Three Talking Points from the Grand National Festival 

The curtain is closing on another season of jump racing and what a way to finish with the Grand National at Aintree. One of the biggest events on the British sporting calendar, the race certainly delivered plenty of action, with 50/1 outsider Noble Yeats stunning the horse racing betting markets with a shock victory. The crowd were in good voice, with this being the first time the National has had a full set of spectators since 2019, where Gordon Elliott-trained Tiger Roll won for the second consecutive year.

As well as the National itself, the three days of racing at Aintree lived up to expectations, with a plethora of new champions across a variety of different races. With plenty to dissect it’s hard to pick out specific moments, but read on, as we go through three key talking points from the 2022 Grand National Festival.  

Waley-Cohen bows out a champion

Few would have predicted Noble Yeats would win the National, with the outsider winning the four-mile steeplechase by three lengths. It was a last race for Sam Waley-Cohen, whose dad owns the horse, and what a fairy-tale end for the amateur jockey, who won in style and got to bask in the adulation of a full Aintree crowd. 

You could tell he was overwhelmed upon winning the race, but ended his career victorious and thanked dad Robert for the Emmet Mullins-trained horse’s victory. “It’s a dream. I couldn’t believe it,” he said. “I’ve got to say thank you, as it’s my last ever ride, to my dad, for unwavering belief and love.

“Over 23 years and never a cross word, never been anything but a dream. It’s been a love affair.”

Disappointment for Rachael Blackmore 

Expectation was high for last year’s winner Minella Times, but an abrupt fall on the ninth fence resulted in an early finish for Rachael Blackmore, who was riding the crest of a wave in the build up to the National. Despite winning the Gold Cup at Cheltenham a few weeks ago, Blackmore just couldn’t replicate the same performance as last year on Henry de Bromhead’s nine-year-old, and as one of the favourites, her exit would have frustrated punters up and down the country.

We have no doubt Blackmore will be back though, as ‘The Queen of Prestbury Park’ continues to break down barriers as the first female winner of the National. Although Minella Times may prove to be a one-hit wonder for last year’s exploits behind closed doors.

Mac Tottie wins the Topham

Moving away from the National now and on to the highlight of Ladies Day — the Topham Chase. A popular race amongst the locals, it was Peter Bowen’s Mac Tottie who was victorious, earning a record-equalling fifth win for the trainer. It looked a competitive race on paper, with the likes of Batticoand Willie Mullins-trained Annamix finishing second and third respectively. 

Despite a big mistake at the second hurdle, Mac Tottierecovered nicely to secure the win. With Bowen’s son, Sean aboard as jockey, like Waley-Cohen in the National he heaped on the praise for his dad after the race. “I’m not being biased but Dad is brilliant,” he said. “When he wants to get one ready, he gets one ready. James schooled him a couple of days ago and my other brother, Mickey, always rides him [at home] and the last week or so they couldn’t wait for him to run.

Rachel Bartee

Rachel Bartee is a blogger and freelance writer dreaming of a tour round the world to write a story of her greatest life adventure. For the time being, she feels inspired by her daily yoga sessions and studies Interpersonal Relationships.