Auroras Encore won the National in fine style yesterday – seemingly full of running on Aintree’s long run-in, as he easily pulled clear of his pursuers to win by a comfortable margin.
It was one of those victories that leaves us value-seeking National punters thinking “why not?” when you look at the horse’s credentials. Nevertheless, Auroras Encore had been generally overlooked by punters following a disappointing number of recent runs, which were fully reflected in his 66-1 starting price.
But go a little further back and the horse had finished a very close runner-up to Merigo in the Scottish National just a year ago.
He was also very lowly-weighted with just 10-03 - and clearly lapped up the fast-drying ground at Aintree.
The 11-year-old gelding, trained by Sue Smith, wife of Olympic show-jumper Harvey, and
ridden by 23 year-old Ryan Mania won by nine lengths from Cappa Bleu (12-1) in second, Teaforthree (10-1) third, with 2011 runner-up Oscar Time (66-1) finishing fourth.
Scottish jockey Ryan Mania was having his first ever ride in the National – whilst trainer Sue Smith become the third woman in the race’s history to train the winner – follow in the footsteps of Jenny Pitman and Venetia Williams.
Yet again, the world’s greatest horse race didn’t let us down in providing thrills and spills and excitement – nor in surprising us with the result. The race was particularly notable for the number of horses staying on their feet. In fact, this was the first time in the race's long history that every horse was still in contention at the Canal Turn on the first circuit. Better yet; all horses and riders returned safely.