How can a 100/1 shot in the Grand National not just win but leave the field trailing, looking distinctly one-paced in his wake? Mon Mome, trained by Venetia Williams, did exactly that under Liam Treadwell, having started at a triple-figure price that suggested he had no hope.
There were no obvious reasons for the upset. It was decent, good to soft going – not an unconquerable bog. There were no race-changing incidents. Most of the fancied horses survived the obstacles and ran their race. Mon Mome was simply ignored by the vast majority of punters.
The 2008 National winner, David Pipe’s Comply Or Die (14/1) ridden by Timmy Murphy, finished 12 lengths behind the victor to take second.
The joint second favourite, My Will (8/1) gave his trainer Paul Nicholls and his many followers in the betting some hope when he managed to get his head in front two out. It was short lived – unless they had backed him each-way. He soon relinquished his advantage and finished just over a length behind Comply Or Die in third. Evan Williams’ State Of Play (14/1) was four and a half lengths further back in fourth.
It was Treadwell’s first ride round Aintree’s marathon and his most significant and valuable victory as a jockey by a similar distance. He was overwhelmed immediately afterwards and could only describe his win as ‘unbelievable’ and extol the virtues of his mount for giving him such a great ride and for being so genuine.
In a later interview he admitted that his only riding instructions were to give the horse some daylight and hope for a bit of luck.
Venetia Williams looked more composed but seemed surprised to have taken the National. She became only the second female trainer to do so, following in the footsteps of the indomitable Jenny Pitman who successfully saddled both Corbiere and Royal Athlete.
Williams displayed both diplomacy and honesty when she said that you could not expect to win a race like this. She was full of praise for Treadwell and her team at home.
Vida Bingham, Mon Mome’s owner must have been quite shocked too. She had been watching the wrong horse for half the race – and it was not going nearly as well as hers. Bingham’s mistake was understandable. Mon Mome had been very patiently ridden and was not mentioned by the commentators until after the second Bechers.
How did the winner escape the attention of punters?
The 10-year-old French-bred Mon Mome was a proven stayer. He had finished second in the 2006 Welsh National and started as the 9/2 favourite in the same race in December 2008 (but finished 17 lengths behind the winner in eighth). He was a sound jumper who had never fallen and was a class act, rated 148.
It wasn’t just the vast majority of punters who overlooked Mon Mome. Williams’ stable jockey Aidan Coleman did too. He chose to partner his stablemate Stan (50/1). The New Zealand-bred hit the deck at the first Foinavon.
Coleman was not known for being on the wrong Williams horse and his decision should have been an informed one. He had ridden Mon Mome in the previous National. They finished nearly 60 lengths behind Comply Or Die in 10th off a 7lb lower mark.
Mon Mome had no problems with the fences but was never on terms. With the benefit of hindsight, the good ground might have been a little quick for him and being hampered at Bechers second time would not have helped his chances.
Williams had obviously not viewed Mon Mome as a serious Aintree prospect. Just two weeks before the big race he lined up in the Midlands National at Uttoxeter. Only half the field completed on the testing ground. He finished last, almost 60 lengths behind the winner, Victor Dartnall’s Russian Trigger. He had been ridden prominently by Sam Thomas and weakened, becoming tailed off four fences from home but was urged to complete the four mile plus marathon.
All the other placed horses in the Aintree Grand National had been given a spin round over a much shorter distance and at least a month to recover before tackling the National. They had also had a much less demanding campaign than the winner.
Mon Mome’s victory was particularly impressive as it was his seventh run of the season. After starting well with a win at Cheltenham second time out in December his form had tailed off. He certainly did not benefit from a classic National preparation.
How did the race unfold?
It didn’t for ages. Two false starts delayed proceedings and may have contributed to the number of fallers in the early stages. Himalayan Trail (28/1) and Nicky Henderson’s Golden Flight (66/1) fell at the first. The amateur jockey, Sam Waley-Cohen, had a brief National ride on Nigel Twiston-Davies’ Ollie Magern (66/1). They came down at the second as did the more fancied Brooklyn Brownie (22/1). Chelsea Harbour (40/1) fell at the third and brought down Reveillez (100/1).
It was Dessie Hughes’ Black Apalachi (11/1), winner of the Becher Chase in 2008, who took the lead by the third and showed the field how the fences should be tackled. Willie Mullins’ Irish Invader (16/1) and Gordon Elliot’s 2007 National winner, Silver Birch, 40/1 in the Grand National betting, were close behind him. State Of Play and Idle Talk (66/1) were also prominent as they took Bechers for the first time. Meanwhile My Will was in mid division under Ruby Walsh, tracking the Jonjo O’Neill trained 7/1 favourite Butler’s Cabin ridden by his mate, AP McCoy. Hear The Echo I (33/1) was racing in fourth by the Canal Turn.
Black Apalachi easily maintained his lead and cruised over the Chair whilst Cloudy Lane (50/1) blundered and unseated Jason Maguire. Comply Or Die had established a good rhythm in tenth whilst Silver Birch held second place.
Thirty horses set out on the final circuit. Offshore Account (20/1) had joined Silver Birch to share second place. Mon Mome had crept up the inside to take eighth place but still hadn’t been mentioned by the commentators.
At Bechers second time Black Apalachi had a clear lead but pecked slightly on landing, taking O’Regan by surprise and unseating him. Silver Birch hit the deck leaving Hear The Echo to take the lead as My Will edged his way into third. The commentators finally mentioned Mon Mome who was half a length behind him.
Offshore Account and Hear The Echo shared the lead over Valentines and some 15 horses looked to have chances going into the second last. My Will took off first with Mon Mome less than a length behind him on his inner and Comply Or Die in a similar position on his outer. McCoy was not far behind them and had been pushing Butler’s Cabin for some time but his efforts elicited little response.
Comply Or Die had the advantage over the last but it was Mon Mome who had surged ahead by the elbow. He galloped on relentlessly allowing time for Treadwell to look back at his distant rivals and wave his whip in the air in delight before the line.
Butler’s Cabin finished 24 lengths behind the winner in seventh. It was the bookies rather than punters who prospered in the 2009 Grand National.