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Aintree, 4 April, 2009

JOHN SMITH'S GRAND NATIONAL, Aintree: Saturday 4 April, 1615 BST


By Oliver Brett


Text 81111 (with "RACING" as the first word), e-mail with "for Oliver Brett" in subject field or use 606 . (Not all contributions can be used)

1715: There are a couple more races at Aintree today, but we'll call this a wrap. Hope you enjoyed a really extraordinary race.

We'll leave the last comment to RonAndherSonNANI on 606: "Help im stck at work!! i had £4 eachway on mon mone how much will i get back??"

If you are genuine, about £500. There are going to be one or two very excited amateur punters dotted around Britain tonight!

1705: Some desperately sad news. The Irish-trained Hear The Echo collapsed and died after the race.

1655: Just watching a re-run, and it was simply remarkable how Mon Mome finished, absolutely galloping away to win by 12 lengths. He was the favourite for the Welsh National at Christmas by the way. The punters who supported him then went missing today!

Some minor places - Big Fella Thanks 6th, Butler's Cabin 7th, Southern Vic 8th, Snowy Morning 9th, Arteea 10th. Cornish Sett was 17th and last confirmed finisher.

1653: David Johnson, owner of the gallant runner-up Comply or Die: "The weight has caught us out in the end but we are delighted to be second and maybe he'll go down as one of the all-time great horses of Aintree.

"He's a bit exhausted after the race so he'll have to have a few buckets of water to cool him down."

Andy Stewart, owner of My Will: "It's great for the sport to have 100-1 winner and I'm delighted for Venetia. Ruby [Walsh] thought [My Will] was going terribly well two out but the others went by him. He'll probably have a bit of a break and I'd like to come back next year."

1651: Here is the full result:

1. Mon Mome (Liam Treadwell) 100-1
2. Comply Or Die (Timmy Murphy) 14-1
3. My Will (Ruby Walsh) 8-1
4. State of Play (Paul Moloney) 14-1

Cerium was fifth at 100-1 (some bookmakers pay out) while Butler's Cabin, who started the 7-1 clear favourite, finished seventh. He required medical attention afterwards but is reported to have recovered.

1640: BBC betting guru Gary Wiltshire: "I've got the formbook and I've torn it up. How could it win at 100-1? All the bookmakers are booking their summer holidays."

More from Venetia Williams: "I'm so proud of the horse and so proud of everybody in the yard. It's all a team effort, I know it sounds a cliche but it's true. They get up in filthy conditions and in all weather to muck out. Betting's irrelevant to me, I have no idea if anybody in the yard had a bet."

1637: Venetia Williams: "How can you ever expect that in a race like this?" Liam Treadwell: "He's so genuine but it hasn't really sunk in. I had a quick look round but I wasn't going to sit up looking pretty at that stage."

1635: As an amateur rider, Venetia Williams broke her neck riding in the National, and had to give up a career as a jockey. What a consolation this is!

1633: Hear The Echo looks badly injured, and there's some doubts about the well-being of Butler's Cabin.

1630: Mon Mome wins at 100-1, the biggest-priced winner since Foinavon in 1967, and the first winner trained by a woman (Venetia Williams) since the days of Jenny Pitman. The winning jockey is Liam Treadwell, who sounds shell-shocked. The horse came 10th in this last year, and carried 11 stone this year - it was 23-year-old Treadwell's first ride in the race. The bookies have made a fortune.

1629: Mon Mome comes from nowhere to win by miles! Comply or Die second, My Will third, State of Play fourth.

1627: Comply or Die is making a tremendous bid to win back-to-back Nationals.

1627: My Will is sixth, Butler's Cabin about ninth.

1626: Rambling Minster is pulled up! Comply or Die is doing very nicely indeed. Black Apalachi, Silver Birch and Parsons Legacy have fallen.

1625: Cloudy Lane falls at The Chair, Zabenz at the following fence. Eurotrek is pulled up. Can't call them all!

1624: Black Apalachi is still at the head of affairs coming to the 13th.

1622: The 2007 winner Silver Birch is travelling very smoothly.

1621: Black Apalachi, Irish Invader are doing well. Stan is a faller. Chelsea Harbour and Ollie Magern are also among the casualties.

FIRST FENCE Himalayan Trail and Golden Flight fall.

1619: They're off now!

