Belfast Telegraph

Rule the World is a high flyer at Aintree

By Billy Weir

Clare Balding has presented just about everything there is to present, but now she can tick off holiday programme on her CV after taking to various modes of transport to get to Liverpool on Saturday.

"They're coming from far and wide and travel here to Merseyside," she said as we joined her on a ferry, yes, across the Mersey, before popping up on a train and then completing her journey, aptly enough, on Shanks' pony to get her to Aintree.

"On this day in April, Aintree is the centre of the sporting world for this is the place where history is made," she added, and if you hadn't guessed by now, Channel Four had started their Grand National coverage in style.

But fellow presenter, Nick Luck, had slightly more, err, luck, in that he was being ferried in by helicopter.

"Twelve months ago it was Many Clouds who flew highest," he said as we all suddenly went 'ahh, I see what you did there' and thanked our lucky stars that he hadn't been around when Red Rum had won and been rolled out in a barrel 12 months later.

Another star of yesteryear, or last year to be more precise, did join her though as AP McCoy (no sign of twin, Tony, probably held up on traffic) fresh from his retirement, returned.

"For the last two decades Sir Anthony McCoy would have been sitting in the briefing room but he's here on the roof with me," said Balding as we waited for Luck to sweep down and rescue them.

With the race itself now pushed back to early evening we were all in need of a bit of rescuing as the programme, like a horse's big, dangly tail, did go on a bit, but as we were told 600 million people will watch this, just a few more than the number of presenters in various guises that Channel Four seemed to have.

There were some good bits, McCoy dusting off his silks for a spin around the course, a lunchtime get-together with chums and Balding making a trip to see Jonjo O'Neill my personal favourites, quickly by-passing a chat with Paddy McGuinness, the highlight of which was Luck asking 'what do you likey today?'

He went for Holywell and it fell at the second fence so it wasn't to be a case of Take Me Out but Take That as Rule The World romped home for the superbly-named Mouse Morris.

"The horse took to it like a duck to water," explained Luck, who must have wondered how he would get this ever-increasing menagerie onto the chopper, but there was barely a squeak out of Mouse when pounced on by Balding.

No such problems with the horse's owner, Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary, who you half expected to arrive in the winner's enclosure afterwards with a bill for jockey David Mullins for sitting on his horse.

But before we fade away, whether it be planes, equines or all forms of transport in between, you can guarantee that next year's opening sequence on Channel Four will feature Take That.

Belfast Telegraph

Daily News Headlines Newsletter

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox.


From Belfast Telegraph