Amateur jockey Sam Waley-Cohen finished his riding career with a flourish by winning the Randox Grand National on rank outsider Noble Yeats.
It was a fairytale result for jockey Sam Waley-Cohen who had already decided to hang up his riding boots after the race. Noble Yeats started the race as a 50-1 unfancied underdog, but Waley-Cohen aged 39, finished in first place after a race to the line.
The win was made even more special as it was the first time crowds had returned to Aintree since COVID-19, making it the first proper meet in three years.
Noble Yeats is owned by the jockey’s father, Robert Waley-Cohen, and trained by Emmet Mullins. At just seven years old, the horse was a long way outside the favourites but romped home in the finishing straight, pushing Any Second Now, the favourite, down into second place.
It was a slow start for Waley-Cohen as he was second to last, clearing the first fence. However, the National is such a long race, slow and steady can often prove to be a winning strategy - as Noble Yeats proved.
Over the following four and a quarter miles, Noble Yeats managed to steer clear of any trouble - including several loose horses - and slowly worked its way up through the field. In the final dash to the line, Noble Yeats proved to have bags of stamina still in the stable as he went on to win comfortably by three lengths.
With odds at 50/1, there are lots of reasons why Noble Yeats and Waley-Cohen won’t have caught the eye of bookies.
Before this weekend, an amateur jockey hadn't won at Aintree since 1990, and a seven-year-old hadn't claimed victory since 1940. And when you consider the fact that Emmett Mullins had never raced a horse at Aintree before, there were a lot of reasons to find another runner to back.
But Noble Yeats clearly hadn’t read the script - just like female jockey Rachael Blackmore on Minella Times, the shock winner from the 2021 Grand National.
With son and father clasping hands as they celebrated after the win, the result was very clearly an emotional one for all concerned.
The drama of the winner grabbed all the headlines. But there was plenty more to pick through in the rest of the field.
Last year’s winner had been hotly tipped to win back-to-back Grand Nationals but fell at the ninth fence, Valentine's Brook, disappointing the fans. Another strongly backed contender was Snow Leopardess, a mare attempting to be the first mother to take the title, but she was pulled up before the second lap.
The final positions in full were:
1 Noble Yeats
2 Any Second Now
3 Delta Work
6 Longhouse Poet
7 Freewheelin’ Dylan
8 Coko Beach
9 Escaria Ten
10 Romain De Senam
13 Class Conti
In total, there were 15 horses that finished, 11 fallers, 11 that were pulled up, 2 that unseated their rider and 1 that was brought down.