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Page last updated at 15:31 GMT, Saturday, 9 April 2011 16:31 UK

Grand National: Ballabriggs powers to National win

By Frank Keogh
BBC Sport at Aintree

Winning jockey Jason Maguire

Watch the closing stages of the 2011 Grand National

Ballabriggs won the 164th running of the Grand National to secure a new chapter in the McCain family's love affair with the famous Aintree marathon.

Trainer Donald McCain is the son of Ginger, whose four victories in the race included a unique treble with Red Rum.

The 14-1 chance Ballabriggs, ridden by Jason Maguire, led for much of the way and held off runner-up Oscar Time under amateur jockey Sam Waley-Cohen by two-and-a-quarter lengths.

Last year's winner Don't Push It was third for Tony McCoy with State of Play fourth, ahead of Niche Market.

For the first time in the race's history, two of the 30 fences were bypassed on the second circuit after horses fell during the first time round. Ornais, who came down at the fourth, and Dooneys Gate, who came down at Becher's Brook, were both fatally injured.

Maguire was given a five-day ban by stewards after the race for excessive use of the whip in the closing stages.

Donald McCain was only a child when record-breaking Red Rum won three Grand Nationals and finished runner-up twice in the 1970s.

Grand National winner Jason Maguire

Maguire 'overwhelmed' to win Grand National

But he has learned from his father and took over the training reins in 2006 when Ginger retired two years after another National triumph with Amberleigh House.

The 10-year-old Ballabriggs had won five of his six races immediately before the National and relished the daunting challenge.

At one stage it looked as though Waley-Cohen, friend of royal bride-to-be Kate Middleton, might be set for victory on a horse owned by his father Robert.

But as Oscar Time came to his side at The Elbow, Maguire pulled out more on his mount as the front two pulled clear, with Don't Push It 12 lengths behind the second.

Maguire said: "This is crazy. I've got to thank Donald, Mr Hemmings, my mother and father, everybody. It's a dream come true.

"After the last I felt like something was coming up behind me and my horse was going a bit low but McCain horses never know when to lie down and he gave everything. But he was very tired after the line."

It was an audacious attempt by Waley-Cohen to pull off a hat-trick of triumphs in big steeplechases this season, having won the King George VI Chase and Cheltenham Gold Cup on Long Run.

"He gave me a fantastic spin. It's been a phenomenal season. I feel incredibly lucky and honoured to be riding in these big races and for it to go so well," he said afterwards.

"The plan was always to come with one smooth run. We knew he had a huge jump in him so I was just trying to get him to pop a little bit and save and not get too keen.

"He did everything I asked of him and the National course is so special. If the horse takes to it it can be the best 10 minutes of your life, and the shortest as well."

For winning jockey Maguire, it was a first National success after he missed out in 2007 when rejecting the chance to ride eventual winner Silver Birch for trainer Gordon Elliott, when staying loyal to McCain's Cloudy Lane.

Champion jockey McCoy, who was bidding for back-to-back wins on Don't Push It, was proud of his own horse's efforts.

"He ran a great race and all credit to the horse. It's very difficult for horses to win back-to-back Nationals," said McCoy.

"He was off the bridle a little bit early and he got a little bit low at a couple of fences late on which was energy-sapping.

"I tried to get him to finish in the best possible position but well done to Jason Maguire, Trevor Hemmings and Donald McCain."

The horse's trainer Jonjo O'Neill was also pleased with the performance.

"He has run a smashing race under that weight," he said. "It is always good to see them come back and run so well the second time but he wasn't quite good enough on this occasion."

The Willie Mullins-trained favourite, The Midnight Club, made a mistake at the third and eventually finished sixth.

Jockey Ruby Walsh said afterwards: "I was lucky to get round, he lost all chance at the third fence, then got very careful.

"I was struggling before we were hampered going towards the final bend, but we just weren't good enough."



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Williams praise for State of Play
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Grand National: Mixed emotions at Aintree
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Grand National 2011: Fence-by-fence analysis
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Where they finished
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Grand National 2011 as it happened
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Grand National photos
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National treasure
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BBC racing coverage
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