French Chestnut Gelding Al Co survived a late scare to win the 2014 Scottish Grand National on Saturday, beating Godsmejudge and Thrustan Times at the Ayr Racecourse.
The French horse was considered a long shot to win Scotland's most prestigious steeple chase at 40-1, making plenty of lucky betters very happy on their way to a huge payout.
|Scottish Grand National Full results|
|PU||Rigadin de Beauchene|
|PU||Nuts N Bolts|
|PU||Roalco De Farges|
|PU||Fill The Power|
|PU||Sir Du Bairn|
Al Co seemed to be distracted with the finish in sight, forcing jockey Jamie Moore to hold on for dear life as he staggered across the finish line of what had already been a tumultuous race.
As reported by the BBC's Cornelius Lysaght, Battle Group caused a false start and ended up refusing to race, making this the second straight race where the horse has caused problems in a Grand National after last week's issues at Aintree.
This fan saw the humour of the situation:
So did the BBC's Francis Keogh:
Last year's winner, Godsmejudge, came in second and threatened the surprise winner until the very end, with the final margin of victory less than two lengths. Thrustan Times and Merry King were the two other horses who kept things close for the duration of the race, with the latter falling off prior to the last fence.
Trainer Peter Bowen was understandably ecstatic at the conclusion of the race as he told Sky Sports the horse had looked great going into the race:
He was in the best form we've ever had him. Luckily, we've got Ffos Las up the road and he had a racecourse gallop there and he was absolutely spot on for today.
I didn't see what happened on the run-in. I'd got four horses to watch and it was a job to keep an eye on them all. It's fantastic to win this race.
Jamie Moore told Sky Sports the horse had been startled prior to the final run-up, making the win all the more memorable:
Peter told me he had him spot on, but twice up the run-in he spooked at boards or something. It's the first time he's run for a while and I'm delighted to ride a big winner for Peter.
Al Co and Green Flag seemed to cope best with the difficult race conditions, with the former taking charge of the race at around the halfway point. Favoured horses like Godsmejudge and Thrustan Times looked like they were closing the gap late, but the lead Al Co had built turned out to be too great to overcome.
The winners, Moore and Bowen, will take £113,900, with the rest of the top four taking £42,740, £21,400 and £10,660 respectively.
Trainer Bowen will now have his eyes set on the biggest prize of them all, the Grand National, as he preps his horse Al Co going into said race next year.
With Battle Group's horrid showing in both events these last two weeks, one has to wonder what the future will hold for last year's Grand National winner. Refusing to start in consecutive races is a bad look for any horse, and usually not a very good sign with an eye toward the future.
Back to extensive training could be an option here, as the alternative of the horse's career coming to a sudden and unexpected end seems to be the most realistic option at this point.