Six things we learned from the Grand National at Aintree

Leighton AspellLeighton Aspell
Leighton Aspell
HERE are the highlights from the Aintree spectacular:

1. Many Clouds was a worthy winner. The winning time of 8 mins 56.8 secs was one of the quickest in history. Many Clouds also carried 11st 9lb to victory, the best weight-carrying performance since Red Rum defied 12st in 1974.

2. The Druids Nephew was an unlucky loser. Neil Mulholland’s horse was leading, and travelling ominously, well when crumpling on landing at the fourth last for a despairing Aidan Coleman. With more experience, he could be one to follow next year.

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3. AP McCoy was on the right horse. Even though there was no fairytale finish to the career of the 20-times champion jockey, he did pick the right horse - McCoy’s mount Shuththefrontdoor was in contention until fading after the third last before finishing a leg-weary fifth. Perhaps a prep run would have helped. McCoy could have ridden Cause Of Causes who finished eighth and who never got into the race.

4. Jump jockeys are a different breed. After becoming the first jockey to win successive Nationals on different horses in over 60 years - Bryan Marshall last achieved the feat in 1953 and ‘54 on Vincent O’Brien’s Early Mist and Royal Tan - Leighton Aspell drove his family from Merseyside to their home in Sussex before driving to Market Rasen for racing on Sunday. He said he could not afford to let down connections.

5. Sean Bowen is the real deal. Bidding to become the second youngest winning rider, the 17-year-old finished a creditable 11th on Mon Parrain for Harrogate businessman John Cotton and his wife Barbara. It was the best performance of the four Paul Nicholls-trained runners.

6. The National is still a great spectacle. The Aintree marathon has lost none of its appeal, or drama, following safety modifications - The Canal Turn was bypassed on the second circuit, with top jockey Ruby Walsh waving riders around the fence, so Balthazar King could receive the best veterinary attention. The horse is said to be recovering at an equine hospital while the post-race cooling-off facilities aided the recovery of Many Clouds and horses like the veteran Tranquil Sea who finished seventh and gave his young jockey Gavin Sheehan the thrill of his life.

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