The 2010 Grand National was a triumph for punters as AP McCoy finally broke his Aintree duck on the 10/1 joint-favourite, Don’t Push It. The partnership attracted an avalanche of money on the day, badly bruising the bookies. It was a first win for McCoy’s boss, owner JP McManus and trainer Jonjo O’Neill too.
For once McCoy did not need to exert his formidable power in a finish to win. He had plenty of horse under him when he took the lead at the last and only had to persuade Don’t Push It to keep galloping after he pricked his ears and idled slightly in front. He easily drew clear of his only serious rival, Dessie Hughes’ Black Apalachi (14/1) ridden by Denis O’Regan to win by five lengths.
A further 20 lengths behind them was a fierce battle for third. The Evan Williams trained State Of Play (16/1) owned by the Rucker family and partnered by Paul Moloney got the better of Paul Nicholls’ weakening joint favourite, Big Fella Thanks, to take third by three lengths.
It was Barry Geraghty, Nicky Henderson’s stable jockey, who took the ride on Big Fella Thanks. His intended partner, Ruby Walsh, had been injured in a crashing fall on Celestial Halo in the Aintree Hurdle earlier in the afternoon.
The 17-year-old Sam Twiston-Davies finished 35 lengths behind the winner in fifth on Hello Bud (20/1). Trained by his father Nigel, Hello Bud had put in a superb display of jumping and been up with the pace until running short of fuel before the second last. Sam was full of praise for Hello Bud for providing him with a dream first crack at the National.
Joy for McCoy
No one was left in any doubt as to how much the win meant to the more seasoned McCoy. For once his elation was unmistakable as he stood up in his stirrups and raised his whip aloft in a victory salute as he crossed the line. After receiving the congratulations of his fellow jocks he threw his arms around the neck of his willing partner.
McCoy had been champion jockey countless times but his 14 previous forays in the National had been unfruitful, despite being regularly well mounted on JP McManus’ strongest Aintree hope.
Yes, he had been placed before but his lack of success and high number of non-completions on seemingly capable horses left some wondering if he was ever destined to overcome his Aintree jinx.
McCoy admitted that he thought on the first circuit that Don’t Push It was enjoying the challenge of Aintree and that this horse could be the one to take him all the way. The 10-year-old Irish bred’s jumping was almost perfect. McCoy said the jockey was probably to blame for his one mistake at the 26th fence.
It had been a difficult decision choosing which of McManus’ runners to ride. Can’t Buy Time (33/1), also trained by O’Neill, appeared to have fairly strong claims. The eight-year-old had won at Cheltenham in January and looked progressive. McCoy was grateful that O’Neill suggested (apparently after much coin tossing) that he partner Don’t Push It.
It was good advice. Can’t Buy Time fell at the Canal Turn under Richie McLernon.
What happened in the race?
There was action right from the start. King Johns Castle (28/1), who came second to Comply Or Die for JP McManus in 2008 decided he would rather not repeat the experience and, having been reluctant to line up, planted himself at flagfall and refused to move.
In contrast Eric’s Charm (33/1) was very keen to race and led the field into the first. There his hopes ended as he crashed on landing, hampering horses in his wake. It was Hello Bud who took up the lead with Black Apalachi close behind him going into the third.
By the fourth fence the 100/1 outsider, Conna Castle had taken up pole position racing on the wide outside. He bounded over Bechers a couple of lengths ahead of Black Apalachi and Hello Bud. His lead was diminished as he went wide at the Canal Turn and he continued to edge right at his fences, losing ground but retaining the lead.
Meanwhile McCoy had Don’t Push It settled nicely mid field and Big Fella Thanks was jumping well in fifth behind Ballyholland (25/1) as they cleared the Chair. Black Apalachi took the lead at Bechers second time and Don’t Push It had made smooth progress into fifth. Nick Williams’ Maljimar (33/1) and Twiston-Davies’ Ballyfitz (50/1) both hit the deck.
At the Foinavon Conna Castle made a mistake and it was Black Apalachi who established a lead of a few lengths over the Canal Turn second time. Don’t Push It wasted no ground whilst Conna Castle’s hopes of National glory faded as Hello Bud and Big Fella Thanks passed him.
At the fence after Valentines Don’t Push It made a mistake but lost little momentum. It was the current title-holder, the Venetia Williams trained Mon Mome (14/1), who fell when in eighth place. As they approached the next Black Apalachi had a lead of about a length over Big Fella Thanks and Hello Bud with the smooth travelling Don’t Push It just behind the leading trio.
State Of Play was a few lengths behind him fifth with Comply Or Die (12/1) not far behind in sixth. Conna Castle continued in seventh with Willie Mullins’ Snowy Morning (14/1) on his inner. The rest of the field appeared to be spent forces.
With two left to jump only four horses seemed to have serious claims. Black Apalachi had a narrow advantage but Don’t Push It looked to be travelling best. Geraghty was already at work on Big Fella Thanks and Twiston-Davies had his head down, rowing hard on Hello Bud. State Of Play led the detached, chasing pack.
The leading quartet jumped the penultimate fence together but it was Don’t Push It who got away from it best, getting his head in front of Black Apalachi for the first time as Hello Bud weakened, leaving Big Fella Thanks in third. Black Apalachi kept on but could find no more as Don’t Push It powered away. The rest is history that McCoy, McManus and countless punters will remember fondly.