Daily Sport readers have it off as Auroras Encore romps home in Grand National

© 2012 Daily Sport Limited

Bookies were celebrating after Auroras Encore ran out the shock 66/1 winner in the John Smith’s Grand National, but they were not the only ones as Daily Sport readers had it right off after our very own Dave Metcalf tipped him up – at 80/1!

Dave put up two bets for yesterday’s big race, and highlighted the winner as the best outsider in the contest and overpriced at the early morning odds.

And his followers were laughing all the way to the bank as the horse romped home to land the worlds’ greatest steeplchase for Sue and Harvey Smith on a day when all 40 runners and riders came back safe and sound.

Speaking after the race, Harvey said: “We’ve always fancied him for this because he is a lovely horse. He was only beaten a whisker in the Scottish National and he’d been given a lovely weight here.

“It’s superb – I don’t know where my missus is – she’s probably collapsed!

“All of the horses have come back in one piece and that is a bonus. Sue did an interview yesterday and she said that the clerk of the course, Lord Daresbury and the RSPCA have all worked hard to get it as a safe course. They have proven it today that it is safe.

“They have done a first class job, they have tried their best. This race will go on forever – look at the public. People love this race, it goes out worldwide – you can’t beat it.

“This is the best for me and let’s hope that there is more to come, but unfortunately we are all getting older!”

Sue Smith said: “It’s thanks to Harvey because he makes everybody work hard and I think that is the answer to this job.”

Jim Beaumont, one of the three owners, said: “I used to work at the Adelphi Hotel (in Liverpool) where all the jockeys used to stay. That was when I was about 14 so we are talking about 1948 and the Grand National was always a big day.

“I used to come here with my godmother, who was a nun and worked for the archbishop, and she would save all her free tickets and bring us here.”

Winning jockey Ryan Mania quit racing for six months in the winter of 2011, but came back and today landed the world’s most famous steeplechase.

Mania said: “It’s unbelievable – people keep telling me to look happy and I am, but I just cannot believe it’s happened. It’s a dream and you cannot explain what it’s like.

“I was happy with my early position and he jumped really well over the early fences, with just the odd mistake here and there. He was on his head a bit, but he learned from those mistakes and learned to back off the fences a bit. He was always travelling so well.

“I got a blow into him after Becher’s, and having ridden here in November I remembered that I probably kicked on a bit soon then and realised you have to give them a chance to get their breath.

“I was sixth or seventh and had a bit of daylight and a clear run – I was very lucky and that’s what you need in the National.

“My only ambition was to get round, although I knew he stayed the trip. He hasn’t been himself all season and has needed this better ground and sun on his back. He’s not had the sunshine, but he got the better ground and he’s class on his day.

“Coming to the second-last I was delighted because I realised I was going to be placed, and I thought ‘this is great, let’s just jump home’, then the front two [Teaforthree and Oscar Time] stopped in front of me at the last and I said to myself ‘this isn’t happening’. So I got down and gave him a shove and he quickened on past them.

“I heard the commentator say there was a loose horse behind me but I didn’t dare look round and just kept going.”

Mania got into racing after leaving school at 16, and eventually joined up with County Durham yard of Howard Johnson, but after that trainer’s licence was suspended Mania found rides hard to come by and left racing for six months to work as a whipper-in for the Fife Hunt.

Reflecting on his decision to leave racing, albeit briefly, he said: “It was a hard decision but I was unsure what to do and wanted to clear my head and figure out my next move. It was a sabbatical and I thought I’d take a whole year out, but I missed racing after six months. I enjoyed my time with the hunt, but it’s not racing, and then Sue and Harvey took me back and it’s been going great since then.”


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