AN EMOTIONAL DAVY Russell paid tribute to those who had supported him over the years after the jockey won his first Grand National in 14 attempts at Aintree today.
But just when he looked to have victory sewn up, the Willie Mullins-trained Pleasant Company, who had been ridden prominently and jumped boldly, came with a late rattle to nearly join him on the line.
Gordon Elliott's eight-year-old landed his third Cheltenham Festival success in the Cross-Country Chase last month, to go with previous victories in the Triumph Hurdle and National Hunt Chase, and was among the market principals for the world's most famous steeplechase.
Bless The Wings, also trained by Elliott, kept on gamely for third, just holding off the well-fancied Anibale Fly who completed a 1-2-3-4 for Irish-trained runners. The 10-1 chance looked like he had just started when cruising ominously into contention crossing the Melling Road under Davy Russell.
'I was thinking of my mum, my family at home, the kids and all the times that dad used to cut the grass, ' said Russell. I can't believe it, to be honest. I was speaking to him the other morning and he's as tough as nails.
GETTY82 horses have died since the Grand National started in 1839
"On the way down the commentator said I was the oldest in the race so I thought "I'd better not come back next year".
'I've won this race thousands of times in my head but I've never won it like I have today'.
One wrote: "I don't normally let my emotions get the best of me but f**k the grand national".
It was a second major reverse at the hands of an Elliott horse in the space of a fortnight for Mullins, having seen his Isleofhopendreams beaten just a head in the Irish National.More news: United Kingdom calls for UNSC meeting on OPCW report on Salisbury incident