1618: Oh no! A second failed start. Davy Russell was charging for the start there on Hear the Echo and ducked under the tape. Will it be third time lucky?

1617: Almost shades of 1993 and Esha Ness there. We had an almighty gallop, but the starter roared: "NO!" So they're coming back, pretty sedately.


1615: Rishi Persad on BBC1 says all 40 runners are "pretty much under control". And who's to argue? Perfect weather.

1613: We're very close to the off, and Butler's Cabin, who is on his toes at the start - just sweating up a tiny bit but that's because it's pretty warm - is currently clear favourite.

1611: "After an odd dream about laurel & hardy last night I found out today there are two backmarkers called Stan & Ollie... definitely worth a couple of quid me thinks!"
Wrex_PCR on 606

Ah - you're the reason bookmakers make money, Wrex. Only joking - best of luck!

1606: Here's some football half-time scores: Arsenal 1-0 Man City, Bolton 2-1 Middlesbrough, Hull City 0-0 Portsmouth, Newcastle 0-0 Chelsea, West Brom 0-1 Stoke, West Ham 1-0 Sunderland. And the horses are parading now. Proper tension.

1603: The market is more confusing than a Marcel Proust novel. But I think I can safely say My Will won't start favourite. It's between Butler's Cabin and Rambling Minster, who has been quietly fancied by many in the know all week.

1600: State of Play's trainer Evan Williams carries the hopes of plenty of Welsh punters: "The nerves have gone now, all the worrying is done. Time for the horse to do his thing now."

1557: Paul Nicholls, who trains four in this - and is still looking for his first winner - is buttonholed by Clare Balding in the paddock. Crikey, even he's a nervous wreck. AP McCoy, by contrast with everyone else, looks pretty cool.

1554: We've got co-favourites of three right now - punters who want McCoy have got the value they were after, so Butler's Cabin, Rambling Minster and My Will join forces at the top of the market.

1550: There hasn't been much about last year's winner Comply or Die, so here's an interesting word from his owner David Johnson: "He's very well in himself, Eileen the lass says he's as well as he was last year. Red Rum had the dream of winning it twice, it's probably an impossible dream, but we hope."

1547: Former winner Mick Fitzgerald is in the jockeys' dressing room at the moment, passing the microphone from one nervous-looking rider to another. Even Ruby Walsh may sound cool, but he looks like he's about to see his headmaster for a possible caning.

1542: The tips are coming in thick and fast now: "I'm backing Cornish Sett. Has all of the attributes needed to win the National and Nicholls is too good a trainer not to have a winner one day."
GooGooGooJoob on 606

His best form includes a second in the Welsh National, good value bet.

1539: "Do you think that £5 each way on both brooklyn brownie + irish invader is a good bet."
James, N Ireland, by text

Neither is without a chance if it all goes according to a plan. Good luck!

1537: People are trying to help Violet out, see below. But I can't suggest an illegal web stream, I'm afraid, nor can I recommend our own - which only works within the UK.

1533: Did I catch anyone out? Tony McCoy, who rides Butler's Cabin in the Grand National (off at 1615, remember), has a very tidy winner in the 1525, a 3m handicap chase, on Don't Push It. "If I could ride another winner for JP McManus in 45 minutes time I'll be happy," says McCoy.

1531: McCoy wins!

1522: An urgent, somewhat desperate-sounding text from Violet: "I am currently in Austria and am desperately trying to find out if I can watch the race out here. Is there either an internet site or channel that will sh ow it out here?"

I am afraid I am stumped, Violet. Although I did accidentally watch the Boat Race in Spain one year. They might show it, after all it goes to 400m people worldwide.

1519: Some dramatic news from the top of the market: support for Butler's Cabin is dwindling, leaving My Will clear favourite, and it looks like Rambling Minster might start second favourite.

1517: Andrew Lloyd-Webber, whose wife owns Darkness - one to be heavily backed today - reveals he first met Lady Lloyd-Webber when she rode in an amateurs' race at the course. Madeleine (for that is her Christian name) adds: "I think the jockeys will be having a bit of a fluttery stomach right now, They're worried about making a fool out of themselves."

1504: An e-mail from Tom: "I have put a £5 bet on Chelsea Harbour each way at 80-1, what do you think of his chances? And I put a cheeky £2 on Cerium each way. Yes he is 500-1 but this is the Grand National and nothing is predictable."

