Sport Horse Racing

Thursday 21 August 2014

Comeback king is the National hero

Cormac Byrne

Published 06/04/2014 | 02:30

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Leighton Aspell celebrates with the trophy after Pineau De Re won The Crabbie's Grand National Steeple Chase during Grand National Day of the Crabbie's Grand National 2014 Festival at Aintree Racecourse, Liverpool. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday April 5, 2014. See PA story RACING Aintree. Photo credit should read: David Davies/PA Wire
Leighton Aspell celebrates with the trophy after Pineau De Re won The Crabbie's Grand National Steeple Chase during Grand National Day of the Crabbie's Grand National 2014 Festival at Aintree Racecourse, Liverpool
LIFETIME DREAM: Leighton Aspell after winning the National on Pineau De Re. Photo: David Davies

The dreams of Kildare jockey Leighton Aspell came true last night as he claimed the Grand National on board Pineau De Re.

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And the 37-year-old native of Narraghmore was cheered on by his wife and three daughters, who travelled to Aintree to watch him claim Grand National glory.

Aspell is the ultimate comeback king. He retired in 2007 for more than a year before the lure of national hunt proved irresistible.

And he has enjoyed his best ever season – 11 years after his best-placed finish in the National. He finished second on board Supreme Glory in 2004. His 11-year-old mount was a 25/1 shot after finishing third in the Pertemps Final over hurdles at the Cheltenham Festival and travelled powerfully through the fieled.

He jumped the final fence in a clear lead and his pursuers never looked like bridging the gap as he galloped all the way to the line to secure a momentous five-length win.

Balthazar King ran a fine race to finish second, ahead of champion jockey Tony McCoy aboard Double Seven.

Alvarado stayed on from a long way back to finish fourth. Rocky Creek was sixth.

Aspell, now based in the UK, said: "It's a wonderful day, this is what we do it for.

"I've been watching the National since I was a very young boy. As much as you enjoy sharing everyone's success, you crave a bit, too."

Sunday Independent

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