Thanks for all your input and enjoy the rest of the sporting weekend, with the golf at Augusta obviously a big highlight. I close with the news that Irish trainer Paul Nolan has won the 1700 race on Far Away So Close, and I hope you enjoyed our coverage. Congratulations to the McCain team and Ballabriggs, and condolences to the yards of Paul Nicholls and Willie Mullins. They trained the two horses who died.
BBC1's Mick Fitzgerald:
"I think Jason Maguire is riding really well at the moment and has real potential to be a possible champion jockey of the future. The owner Trevor Hemmings is the nicest man you'll ever meet, just as good in defeat as he is in victory.
BBC1 betting expert Gary Wiltshire:
"I would say it was a good result for the bookies, with Ruby Walsh out of the places as well. But there was certainly a big cheer from round here when Ballabriggs won."
Confirmation now that Ornais and Dooneys Gate did suffer fatal falls in today's race. Our thoughts go out to the connections of those horses.
As well as being a great story for the McCains, there's a narrative behind jockey Jason Maguire's success. He had to pass the doctor on Friday after a bad fall 24 hours earlier and was in danger of missing the ride. Maguire could have ridden the winner, Silver Birch, in the 2007 renewal but stayed loyal to McCain's Idle Talk and might have thought his chance of glory had gone.
In answer to various requests, we are attepting to find out what happened to the two most serious fallers and their jockeys. We are not ignoring the issue, but don't want to assume anything until fully aware of the facts.
E-mail from James Hickey:
"Jason Maguire just swore on national TV after winning the Grand National - surely that's a two-match ban?!" I think they'll let me off as there's a big difference in the circumstances!
Some of the younger ones around probably don't remember Red Rum. He won this race three times in the 1970s for trainer Ginger McCain, who came back in 2004 to win it one last time with Amberleigh House. The legend continues now with Ginger's son Donald winning the race for himself.
There will be plenty of hard-luck stories, and here's Ruby Walsh (The Midnight Club): "I made a bad mistake at the first ditch, he changed his mind at the last minute and he got very careful with his jumping after that. Patrick Mullins had a very bad fall (on Dooneys Gate), I hope he's OK."
Becher's and one other fence were bypased on the second circuit while injured horses were attended to. Ballabriggs's lad says the horse had to be led through with the jockey off his back simply to ensure they could get as much water into the animal as quickly as possible, but he's reported to be fine now.
"You just can't beat the National. Not good to see fences being bypassed for obvious reasons but can't take away from it."
Winning trainer Donald McCain:
"We always genuinely thought he might be an Aintree horse. Things have gone so smoothly all year, he's a joy to deal with."
With about a circuit to go, Ballabriggs, who is trained by Donald McCain (Ginger's son - he was Red Rum's trainer), already looked by far the most comfortable horse in the race. Winning jockey Jason Maguire says: "He was jumping fence-to-fence, I was just trying to get him over the jumps, wanted to keep him in the top 10, but fair play to Donald, who's done a wonderful job."
- 1615 John Smith's Grand National Steeplechase
1. Ballabriggs (Jason Maguire) 14-1
2. Oscar Time (Sam Waley-Cohen) 14-1
3. Don't Push It (Tony McCoy) 9-1
4. State Of Play (Paul Moloney) 28-1
5. Niche Market (Harry Skelton) 16-1
Don't Push It was third, checking for fourth and fifth.
Oscar Time, with Sam Waley-Cohen riding, did his best to reel in the leader, but ended up a few lengths behind.
Ballabriggs wins the Grand National! Jason Maguire the winning jockey for Donald McCain.
Slight error from Oscar Time two out, Ballabriggs still leads with Don't Push It struggling under top weight at The Elbow.
What A Friend is pulled up as they approach the last two fences.
Ballabriggs and Santa's Son make mistakes, but Ballabriggs recovers. Oscar Time has been going very well for a while.
Ballabriggs is galloping and jumping superbly with Killyglen just behind and Niche Market also firmly in contention.
We have a new leader, who is Ballabriggs.
Quinz is pulled up just before The Chair. Don't Push It is still there and going nicely.
Santa's Son is jumping beautifully with Grand Slam Hero the latest faller.
Majestic Concorde is going very nicely alongside Santa's Son in the lead.
