of the race.
But he was pipped by the Michael O’Leary-owned Rule The World, who stormed back to win by six lengths to give trainer Morris, whose son died while travelling in Argentina, his first Grand National win.
“Just magic. I’m just delighted,” Morris, who also won the Irish National with Rogue Angel on March 28, told BBC Radio Five Live.
“I don’t know what to say. To have the two in a couple of weeks is unbelievable – I’ve a lad who’s doing overtime for me up above.”
On Rule The World, he added: “I would have settled for third but he went on like a train. Until his accidents (two broken pelvises) he was one of the best ever we’ve had. How good could he have been? I have to pinch myself.”
First Lieutenant, ridden by Bryan Cooper, who had first choice on Rule The World, was the first to fall at the second, and champion trainer Paul Nicholls’ Silviniaco Conti pulled up at the halfway mark.
Willie Mullins’ Sir Des Champs, with Nina Carberry on board deputising for the injured Ruby Walsh, fell at the 15th fence.
In a dramatic race it was set up to be a straight fight between the two favourites, with Many Clouds going well alongside The Last Samuri, with jockey Leighton Aspell looking to become the first rider to ever win three consecutive titles.
But the gelding made a bad mistake at the fourth-last, just when he looked primed to become the first horse to make a successful defence since Red Rum in 1974.
Many Clouds’ errors shortly after the second time round the Canal Turn set up an unpredictable finish.
It was Rule The World who came from third place behind The Last Samuri and 100/1 outsider Vics Canvas after the 30th and final jump, to edge out Bass’ mount in the final couple of furlongs, before striding away down the stretch.
“I am delighted for Mouse, this horse has had two broken pelvises and he has brought him back each time,” said RyanAir owner O’Leary.
“It was a great ride by David Mullins. I am just lost for words and that does not happen for very often.”
Gilgamboa, priced at 28/1, made it three Irish horses in the top four, while Goonyella trailed in fifth place.
Only 12 of the 40 runners finished the four-and-a-quarter miles, but all the horses made it back to the paddock safely.