Thursday 18 October 2018

Jolly Old Hedgehunter Victorious For Willie Mullins

After a couple of comparatively unsuccessful showings in the annually staged Grand National championships at Liverpool’s famous Aintree Racecourse, 2005 turned out to be a really lucky year for Ruby Walsh. Walsh attained an arguably impossible marvel by riding the largely little-known Willie Mullins-trained 9-year-old named Hedgehunter to scoop the momentous competition’s yearly awarded top-jockey title. The well-known champion also simultaneously brought Trevor Hemmings a great deal of fame as the event’s best-performing horse owner.

Nevertheless, it was all a rather fluky affair as all this gracious history would have been absolutely unwritten, had not the front-running Clan Royal’s excellent canter met with ill luck at the epochal Becher’s Brook….All in all, it’s all now an utterly futile case of one crying over the proverbial water that’s already oh-so-painfully but irretrievably spilt!

This year’s Grand National racing combat marked the 158th edition of the universally followed John Smith’s Grand National, due to sponsorship reasons. Featuring the traditional field of 40 contesters, the annual tourney attracted an extravagant lump-sum of £406,000 – a variously coveted bounty routinely set aside for the ultimate winner. The proud organizing bench had, in fact, availed an overall £700,000 as the cumulative reward kitty for the leading finishers.

A previous 7-1 shot, Hedgehunter pulled off a decisive victory of a thumping 14 lengths, thus completing the traditionally set circuit by an astonishingly historical timing of 9 minutes plus 21 seconds. Despite the outstanding performance, Ruby Walsh’s unyielding mount won the tough race under the unforgiving pursuit of the fiercely jackpot-chasing Royal Auclair…an indeed untiring 40-1 shot who would have reasonably outdone the leading pair had hard fate not so miserably worked against their tremendous hard work.

Separately, an even more unlikely trier – the 66-1 runner named Simply Gifted wowed Aintree’s totally staggered watchers when he beat all overwhelming odds to brilliant third finish.

One of the unmistakable aspects that made the 2005 equine gaming meet especially unforgettable is that the showpiece was moved back by about 25 minutes…this record-making rescheduling sought to avoid a time clash with the widely attended nuptial ceremonies of Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles.

The 2005 National also made an outstanding record in terms of human and equine safety ratings. Although the Frenchman’s Creek was retired shortly after the showdown’s hectic conclusion, there was at least something quite unique that organizers could really smile about. For the first time in many decades, slightly over half of the competing horses went back to the stables safely…the participating jockeys, similarly, were uncommonly fortunate to leave the renowned sporting battleground each in a rare, perfect physical frame.

Again, the history-making Forest Gunner’s rider generated a huge deal of international interest among the older game’s fans and pundits alike. The resilient female jockey Carrie Ford – had earlier enjoyed great publicity as a possible first-ever lady rider to bag the legendary National. However, forecast fortune eluded her some way or other – and the erstwhile inspiring racer only managed a rather lacklustre position five.

It seems all this overrated hype had emanated from the vastly regarded equestrian-gaming heroine’s and her comparably enigmatic runner’s excellent showings in a few preceding tournaments. As fate would have it, these glossy accolades in less momentous riding battles weren’t well replicated that day. As the actual titanic tussle came to a close, it eventually turned out that a less-shimmering fifth finish was the only solace destiny had had in store for the awesome duo, initially sent off as a prospective second-favourite.

Another memorable oddity that characterized the fantastic occasion was the sheer vast hordes in attendance. Reliable statistical evidence accurately put the final day’s crowd size at 70,850 – plus the cumulative 151,660 that graced the entire 72-hour-long gathering.

Dependable sources also show that the towering showpiece’s crowd numbers can only be outdone by those of the prominent 1997 Monday National, Aintree’s largest multitudes that ever attended any English racing meet in the whole history of this noble sport.

Despite the earlier National edition’s figures seeming significantly bigger, this one proved to be a doubtless more competitive scuffle. Each of the 40 contestants appeared way fiercely more aggressive than ever before. As some of the watching pundits following the spirited fight famously remarked, all participating pair looked strikingly well-prepared and gallant enough.

These well-verified claims are further resoundingly corroborated by Hedgehunter’s superior record. For the uninformed, the jackpot-winning horse happened to break the long-preexisting 11-stone mark that day…and thus became the first triumphing sprinter to try and effectively smash under-11st-1lb-runner record that had stood stoutly unshaken for a thumping 22 years!

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