Posted by Tania Kindersley.
Virtually the last sentence of the last blog post was: I like Ballabriggs. Who duly won in fine style, while I had not a penny on him. I had last minute doubts about whether he would stay, and he showed me what an idiot I was. The trainer's father, the doughty Ginger McCain, who trained Red Rum all those years ago, and is not a man of sentiment, had tears in his eyes.
I take my hat off to last year's winner, Don't Push It, who at the age of eleven, under the top weight of 11 stone 10, finished a brave third. And I was delighted to see Niche Market run so well. I had a little bit on him each way. It was a really impressive training performance by Paul Nicholls.
My lovely grey Scottish horse could not quite cope with the pace and the good ground. Although he jumped well all the way round, I got the impression he did not fall in love with Aintree. But he was not disgraced, and finished twelfth, and came home safe.
The dear veteran campaigners, Comply or Die and Hello Bud, felt their age under the hot sun and the fast pace. Hello Bud hunted round happily on the first circuit, and he jumped Beecher's Brook as if it were a training fence. Towards the end, he got very tired, and both he and Comply or Die were pulled up. They have both been wonderful horses on their day and I cherish the memories of their great leaps.
In a note of great sadness, Ornais and Dooneys Gate fell badly and had to be destroyed. There will be deep sorrow in the Nicholls' and Mullins' households tonight. My father lost a horse in the Grand National. His name was Earthstopper, and he ran a blinder, finishing a gallant fifth. After the post, he collapsed and died of a heart attack. I shall never forget that long drive home in the dark, to an empty box. For all the triumphs, there are the tragedies as well, and they remain engraved on one's heart.
National Hunt racing is a tough sport. There is no way to make it completely safe. A horse can break a leg on a Wednesday afternoon at Huntingdon just as easily as in the glare of the spotlight at Aintree. I know that some people get furious about it, and say the horses have no choice. In some ways this is true. On the other hand, they are bred for this, and they love it. There is no way you can get a big bold thoroughbred to do anything it does not want to. You will see horses who refuse to start, and no amount of booting by the jockey will persuade them to go if their old minds are set against it.
For all that I grew up in this business, and know too well the risks, there is always a shadow of melancholy cast by the thought of two beautiful creatures who will not come home. They give so much pleasure, and ask for very little in return. I salute them.
Some pictures, taken just now, in the evening light: