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Last Updated: Thursday, 1 April, 2004, 15:24 GMT 16:24 UK
Mother of all victories
By Frank Keogh
BBC Sport, Aintree

Amateur jockey Carrie Ford scored a remarkable triumph over the Grand National fences - just 10 weeks after giving birth to a baby daughter.

She won the Martell Cognac Fox Hunters' Steeplechase, known as the Amateurs' Grand National, at Aintree on Forest Gunner, a horse trained by her husband Richard.

Carrie Ford steers Forest Gunner over the last fence
Carrie Ford steers Forest Gunner over the last fence

The new mother was given a raucous welcome as she returned to the winner's enclosure on the 13-2 chance.

She is only the third woman to have won the race, which sees riders negotiate one circuit of the famous National course.

Carrie told BBC Sport she had stopped race riding a year ago, but decided to come out of retirement just two-and-a-half weeks before Aintree.

"It's a dream come true, " said the 32-year-old, who lives in Tarporley, Cheshire.

She gave birth in January to the couple's first child, Hannah, who weighed in at 5lb 10oz.

But the new mother made light work of her achievement in claiming the race so quickly afterwards.

"Adrenaline takes over when you're riding. If that inspires other women, then that's all well and good," she said.

When asked what was easier, childbirth or riding over the National fences, she replied: "Jumping those."

Forest Gunner survived a bad mistake at the second fence to win by eight lengths from Sikander A Azam, with Gun'N Roses II a further seven lengths away in third.

I'm hoping she's going to retire a second time after this!
Trainer Richard Ford on his wife's shock Aintree success

Trainer Richard, 37, had targeted the race for 16 months, and paid tribute to his wife.

"There's nothing you can put into words. I had every confidence in her, and she proved herself fit despite having a little girl 10 weeks earlier," he said.

He confessed to initially being uneasy about Carrie's return to the saddle.

"She's done tremendous to get back and I have to admit that I hoped she would pack in race riding after the baby," said Richard.

"She then rode the horse out and wanted to give it a go - I was not completely happy, but she's worked hard on her fitness."

The win was also good news for owner John Gilsenan, who chose Forest Gunner from two horses in a field when they were aged three.

The other horse was Iris's Gift, who won the opening race at Aintree on Thursday, and is considered a future Cheltenham Gold Cup contender.




WATCH AND LISTEN
Day one highlights from Aintree





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