Santa's Son, one of the big outsiders, leads over The Canal Turn, with Hello Bud jumping well. Tidal Bay unseats his rider.
Calgary Bay and Ornais both fall at the fourth. Killyglen is well up there, The Midnight Club is in midfield. Dooneys Gate goes at Becher's among others.
That's Rhythm falls at the first, Becauseicouldntsee goes at the second.
The starter is on his roster, and he's been urging the jockeys not to charge before the tapes are up.
BBC Sport's Frank Keogh
on Twitter: "Pick of the parade ring for me inc Bluesea Cracker, Niche Market, Skippers Brig, Oscar Time."
Can't see anything sweating up, or looking like they don't want to be there. West End Rocker is pulling at his bit a little but that won't be a concern. Andrew McNamara has his boots out of his irons to keep as much weight of Bluesea Cracker's back as possible. Looks like we'll start a bit a late. Very odd white bridle on Golden Kite.
Parading in front of the stands before the canter to the start. Majestic Concorde looks tiny, but his trainer Dermot Weld is a name to respect. Big Fella Thanks looks quite lively, will he stay? The Midnight Club, a light, almost chestnut colour, looks very comfortable and happy to be there. Many of these horses have been quite spectacularly well turned out. Great credit to all the lads and lasses who work silly hours for little money.
"I'm hoping one of my nine comes in... Grand Slam hero at 66/1 e/w , come on!" Fair enough to have more than one horse, but nine?
Richard Dunwoody reckons What A Friend is the "pick of the paddock" but tips Niche Market to win.
Legendary owner JP McManus, who finally landed this race last year, is asked to comment on some of the horses he doesn't own: "Tidal Bay, if he adopts well to this course, he could be well handicapped."
Chief Dan George is on his toes, prancing about in the parade ring. Clare Balding has got hold of Ged Mason, who shares ownership of What A Friend with Sir Alex Ferguson: "He is genuine, all the press say he's a bit funny with his head-carriage. I'm just about to text Sir Alex, United are winning at the moment so it's going our way."
With 15 minutes to go until the start, the 40 jockeys pose for the famous pre-race photograph. Plenty of smiles, not too much nerves, though Tony McCoy's piercing focus stands out.
Ballabriggs is "looking well - you can see the stencil mark on his hind-quarters," says Richard Dunwoody. He reckons Don't Push It "looks fit". I'll add this: McCoy's mount looks completely chilled out, and that will help him. In this heat you don't want your horse to get too anxious at the start.
"Bet placed. Money on Oscar Time, go for it Sam Waley-Cohen. Fab build up as ever by #bbcgrandnational - always a spectacle."
Comply or Die's jockey Timmy Murphy:
"He's in great form, got a great weight, loves the ground and he comes to life round here."
On course, The Midnight Club is right down to 15-2. "It's the jungle, the betting jungle," says Gary Wiltshire. He notes that Comply Or Die has been well backed, and so it has! Right in to 25-1.
"The British Women's rowing team are going to huddle around a laptop to watch online whilst on training camp in Italy!
We haven't mentioned Quinz much, but this is a winner of the Racing Post who is well treated in the weights and has a fine jockey in the shape of Richard Johnson. The horse I didn't back after telling everyone how good it was is Ballabriggs, for the McCain team. I now almost want something to beat it!
"Can you imagine if they handicapped Usain Bolt? Gave him a man purse and a couple of kilos to carry while he did it!"
Comply Or Die, who won the race in 2008, is being trailed by a BBC crew. He hasn't got the blinkers on yet. Adrian Maguire, once known as a top-class jockey, is putting in some last-minute work on Golden Kite. He looks thrilled to be here with his first National entry.
It's high time to check the latest market moves for the Grand National which is, of course, our next race. The Midnight Club looks like a cosy favourite, with Silver By Nature about 12-1 on the betting exchanges following plenty of big bets today. Don't Push It is about 14-1 with Oscar Time, What A Friend and Quinz also attracting consistent support.
Nice win for Paul Gallagher on the Howard Johnson eight-year-old. The horse just kept on fighting, beating off the challengers one by one. Paul's had a good week and partners Royal Rosa in the big one.
- 1525 John Smith's Handicap Steeplechase
1. Prince De Beauchene (Paul Gallagher) 10-1
2. Categorical (James Reveley) 20-1
3. Reve De Sivola (Daryl Jacob) 7-1
Prince de Beauchene wins.
Bensalem unseats his rider; Reve de Sivola fights out the finish with Prince de Beauchene.
Big error from Rare Bob may have cost his chances. Prince de Beauchene looks to be the one to beat.
Carrickmines falls, jockey Paddy Brennan looks fine however. All three jockeys who fell have National rides but we think they'll be OK.
Bensalem, one of the fancies, is lacking fluency while Saphir des Bois takes the lead. We think Sam Twiston-Davies is fine.
Take The Breeze is brought down by a faller, Crescent Island. Ruby Walsh is walking away, not sure about Sam Twiston-Davies yet. Horses are fine.
They're off in the John Smith's Handicap Chase over three miles. Last one before the National!
"I have bet on Character Building... Only female rider... Girl Power!" Good for you. Remember Katie Walsh, who has just been handed a six-day ban for excessive use of the whip, would have had her first ride in this but unfortunately Our Monty developed a leg infection on Wednesday and was withdrawn.
Clare Balding on BBC1:
"If either Don't Push It or Character Building win, what a story that would make, real front page news stuff."
Tony McCoy (Don't Push It):
"Arbor Supreme is one that will like the ground and he has the ability. Don't Push It - there's a lot of stats against him but statistics are there to be broken. [On Binocular] No excuses, he jumped pretty slick but didn't finish his race the way you'd want."
Nina Carberry (Character Bulding):
"He just ran out of juice towards the end last year. Hopefully just get him round, that's the main thing and then see how we go towards the end, hopefully we'll be close enough."
"Even if you don't have money on a horse at Aintree, John Hunt's commentary on @bbc5live still gives you goosebumps. Got lots of good reviews for John Hunt's commentary during Cheltenham too!
From Shirley in Warrington:
"Sunshine and bets, horses galore, you all make it special, What A Friend you are."
Don't want to get too deep into this, but Chief Dan George is trained in Cartmel by a Scotsman (thanks to the e-mail from Snoussi).
Ex-Inter Milan and Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez:
"I have no idea about racehorses, I prefer dressage normally but it's amazing seeing the horses and seeing the quality. I will be supporting someone, I will not say who. My daughter is in charge of the betting. The weather is like in Spain."
E-mail from Wayne in Usk:
"I've just realised that I've organised the office sweepstake with last year's horses! Any advice? Apart from pocketing all the cash and running, you could simply attribute each horse's number to the current list. Good luck!
Brilliant ride from Ruby Walsh's sister Katie but she couldn't quite collar the winner at the end, and it's a remarkable treble for Henderson and Geraghty. Although Geraghty's National mount Or Noir De Somoza is a big outsider you wouldn't want to rule him out completely.
- 1450 John Smith's Dick Francis Aintree Hurdle
1. Oscar Whisky (Barry Geraghty) 6-1 Fav
2. Thousand Stars (Katie Walsh) 16-1
3. Salden Licht (Robert Thornton) 25-1
The Henderson second string, Oscar Whisky, just holds on from the fast-finishing grey Thousand Stars.
Oscar Whisky will try to make it a real test of stamina as he pushes them along now while Salden Licht is making a play.
Celestial Halo still making the pace, Oscar Whisky bowling along in second. Plenty have chances.
The Paul Nicholls horse, Celestial Halo, makes the pace with Binocular about fifth and Peddlers Cross travelling nicely in third.
They're off in the Aintree Hurdle.
Just to clarify. I have mentioned two Scottish-trained National entries and let's not forget there is a third: Chief Dan George. Good to see all this interest from north of the border.
Our next and third race (the Grand National is the fifth and starts at 1615) is the John Smith's Aintree Hurdle. We've got Binocular in it, a mercurial horse with a somewhat controversial history, but Peddlers Cross will be tough to beat. Ladbrokes have taken a punt of £80,000 on this one to win!
From James, Vienna:
"I'm not superstitious, but I've had a vivid dream that number 36 won this year's Grand National! Should I bet my house on it?" I wouldn't bet your house on it, but put it this way: even a small wager on Ornais might allow you to BUY a house if this big outsider wins.
"How can @BarryJGeraghty only pick up a spare in #BBCGrandNational? Legend."
BBC Sport's Frank Keogh
on Twitter: "Forty Grand National runners have been read to Honest Junior (female, 20 months). She cuddled phone for Niche Market."
BBC Sport racing correspondent Cornelius Lysaght
on Twitter: "Jockey Peter Toole taken straight to hospital after fall in Maghull Nov Ch from Classic Fly; briefly unconscious." We wish the horse and jockey well. Toole has no National ride, by the way.
Remember there's another Scottish horse to follow in the National, and that's Silver By Nature. He's a grey which is always popular for once-a-year punters (easy to spot) and is currently second favourite. In my opinion this very fast ground wouldn't be ideal for him, but what do I know?
Scottish trainer James Motherway
is trying to get Bluesea Cracker to be the first mare to win this in 60 years. He says: "I suppose maybe geldings are better equipped being the boys in the game. But my one stays, she jumps, she can take a bump and she can give as good as she gets. On the gallops she messes about a bit, so I'll be telling James McNamara 'For God's sake don't let her go to the front too soon.' "
Two in two for trainer Nicky Henderson, but he's not someone you associate with the Grand National and he doesn't have a runner in the big race today. He could have a treble to celebrate instead, because Binocular will get plenty of support in the next race.
- 1415 John Smith's Maghull Novices' Steeplechase
1. Finian's Rainbow (Barry Geraghty) 10-11 Fav
2. Ghizao (Ruby Walsh) 3-1
3. Dan Breen (Jason Maguire) 8-1
Barry Geraghty collects a double for Nicky Henderson as Finian's Rainbow, despite appearing to run out of pace in the latter stages, takes advantage of some poor jumping from Ghizao.
Ghizao and Finian's Rainbow are disputing the lead three from home.
Heavy fall at the first for Classic Fly. Finian's Rainbow going very nicely.
They're off in the John Smith's Maghull Novices' Steeplechase.
E-mail from Jenny Hill & Margoe Hammon, Pembroke West Wales:
"My cousin and I were delighted to see
the clip of the 1911 winner Glenside reported on by Richard Pitman.
Our grandfather Dick Beynon bred Glenside. He sold the horse to Sir Ivor Anthony. It was trained at Lawrenny Pembrokeshire along with national winners Kirkland and Music Hall. I am led to understand that they built a replica of the National course at Lawrenny where they trained the horses. We have pictures somewhere of Glenside who I believe only had one eye! Thank you for making our day - we were fortunate enough to tape the recording for family members to see later."
Huge boo from the Scousers at Aintree when the BBC's Dan Walker asks a selection of spectators whether anyone's booing Sir Alex Ferguson's What A Friend.
Jockey Daryl Jacob (What A Friend):
"I haven't spoken to Sir Alex Ferguson since the Gold Cup, but he was delighted after the Gold Cup when he came fourth and it's very good of him keeping me on the horse. He seems in really good form at the moment."
Jockey Hadden Frost (Calgary Bay):
"He's big, quite classy touch wood. He's a good jumper and hopefully he's the right sort."
E-mail from James:
"I've put a couple of pounds on Becauseicouldn'tsee for my girlfriend. She poked herself in the eye and is now wearing an eyepatch, It's fate."
Oscar Time jockey Sam Waley-Cohen on BBC1:
"Racing really is an amateur sport for me. One of the big things for me is when I go into a race like this is that I'm fit as can possibly be. This is such a dream race. The horse has to have so much courage but there has to be a unity between man and beast. You could have Cheryl Cole streaking and you wouldn't even notice."
"Calgary Bay for the Grand National. Jockey's form has been patchy recently but I think we are in for a bit of surprise." That one's about 40-1 in places. Probably fair to say trainer Henrietta Kinght has also been "patchy" but both BBC Sport's Frank Keogh and Jennie Pitman like Calgary Bay too...
- 1345 John Smith's Mersey Novices' Hurdle
1. Spirit Son (Barry Geraghty) 3-1
2. Cue Card (Joe Tizzard) 5-2 Fav
3. Rock On Ruby (Daryl Jacob) 9-2
Spirit Son wins the first race under Barry Geraghty for trainer Nicky Henderson. Geraghty will partner outsider Or Noir De Somoza in the big race while Brian Hughes, the jockey who fell, is walking away without ill effect. He's on Tidal Bay in the National.
Drive Time is a a heavy faller three flights out...
If you want to send a tweet I'll check anything with a #bbcgrandnational hashtag. Thanks!
They're off in the John Smith's Mersey Novices' Hurdle.
David from London:
"My first Grand National winner was Highland Wedding in 1969. l was 14. My aunt's daughter was married the same day. I started watching the race when Jay Trump won 1965."
With the runners for the first race (1345) on their way down to the start, a quick look at the betting market shows The Midnight Club is a clear favourite now, with Silver By Nature next best in the betting and Oscar Time third. McCoy's Don't Push It is being pushed down the market.
BBC Sport's Frank Keogh
on Twitter: " 'It was nice to be out there and not be scared' says dual National winner Carl Llewellyn after second in veterans charity race."
Super exchange between BBC Sport's Rishi Persad and jockey Robert Thornton (West End Rocker's jockey). Rishi was under the impression that "Choc" Thornton had cut his long, flowing locks for charity. "No," says Choc. "It's 'cos I'm a Dad now and I've grown up, and besides my daughter doesn't know which one's mummy."
Tony McCoy is on BBC1, sitting on his sofa chatting to Clare Balding. What a lovely house he has. The interview was, of course, pre-recorded and a very good one it is too. Meanwhile, have you been through
Frank Keogh's runners and riders
yet? Have you organised a
Or have you already done all that and fancy reading Frank's
excellent interview with Sam Waley-Cohen
- the fantastic amateur jockey who rides the fancied Oscar Time today?
Tony McCoy reflecting on last year's win:
"It's quite sad in a way, because it's gone now. It's unbelievable how happy people were, I'm not sure how happy I'd be for someone else. I didn't want to be someone who had ridden all them winners and not won the Grand National."
If you don't mind, I'd love you lot to send me a tweet, a text or an e-mail to tell me who you're backing and your crazy thinking behind your selection. I'm backing a big outsider this year, Vic Venturi,
though it's nothing to do with the fact that if you spell its name slightly differently on an internet search you get pointed to information about an exotic, er... actress.
BBC1 betting expert Gary Wiltshire:
"What a lovely day, the atmosphere is tremendous. The bookies lost a fortune last year, millions, let's hope it happens again this year. I've just spoken to all the heads of the bookmakers and they say all sorts of horses are being backed today. I've got a funny feeling What A Friend,
Sir Alex Ferguson's horse, might start favourite. I think a lot of people might back him just before the off. Big Fella Thanks
at 16-1 is a fair price, could go off at less. When you have a bet make sure you ask your friendly bookie for a price!"
If you're going to have a single bet all year, this is the one. So who have you gone for? After yesterday's emotional plunge on Tony McCoy to repeat last year's success on this year's top weight Don't Push It, plenty of realists have today put their cash on the earlier favourite, The Midnight Club, ridden by Ruby Walsh and the best of the Irish contingent. Meanwhile, the real "gamble" of the day is on Silver By Nature, as noted by Cornelius Lysaght below. He's bidding to be the first Scottish horse to win since Rubstic (1979) and the first grey to do it since 1961 (Nicolaus Silver).
BBC Sport's Frank Keogh at Aintree:
"As a sell-out crowd of racegoers basked in sunshine on a glorious Grand National day at Aintree I walked to the winning line, and spied the grave of the great triple winner Red Rum. That iconic fence, The Chair, could be seen in the background and the memories of this great sporting day flooded back as Bob Champion, back in the Aldaniti colours, recalled that famous day when he won 30 years ago after beating cancer. I thought of my late father who wrote a song The Taaffe Boys of Rathcoole centred on jockey Pat Taaffe's 1955 National win on Quare Times which gave legendary Irish trainer Vincent O'Brien a third straight victory with three different horses, and I welled up a bit, I have to admit. So many memories, so many stories. Whose tear-jerking tale will be told after the 30 fences and four-and-a-half miles are negotiated this afternoon?"
As we coincide our text coverage with live TV on BBC1 and streamed video across this website within the UK,
I can still recall the seven-year-old me living every leap as Charlie Fenwick guided Ben Nevis to the finish line ahead of the only other three finishers in the 1980 mudbath of a race. It was not so easy to replicate that success: it took me 22 years to find another winner (Bindaree).
You always remember the first time. First day at school, first kiss, first pint. How fond are your memories of your first Grand National winner?