Trust me, Tom, you can kiss goodbye to the Cerium bet. Chelsea Harbour is currently trading at 200-1 on Betfair. Not a bad horse, but far too much weight I think.

1459: The second most valuable race of the day, a grade 1 hurdle, goes to Irish raider Solwhit, with Davy Russell on board. He rides Hear The Echo in big one. "It's a good ride," he says, succinctly enough. Solwhit's now 12-1 for next year's Champion Hurdle (he skipped Cheltenham altogether this year, I think)

1456: An anonymous texter: "Just put on an interesting flutter. JP McManus to own any winner at 5/1. Only problem is I don't know what horses he owns. Oh dear. Can u help Oliver?"

JP owns four: Butler's Cabin, Can't Buy Time, Reveillez and L'Ami. Not a bad little bet, that. And he'll earn half a million big ones if one of them wins!

1447: Nice BBC1 feature on the strongly-fancied Rambling Minster: "I read the racing press every day. He's third, fourth favourite and I can't believe it," says jockey James Reveley. Dad Keith, who trains him, says: "He's 11 years old but for some reason this season everything's clicked. At Haydock the other week he found a lovely rhythm. He's got a tick in every box."

1440: Just seen a replay of Graham Lee's fall at Wetherby on Tuesday. He bounced off the horse's head, was bucked to the ground, and then got trampled by its hind legs. Lee is made of tough stuff.

1438: The last race started more than 10 minutes late (one horse lost a shoe, another refused to start) so it may be that the National (due off at 1615) is slightly delayed.

1435: Black Apalachi has been strongly supported in the betting exchanges today, and there's confirmation of a bet of £3,000 for the 10-year-old on course just now. There'll be no 14-1 available any more, says BBC betting pundit Gary Wiltshire, who is steadily working himself into a lather of tense excitement. Cool your boots Gary, still more than an hour and a half to go.

1431: Tony McCoy fell in the last race, but he's up on his feet none the worse for wear.

1427: Just as I was mentioning Graham Lee, he only goes and wins the Maghull Novices' Chase on Kalahari King, beating Ruby Walsh on the favourite Tatenen. Lee says: "Delighted for the horse, he's a little star. I tried my best to be here. Luckily I am."

1421: Important news for Kilbeggan Blade fans: Graham Lee has been cleared by Aintree's medical staff and will be able to ride the horse after bouncing back from shoulder and neck injuries sustained in a fall at Wetherby last week. Sadly, Darkness backers can only gnash their teeth. Wayne Hutchinson's a good substitute but the original jockey, Dominic Elsworth - who had an excellent winner yesterday despite a blow to the arm - has lost the ride.

1415: A text message we can all sympathise with: "I'm stuck discussing wedding flowers... Please think of me at the off!"
James, Peterborough

1410: Ah there's nothing like a bit of nostalgia. Wonder if you are seeing the Red Rum 1977 re-run now on BBC1, complete with period music, footage of Concorde and Virginia Wade. I was four - my first blurry memory of the race. He was 9-1 that year, having already won it twice you know. Printing money... Ginger McCain has aged very well you know.

1403: A quick interview on BBC1 with two very young jockeys. Paul Townend, on the useful Irish Invader, is only 18 and says Ruby Walsh has given him "a word of wisdom" about how to steer a horse around Aintree. Emmet Mullins is on Chelsea Harbour who, he says "ran a cracker last year, I think he finished ninth... the main thing is to switch him off and get him into a rhythm."

1400: Good to see the e-mails rolling in: "I don't think Irish race fans will be impressed: the song title is The Fields of Athenry. An Irish folk ballad set during the Great Irish Famine about a fictional man from near Athenry in County Galway who has been sentenced to transportation to Botany Bay, Australia, for stealing food for his starving family."

Thanks, Peter (who sent that in). Oh, and Joanne - who wants to know the music the BBC uses for the closing Grand National credits - I have dug up this answer from a Q&A about Grandstand music in 2004: Theme from Champions. Composer: Davis. Publisher: Sundergrade Music. Performer: The Philharmonica Orchestra. Label: Island Records.

1352: The New Cescy on 606 wants to know whether one should back two horses or stick to one in the National. My advice - if you can't choose between the two, back both. If one is very much second choice, disregard it.

