Belfast Telegraph

Friday 18 April 2014

Jockey's disbelief at National win

This year's Grand National is the only major sporting event of the weekend

Jockey Ryan Mania has spoken of his disbelief after riding 66-1 outsider Auroras Encore to victory in the 166th John Smith's Grand National.

Mania, 23, a former point-to-point rider from Galashiels in the Scottish Borders, became the first Scottish-born winning rider of the world-famous steeplechase since 1896, when David Campbell won on The Soarer.

A sell-out Aintree crowd of more than 70,000 and an estimated 600 million global television viewers saw Mania bring the 11-year-old horse home nine lengths in front of runner-up Cappa Bleu and third-placed Teaforthree.

All 40 horses and jockeys returned home "safe and sound" after the race at the Merseyside course, after deaths in the 2012 and 2011 races led track officials to make alterations to fences.

After the race, Mania said: "I couldn't have asked for a better ride, and the old horse was loving it as well. I couldn't believe, even at the Melling Road, that I was still there.

"I was happy to be placed at that point, and then the front two stopped and I took off in front of them - it was unbelievable."

The Grand National is worth £975,000 in prize money, making it one of the richest jump races in Europe.

Mania's victory marked a dramatic turnaround in his career, which was temporarily halted when he spent six months out of racing and working in the hunt service after his former boss Howard Johnson lost his training licence.

He praised trainer Sue Smith, 65, and her husband Harvey, saying he could not have come back to racing without them.

Mrs Smith said: "Ryan gave the horse such a good ride. We knew the ground was right, we knew everything else was and it was. He had a bit of luck in running but he didn't have much weight so that helped. But it was no fluke. The horse has plenty of miles on the clock and is very sensible, he's a brilliant ride."

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