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Page last updated at 10:41 GMT, Sunday, 5 April 2009 11:41 UK

Aintree, 4 April, 2009




By Cornelius Lysaght
BBC racing correspondent

Liam Treadwell and Mon Mome

The Grand National regained its most famous reputation in 2009.

At 100-1, Mon Mome and his young jockey Liam Treadwell became the biggest-odds winner of the World's most famous steeplechase since Foinavon in 1967.

So the mystique provided by the lottery nature of the £900,000 race returned after several years of better fancied horses generally taking the prize.

This has to be a plus because the Grand National is not just a horse race, it is "the National", the result of which millions want to try to predict, but know they are up against it.

In fact, bookmakers tell me that you could hear a pin drop in most of their shops as punters turned to each other asking "Mon who"?

With betting turnover 42 years ago so much lower, this victory made it the best day ever for the bookies. Despite the recession, an estimated £250m was gambled.

The bare facts are that Mon Mome, who had carried owner Vida Bingham's silks into 10th place in 2008 and so was probably over-priced, was one of a large number still with a chance entering the closing stages. But he won comprehensively.

606: DEBATE
Grahame1971
And in terms of the traditional Grand National fairytale, the team around him came straight out of the top drawer.

Treadwell, in the big race line-up for the first time, spoke of being bought a mechanical horse as a teenager, videoing the Grand National and riding his machine alongside, trying to win the famous race in his Sussex bedroom.

Winning trainer Venetia Williams, based in picturesque stables close to the river Wye in Herefordshire, became only the second woman (after Jenny Pitman) to send out the winner of the big race.

As a jockey, Williams had a ride in the 1988 National, and fell heavily enough at Becher's Brook to be knocked out and taken to hospital. In 2009, what memory there was of the incident was certainly erased.

The 162nd running will go down as a joyful celebration of what the Grand National is meant to be all about

Cornelius Lysaght
What else is there to take out of this year's race? The authorities who insisted the standard of runner had to improve have been well rewarded.

Fewer fallers meant more than three-quarters of the 40-strong field set out on the final circuit, and a significant proportion of them actually finished, all of which provided a great spectacle.

Behind Mon Mome, Comply Or Die, the winner in 2008, demonstrated he is a real "Aintree type" when finishing a heroic runner-up, while jockey Ruby Walsh's mastery of the famous fences was again shown as he steered My Will around in third spot despite the horse making jumping mistakes.

Not all was good however. The two false starts, although now as much a part of Aintree as The Chair and Becher's, were embarrassing, though it remains unclear quite what the solution is.

And clearly the death of Hear The Echo, who collapsed on the run from the last fence, left a sad mark.

However, on the whole, the 162nd running will go down as a joyful celebration of what the Grand National is meant to be all about.



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see also
BBC racing coverage
09 Apr 11 |  Horse Racing
Griffiths wins the People's Race
04 Apr 09 |  Horse Racing
Ladies' Day photos
03 Apr 09 |  Horse Racing
Comply Or Die wins Grand National
05 Apr 08 |  Horse Racing


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