2024 Grand National Recap: Saturday 13th April

2024 Grand National Recap: Saturday 13th April

One of the best racing days of the year was upon us. On Saturday 13th April the world saw the running  of this year’s Grand National. The most famous horse race in the world, well over a million pounds, was up for grabs for the 33 horses who headed down to post. 

With six other exciting races on the card, read on as we review a superb day of racing.

Race 1: William Hill Handicap Hurdle (Handicap)

  • Gwennie May Boy - 9/2
  • Lord Snootie - 18/1
  • West Balboa - 11/4

Grand National Day started with a bang for Dan Skelton who enjoyed another winner of the week. 

Gwennie May Boy missed Cheltenham and arrived at Aintree clearly fresh and full of running. Having spent the majority of the race in mid-division, he started to make headway and found parity with those at the head of affairs three flights from home.

Producing an efficient jump, he sauntered into the lead and wouldn't look back. Finding himself three lengths in front as he jumped the second last, nobody would be able to catch him and he powered all the way to the finish line.

Race 2: Turners Mersey Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 1)

  • Brighterdaysahead - 6/5
  • Staffordshire Knot  - 20/1
  • Bugise Seagull - 50/1

Gordon  Elliott has won the Grand National on multiple occasions and it was only fitting that on Grand National Day he had a winner on the card.

Having long been in the shadow of Willie Mullins, Brighterdaysahead was Elliott’s first Grade 1 winner of the week and she couldn’t have done it any more impressively.

Clearly travelling well within herself, she cruised into the lead three from home and would only go on to extend her winning margin. Breezing over the last, she won the race at a canter and looks a horse capable of winning some of the sport’s biggest prizes.

It was a great race for Elliott as his second string, Staffordshire Knot made it a 1-2 for the trainer.

Race 2: Turners Mersey Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 1)

Race 3: William Hill Handicap Chase (Handicap)

  • Cruz Control - 9/1
  • Sam Brown - 20/1
  • Forward Plan - 13/2

After the procession of the previous race, the third race on the card was a lot more competitive. With thirteen horses declared, Cruz Control jumped alertly and under a fantastic ride from Stan Sheppard would go on to produce one of the best performances of the entire week.

With the duo controlling the fractions expertly, Sheppard caught all of his rivals unaware as he asked Cruz Control for more when two fences from home.

Opening up a gap between themselves and the rest, the duo were all hearted as they jumped the last still in the lead.

With Sheppard asking Cruz Control for everything he had in the chase to the line, Sam Brown was closing with every stride, but would just fall short in pegging back the thoroughly deserving winner.

Race 4: JRL Group Liverpool Hurdle (Grade 1)

  • Strong Leader - 8/1
  • Buddy One - 15/2
  • Hiddenvalley Lake - 5/1

With the Irish trained horses dominating the majority of Grade 1 races at this year’s Grand National Festival, you could be forgiven in thinking that the Liverpool Hurdle would end up in Irish hands, however there would be a surprise as the Olly Murphy trained Strong Leader would go onto spring the surprise.

Showing a tremendous amount of heart, his jumping around Aintree was actually quite poor, but his work between the hurdles was nothing short of exemplary. Having worked hard to gain parity with the leaders, he joined them with two flights of hurdles and snuck into a narrow lead when approaching the last. Another poor jump seemed to have stopped all of his momentum, but he rallied well to hold off the fast finishing Buddy One and Hiddenvalley Lake to land his trainer his first Grade 1 race of the season.

Race 5: Randox Grand National (Handicap)

  • I Am Maximus - 7/1
  • Delta Work - 28/1
  • Minella Indo - 28/1

After four fantastic races, the race the world had been waiting for was finally here. This year’s Grand National took on added significance as this would be the first year where new safety restrictions were put in place. The race was run at an earlier time, the fences reconstructed and a smaller field was declared.

With the world watching this new race unravel and with the ground holding up, the race was run at a brisk pace but immediately threw up a surprise as 2023 winner Corach Rambler hit the first fence and unseated jockey Derek Fox.

Now with one of the race’s leading contenders out of the race, the race settled into a pattern with every horse in the race jumping fluently.

As the race reached the business end, it was former Scottish Grand National Champion Kitty’s Light that led the field along. With a whole host of challengers bunching in behind it was no surprise that eventually his challenge faded.

Jumping to the front was Delta Work, Minella Indo, Galvin and I Am Maximus. Representing the best of Irish jumps racing, it was former Gold Cup hero Minella Indo that jumped to the front over the last fence.

Under Rachael Blackmore, the two tried to stretch clear of the rest but couldn't shake off the attentions of Delta Work and I Am Maximus. 

Approaching the famous elbow, it was I Am Maximus who seized control and as soon as he hit the front he wouldn’t relinquish the lead.

Managing to hold off the late surges of Delta Work, it was yet another famous victory for Willie Mullins who with this latest victory crowned himself as one of the best trainers that the sport had ever seen.

Race 5: Randox Grand National (Handicap)

Race 6: My Pension Expert Maghull Novices Chase (Grade 1)

  • Found A Fifty - 11/8
  • Master Chewy - 10/1
  • Liberty Hunter - 7/1

Having been denied in the Grand National, Gordon Elliott was able to get over Delta Work’s second place finish by notching his second Grade 1 race of the day.

Found A Fifty was denied in the Arkle at the 2024 Cheltenham Festival but showed he could be a horse worthy of serious consideration in next year’s Champion Chase.

Edging clear over the last fence, he and Master Chewy would go on to have a ding dong battle all the way to the line. With neither horse refusing to give an inch, it was Found A Fifty who wanted it more and as the line approached he stuck his neck out to gain the all important victory and cap off a great day for his trainer.

Race 7: Weatherbys Standard Open NH Flat Race (Grade 2)

  • Horaces Pearl - 14/1
  • Tripoli Flyer - 13/2
  • Good and Clever - 14/

As is tradition with the Grand National Festival, the final race of the three day meeting is flat race aimed at horses between 4 and 6 years old.

Usually a race that likes to throw up surprises, this year’s race was no exception as Horaces Pearl produced the shock at 14/1.

With Conor Brace holding Horaces Pearl up in the rear, he made his move three furlongs from home and caught up with the leaders. With just a furlong left to run he was neck and neck with stablemate Tripoli Flyer.

In what would be a race to remember for Fergal O’Brien, his two horses would battle it out to the line but it would be the longer shot of the two who would end up victorious.