Mullins And Townend Give It Max

I Am Maximus got the better of Delta Work to bag the Randox Grand National Handicap Chase for in-form combination, Paul Townend and Willie Mullins, at Aintree on Saturday.

Rachael Blackmore was in third on Minella Indo; Defending champion Corach Rambler fell at the first fence.

Paul Townend and I Am Maximus are big winners at Aintree on Saturday (Pic – HRI)

Speaking to ITV, I Am Maximus’ trainer Willie Mullins said : “I was more confident looking at Paul’s [Townend] body language. I thought he was a little bit far back and he was rubbing the fences but Paul’s body language told me he’s happy. Aintree is the first race you see, it’s the first race everyone in racing wants to see. Fantastic stuff, you just couldn’t make it up.”

I Am Maximus was an emphatic winning 7/1 joint-favourite, storming clear of his rivals to give the all-conquering Mullins a second victory in the Aintree showpiece.

Successful with Hedgehunter 19 years ago, Mullins was responsible for eight of the 32 who headed to post in Liverpool, but I Am Maximus was well-touted to follow up last year’s success in the Irish Grand National.

An impressive tune-up in the Bobbyjo Chase saw punters latch onto the Grade One-winning eight-year-old and Paul Townend rode him with supreme confidence down the inner as I Am Maximus showed no sign of previous jumping frailties.

In a race with early drama when defending champion Corach Rambler unshipped Derek Fox at the very first fence, there were a plethora still in contention heading down to two out, where I Am Maximus was inching into contention.

However, the complexion of the race would change at the elbow where I Am Maximus scooted clear of the Rachael Blackmore-ridden Minella Indo and the staying-on Delta Work, who picked up second place in his third attempt at the famous race.

Enjoy the replay:

It was a first Grand National triumph for Townend, while owner JP McManus was striking at Aintree for the third time after Don’t Push It (2010) and Minella Times (2021).

McManus told ITV that he loves everything about the race.

“I love Liverpool, I love coming here. It’s a very special race amongst special people,” he added.

I Am Maximus jockey Paul Townend, speaking to ITV, said: “He got a little fright in the race but he got his confidence back. I thought he’d pick up for me and he duly obliged. It was very special and he was very brave. It’s unique, it hasn’t really set in. It’s what every young boy with a pony wants to do.”

The Racing Post reported that no horse fell at the 30 fences and 21 of the 32-strong field completed the Grand National course, the highest number of finishers since 2005.

The last National to feature more than 21 finishers was in 1992, when it was won by Party Politics.

In October, Aintree and the Jockey Club announced a number of changes to the race, including a reduction in the number of runners to a maximum of 34 from 40, the movement of the first fence 60 yards closer to the starting line and a standing start. For the first time in three runnings there were no fatalities.

Speaking on ITV, Ruby Walsh said: “It all looked to be a success. I know I enjoyed watching the race and it was a great showpiece for the sport. It’s how we advertise what we have and if that doesn’t convince people that it’s a wonderful sport, I’m not sure what will.”

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