The grey’s success in the Ultima Handicap Chase was Mania’s most significant since the 2013 Grand National-winning rider made his comeback 18 months ago. It follows fine winning rides on Yorkhill and Seeyouatmidnight earlier in the season for his stepfather-in-law Sandy Thomson.
Mania, who won the National on the Smith-trained Auroras Encore, hopes this latest triumph on Vintage Clouds for owner Trevor Hemmings also repays a personal debt to them since walking away from the sport in November 2014 for five years.
“I’m unbelievably pleased for Sue Smith,” he said. “It’s great for them and great for the North. It couldn’t happen to two nicer people than Sue and Harvey. They’ve been real stalwarts of the sport.
“I shouldn’t say they’re getting old, but they are getting towards the end of their training and it’s just unbelievable that they can send a horse here in this fettle and still compete with the best of them.”
The jockey added: “I think because of the National we always have that shared relationship, that shared bond, and they didn’t have to start giving me rides again when I came out of retirement as ultimately it was them I let down when I retired. We had the National winner and we had a lot of history then, and for me to walk away they must have been disappointed. I can’t thank them enough for taking me on again.”