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  Thursday, 4 April, 2002, 18:13 GMT 19:13 UK
Fulfilling an Aintree dream
Gundry on Torduff Express
Gundry rode Torduff Express to glory on Thursday
Polly Gundry tells BBC Sport Online's Frank Keogh how winning the Fox Hunters' Chase at the Grand National meeting had fulfilled a riding dream.

Ecstatic Polly Gundry could barely believe her achievement after becoming only the third woman to win a race over the Grand National fences.

The 26-year-old triumphed in the Fox Hunters' Chase - the 'Amateurs' National' - aboard 8-1 shot Torduff Express on the opening day of the 2002 meeting.

It was her first ride in the race, where one circuit of the National course is negotiated by amateur jockeys, and proved a textbook performance.

After securing a cosy 13-length triumph from Gunner Welburn, Miss Gundry told BBC Sport Online: "It was fab. It just couldn't have been any better."


It is quite a long way ahead of anything else I have done
Polly Gundry
Miss Gundry was following in the Fox Hunters' footsteps of Caroline Beasley, who won on Eliogarty in 1986.

Anthea Farrell was another lady to savour success over the big Aintree obstacles, winning on J-J-Henry in the 1991 John Hughes Memorial Trophy.

Miss Gundry was the ladies point-to-point champion two years ago, but admitted she would find it hard to top this success.

"It is quite a long way ahead of anything else I have done," she said.

"I love winning a point-to-point, and getting any horse to win a race.

"But this is the epitome of what jump racing is about for us amateurs."

Despite the distance between first and second, the rider refused to relax until she was past the finishing post on the 11-year-old horse, who is trained by Paul Nicholls.

"I was frightened to death coming up the home straight that someone would catch me," she said.

"I've hardly dared to think about winning. You are so keen to win, but I almost convinced myself I couldn't so I wouldn't be disappointed."

Faultless performance

Miss Gundry, who won at the same meeting two years ago on Lakefield Rambler in a hunters' chase on the Mildmay course, flew back for the Fox Hunters' from America where she had ridden in an event over timber.

"I was far more worried riding over upright timber than these fences," she admitted.

Of Torduff Express, she added: "He never put a foot wrong, his nose didn't go down at all.

"It's as if he had been designed to jump these fences."

As Miss Gundry prepared for a big night out to celebrate, there was disappointment for Caroline Bailey, who trains the runner-up Gunner Welburn.

He only ran in the Fox Hunters' after missing the cut for the over-subscribed Grand National by one.

Twelve women have ridden in the Grand National, with 51-year-old Rosemary Henderson's fifth on Fiddlers Pike in 1994 the highest-placed finish.

The world's most famous steeplechase

Bindaree's triumph

Our man at Aintree

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