1349: The winner of the first race of the day is Bouggler at 16-1, with Noel Fehily on board. He rides one of the AP McCoy rejects, Can't Buy Time, in the big one.

1340: Ads in Longparish has sent a very authoritative text message: "People can put all the money they want on Rambling Minster. He's too old and probably wants more give. Kilbeggan Blade to nick it."

1339: We've just had a replay of the "people's race" - where members of the public enter a ballot to get a ride in a 1m 1f flat race. Congratulations to 25-year-old David Griffiths, from Droitwich, who has raised £100,000 for the Injured Jockeys Fund and the County Air Ambulance with his winning ride on Mith Hill.

1335: Here's cowboymartin on the 606 thread: "A few years ago all the jockeys were sat in the Dressing Room and the BBC recorded them singing The Fields of Athan Rye. I'd love to see it again if at all possible. On another note, Golden Flight will win today."

(Good luck with your selection - not for me but he's a very attractive price. I heard a version of The Fields of Athan Rye converted into The Fields of Anfield Road on the radio this morning, I think it's a charity fundraiser for the 20th anniversary of the Hillsbrough disaster).

1330: Ruby Walsh has won this race twice, and here he is on BBC1: " My Will has plenty of weight but he ran a cracking run in the Gold Cup, the other options were Snowy Morning, but he's got 11st 8lbs, Southern Vic but it's too dry, and Big Fella Thanks who was a little bit inexperienced. You can only ride one. If I didn't get nervous I'd be in the wrong game, it's nervous energy - you have to channel it the right way."

1320: The BBC's new betting expert, who is forming an entertaining double act with local boy John Parrott, is Gary Wiltshire, and he reckons McCoy's mount Butler's Cabin will start as the "jolly" (favourite). That's a big call. But it's either going to be him or My Will, you'd have thought.

1318: Aha - here's our first 606 contributor, called The New Cescy or something: "I put £20 on Rambling Minister to win; almost certainly has the stamina for this longer distance, ­having won the Borders National at Kelso over four miles last season. Another plus is that Rambling Minster has never fallen.... In the money?"

(Not sure, Cescy, but I love the semi-colon, almost as out-of-fashion as winkle-pickers. But yeah, plenty of positives about the Minster)

1315: I'm thinking some of you have just got back from the bookies, faithfully clutching your betting slip. Time to grab a sandwich and pull up a chair - there's only three hours to go before the off and plenty of interviews from all the big names to come. But if you STILL haven't a clue what to back, and were in the pub when the office sweepstake went round yesterday, check out our runners and riders guide on the website. Grand National runners and riders in full

1310: Another quick update from the market, though remember the fluctuations will be impossible to monitor all the time. My selection, Darkness, is being really well backed among the outsiders - you'll struggle to get 20-1 right now if you still fancy Charlie Egerton's horse - while Welsh-trained State of Play is much less popular and is drifting.

1307: We reckon around 70,000 people will be at the Liverpool racecourse today. And a word from the bookies - William Hill predict up to half the adult population across Britain will have a wager today, while Totesport estimates they will look recession in the eye and laugh at it, by staking around £400m in all.

1302: With Aintree coverage just starting up on BBC1 - brought to you by Clare Balding (and also streamed on this website) - now is an opportune time to invite you to get involved, whether by e-mail to or on 606 - or by text to 81111.

1255: A very warm welcome to the 162nd Grand National, where glorious sunny skies await the crowds arriving at Aintree. However, with all the watering during a very dry week, and a heavy overnight shower, the going is officially good to soft, good in places.

The mere mention of the word "soft" will gladden the heart of Southern Vic's supporters. That horse was overlooked by Ruby Walsh, who instead goes for My Will.

There's been plenty of support for Rambling Minster this morning, trained in the north-east by Keith Reveley, with his 20-year-old son James - in excellent form this season - on board.

And here's jockey Tony McCoy on BBC1 just now: "You've got one chance each year and you need all the luck. You have to believe you have a chance or there's no point competing." He's on Butler's Cabin, right up there at the top of the betting, and is still looking for his first National success despite more than 3,000 winners across less famous races.

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see also
Mon Mome seals shock National win
04 Apr 09 |  Horse Racing
Mystique returns to greatest race
05 Apr 09 |  Horse Racing
Grand National photos
04 Apr 09 |  Horse Racing
Where they finished at Aintree
04 Apr 09 |  Horse Racing

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