4/15/2016 12:53:01 PM
Written by Adam Morgan (@Adam_Morgs), a sports journalism graduate from Derby who describes himself as a lover of all sport including cricket, football and of course horse racing.
Rule the World, the perennially injured horse. Mouse Morris, the ageing trainer battling the grief of family tragedy. Danny Mullins, the 19 year old boy wonder in the saddle and the airline owning racehorse owner. It sounds like a tale from a Dick Francis novel but on Saturday afternoon they turned fiction into reality with one of the most heartwarming National victories one will have the privilege to witness.
Mouse by name, Mouse by nature, with his often hard to decipher Irish drone, brought a miracle to the table on a murky Merseyside afternoon. Rule the World was a second season novice, no win over fences in 13 attempts, pelvic problems and a fragile make-up. He was taking on proven Grade one performers in Many Clouds and Silviniaco Conti. Even Gigginstown House Stud retained jockey Bryan Cooper preferred the old boy First Lieutenant. How could he win?
I myself was one of the arrogant racing fans openly chuckling at the legion of Gary Barlow and Take That disciples queuing up to take the 50/1, 40/1 and finally 33/1 on offer.
But this is Grand National day. And for one day in early April each year the form book goes firmly out the window. It is a day when things just happen because they are meant to, logic should not even be attempted to be applied.
Morris was responsible for Gigginstown House Stud's first big day in racing when War Of Attrition landed the Gold Cup, now he has provided his loyal owners with a first win in the biggest race of all.
For Morris and his family it was welcome rest bite from the undoubted pain of losing their son. Tiffer Morris, Mouse's beloved son was lost to the world in an accident in South America. When Rogue Angel won the Irish National, holding off the late charge from Bless the Wings, an emotional Mouse claimed that it must have been Tiffer looking down on him doing his dad a favour. If Rogue Angel was Tiffer’s miracle, then Rule The World's triumph summoned all possible divine inspiration, a more than welcome helping hand from the big man in the sky.
As for Jockey David Mullins, 19 years in age but touching 42 years in maturity and stature, some would say his ride was the gift from God. Earlier in the day we saw Paul Townsend have his upper limbs pulled pillar to post in his spar with the headstrong Yorkhill for the first 1m5f before giving up the ghost and letting the six-year-old have his head, horsemanship of the finest order. Mullins was equally astute here. Having had Rule the World up with the pace early in the race he eased him back as they went out for the second circuit. He had seen each of the 15 fences now, he knew what it was about, “have a breather now boy and we'll play racehorses later” was the likely though running through Mullins’ head. When Rule The World made a mistake four out, many would panic, many would ask their horse to prove they was still had plenty in the tank, Mullins just sat still, he trusted Rule the World and the feeling was mutual.
And as Morning Assembly beated a retreat having crossed the Melling Road and headed two out 'Go on David, Go on' roared rider Davy Russell as Rule the World came sauntering alongside. On Mullins went, stalking The Last Samuri and the brave teenager Vics Canvas up to the elbow before powering home on the run to the line.
A word now for owner Michael O'Leary and his Gigginstown House Stud. They often receive their fair share of bad publicity, O'Leary is of course a stubborn, headstrong business man who is not short of an unpopular opinion. And after all being the boss of Ryanair is bad enough for most people! But their love of their horses and our great sport is undoubted. Twice Rule the World had career threatening pelvic injuries. Yes they have the capital to pay the vet bills granted, but lesser owners would have pulled up stumps many a full moon ago. Their Patience is now rewarded with a National winner to go alongside Don Cossack's Gold Cup win.
Finally let’s give credit to Aintree Racecourse who for a third straight year have staged a race with no equine fatalities. A credit to the race alterations which have been made. On a day when the sport is often seen in a negative light, we saw a triumph for the good guys and nobody can help but smile about that.