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Sunday, April 5, 1998 Published at 08:15 GMT 09:15 UK


Earth Summit wins National
image: [ Earth Summit ran a patient race ]
Earth Summit ran a patient race

The closing stages: commentary from BBC Radio 5Live (41")
Earth Summit, the 7-1 favourite, won the Grand National at Aintree. He was streets ahead by the time he passed the winning post.

Suny Bay was 11 lengths behind. Samlee and St Mellion Fairway were a very distant third and fourth.

[ image: Earth Summitt looked cool in the paddock]
Earth Summitt looked cool in the paddock
It was a superbly judged ride from jockey Carl Llewellyn who rode Party Politics to victory in 1992. It repaid the faith of trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies who nursed the horse back to fitness after serious injury two years ago.

The weather had a big impact on this year's National. It made it difficult for spectators who had endured long queues to get into Aintree - security was tight after last year's IRA bomb alert.

But the torrential rain had also turned the going to soft, heavy in places.

That made it only the fifth National since 1977 to have been run on truly soft ground.

[ image: Typical weather for a unique British event]
Typical weather for a unique British event
And it was clearly the biggest obstacle on a course where the distance and the jumps are testing enough in dry conditions.

Pre-race predictions suggested few horses would complete the course, and so it proved. Thirty-seven started the race but only six finished.

Sadly, the race also claimed the lives of three horses. Pashto, Do Rightly and Griffins Bar were put down after heavy falls.

Perfect start

Earth Summit lined up at the tape as the 7-1 favourite. Him of Praise and Samlee were 8-1. Early favourites Suny Bay and Rough Quest drifted out to 10-1 in some frantic betting just before the off.

Neil McKenzie has the story of the race. (1'01")
After all the rain, the sun suddenly shone just as the starter Simon Morrant went to his post. He let them go with little trouble.

The field charged down to the first fence all abreast. Pashto was an immediate casualty as he crashed to the floor.

[ image: Racegoers were warned to get to Aintree early]
Racegoers were warned to get to Aintree early
By fence five a pattern had emerged. Decyborg was making the running with Go Universal and Ciel de Brion in close attention. At this stage Earth Summit was feeling his way.

Greenhil Tare Away then began to make a move up the field. He and Decyborg started to open some space and the two jockeys looked so relaxed they even started to chat.

But the effort proved too much and the rest of the field began to close on the leaders at the end of the first circuit.

The soft ground specialists Ciel de Brion and St Mellion Fairway were making progress.

Suny Bay and Earth Summit, anonymous throughout most of the race, were also pushing forward. And their patient approach was the correct one.

[ image: Millions were bet on the National]
Millions were bet on the National
By the time they reached Becher's Brook for the second time, Suny Bay and Earth Summit looked to be in control.

Four from home, Greenhil Tare Away fell. That left a straight fight between Suny Bay and Earth Summit. As they approached the last, it was a question of stamina.

Earth Summit hit the front with one to jump left and started to stretch his lead. Suny Bay tried to stay with him, but had nothing left in the tank. Jockey Carl Llewellyn took Earth Summit across the line 11 lengths clear.

Full result

3.45 Martell Grand National Handicap Chase (Grade 3) (Class A) - 4m 3f

  1. Earth Summit 7-1f
  2. Suny Bay 11-1
  3. Samlee 8-1
  4. St Mellion Fairway 20-1


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