Grand National: Noble Yeats wins in Sam Waley-Cohen's final ride

By Frank KeoghBBC Sport at Aintree
Sam Waley-Cohen on Noble Yeats celebrates with his father Robert
Sam Waley-Cohen ended his career with victory on Noble Yeats - a horse owned by his father Robert (left)

The 50-1 outsider Noble Yeats won the Grand National at Aintree to give amateur jockey Sam Waley-Cohen a fairytale farewell in his final ride.

Waley-Cohen held off the challenge of favourite Any Second Now in a thrilling finish, with Delta Work third and Santini fourth.

Noble Yeats, trained in Ireland by Emmet Mullins, is the first horse aged seven to win since Bogskar in 1940.

"That's beyond words - a fairytale and a fantasy," said the winning jockey.

Waley-Cohen, who will turn 40 on Friday, only announced his retirement two days before the big race.

He had the best record over the National course of any current jockey going into the contest, with six wins in other races, and signed off with a brilliant retirement ride.

It was a first victory for an amateur jockey since Marcus Armytage won on Mr Frisk at Aintree in 1990.

"That's definitely it now, I'm done," he added. "I always knew when I had second thoughts about getting out of bed to go and ride one it would be time to call it a day and I couldn't think of anywhere better to go out than this.

"The reason I kept coming back here year after year is to have a feeling like that."

Noble Yeats was bought by the jockey's father Robert Waley-Cohen two months ago.

Waley-Cohen, the former chairman of Cheltenham racecourse and owner of Long Run, who won the 2011 Cheltenham Gold Cup under Sam Waley-Cohen, was overjoyed at the success.

"It's the dream come true, I can't speak - it's just fabulous," said Robert.

"I feel like quoting Shakespeare - my cup runneth over. I'm really emotional."

Any Second Now was second as the 15-2 favourite, Delta Work was third at 10-1, Santini fourth at 33-1 and Fiddlerontheroof finished fifth at 12-1.

Just 15 of the 40 horses who set out made it home.

Last year's winner Minella Times, the mount of Rachael Blackmore, fell at the ninth fence when at the back of the field, while strongly fancied mare Snow Leopardess was pulled up before the second circuit.

However, there was a sad note to the race with the news that Discorama suffered a fatal injury.

An Aintree spokesman said the horse, trained in Ireland by Paul Nolan, was injured on the Flat while travelling between fences and had an untreatable pelvic injury.

It was the third equine fatality at the three-day meeting after mare Elle Est Belle earlier on Saturday and Solwara One on Friday.

Any Second Now and Mark Walsh and Noble Yeats and Sam Waley Cohen
Any Second Now and Noble Yeats fought out a tremendous finish

Waley-Cohen, who finished second in the 2011 Grand National on Oscar Time, had Noble Yeats at the back of the field early on, but jumped solidly and moved up to mid-division by the halfway point.

With two fences to go there were six runners in with a chance but Two For Gold, out in front for so long, pulled up at the penultimate fence and then it was between Noble Yeats and Any Second Now going to the last.

Noble Yeats then took the inside at the Elbow and from then on it was victory all the way.

However, the winning jockey was suspended by the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) for nine days and fined £400 for using his whip above the permitted level and in the incorrect place in the finish.

But given Waley-Cohen has announced his retirement, he will not serve the ban.

Magical Aintree debut for Mullins

It was a first National runner for winning trainer Mullins, the nephew of champion trainer Willie Mullins.

"Today was the plan, and it's nice when a plan comes together," he said.

"I didn't get to see much of him early doors, but going away from the stands I had to take a breath and I said 'this is a winner's position'. It was the perfect spot on that second circuit.

"That last circuit, everything just seemed to fall into place. I would say I'm understandably shell-shocked."

The Waley-Cohen family celebrate
The Waley-Cohen family celebrate their famous victory


Former jockey Andrew Thornton on BBC Radio 5 Live

There have been some great amateurs over the years and you can add Sam Waley-Cohen to that list. He has gone and won the Grand National on his last-ever ride. It is a sensational result.

Any Second Now had no hard-luck stories. He had the perfect run round and he came with a challenge at the last.

You can feel the shock that a 50-1 chance has beaten the red-hot favourite.

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