Encores All Round

 

Auroras Encore

Auroras Encore

The 2013 Grand National has provided another sensational shock but with good luck happy stories all round. The victory for Auroras Encore, a 66-1 shot who galloped clear on the run-in under jockey Ryan Mania, having his first ride in the famous race, has been hailed as one of the best ever as all forty runners returned safely home. A global television audience of 500 million watched the race.

The winning trainer is Sue Smith, wife of the former show-jumper Harvey, who achieved fame in the 70’s as a bad boy of a sport that then enjoyed much TV coverage. Smith became only the third female in history to train the winner of the Grand National.

Sucked In

Auroras Encore provided a result described by bookmakers as ‘the best in living memory’, and a fairytale for his businessman owners Douglas Pryde and Jim Beaumont, who used to work as a bell boy in the Liverpool Adelphi Hotel. They bought the gelding just before Christmas to have the thrill of a National runner.

For Smith, it was the culmination of a lifetime with horses. “They’ve given me a good life,” he said. “The showjumping was great but I like to look forward and I hope there’s more to come in this game. We started messing around with racehorses about 20 years ago and got sucked into it. And horses keep you young.”

Trained at the Smith’s stables high on the Yorkshire Moors, the 11 year old gelding Auroras Encore took the 166th Grand National in his stride. Ryan Mania, having his first ride in the race, brought the gelding home by nine lengths.

Cappa Bleu (12-1), last year’s fourth, finished strongly to snatch second from the gallant Teaforthree (10-1), who had been in the first three from the start. Oscar Time kept going for fourth, in front of Rare Bob and Swing Bill.

Seabass faded to thirteenth, with Any Currency last of the 17 finishers.

Team Effort

Smith’s wife Sue, 65, holds the licence at their operation, at Craiglands Farm near Bingley, but it is very much a team effort; she in charge of the day-to-day training and entries and he concerned with feeding, management and care of the gallops; he personally laid down more than two miles of all-weather exercise tracks with a surface bound by pig hair. “This is all thanks to him,” said Sue, “he makes everyone work hard. He’s a hard man but it’s what he’s always done and it’s the answer to this job.”

One of Auroras Encore’s best previous performances came in defeat, when he was touched off in last year’s Scottish National nearly a year ago but though he had shown little since, he had been running on soft winter ground and Saturday’s quicker surface made all the difference. For Mania, the result was triumphant vindication of his faith in himself.

The 23-year-old from Galashiels first sat on a Shetland pony at the age of three, but after his career as a jockey stuttered two years ago he left the sport to work as whipper-in on the Fife Hunt for six months. He was lured back by the job with the Smiths. “I enjoyed the hunting,” he said, “but it wasn’t the real thing.”

Approval

There was a roar of approval from the grandstands as the entire field cleared Bechers safely and uniquely, the first exits from the race did not come until the eighth obstacle, the Canal Turn, where Big Fella Thanks, Treacle and The Rainbow Hunter lost their riders. Of the fancied horses, Colbert Station lost Tony McCoy at the Chair and On His Own, beginning to fade, fell at Valentines.

Coming back into sight of the stands, Teaforthree and the 2011 runner-up Oscar Time led a bunch that included the favourite Seabass, travelling strongly, and Auroras Encore. “At the second-last I realised I was probably going to be placed,” said Mania, “then the two in front started to shorten. I couldn’t believe it; I just gave my boy a shove and he quickened away past them. And from there I didn’t dare look round,” he said.

Bizarre

In a bizarre twist to the highs of Saturday, Mania was injured in a fall at Hexham on Sunday and was airlifted to a Newcastle hospital. All eyes were on the jockey at Sunday’s meeting after his breathtaking win, but to the horror of spectators, the 23-year-old was hurled from his horse and suffered head and neck injuries.

Despite the fall, the jockey Tweeted from his hospital bed that he was feeling ‘grand’ but is expected to have to remain in hospital until midweek. Read more: Robyn Louw – National Pride.

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