(Reuters) - Tiger Roll wrote his name into Grand National folklore with a second successive victory at Aintree on Saturday — the first horse to claim back-to-back triumphs since Red Rum 45 years ago.
Second behind Magic of Light approaching the last of the 30 fences, Tiger Roll, ridden again by jockey Davy Russell, burst into the lead and raced away to win by three lengths.
Magic of Light was second with Rathvinden third.
There was one fatality after Up For Review fell heavily at the first fence, suffering severe injuries.
Tiger Roll, the hot pre-race favorite, owned by Ryanair chief-executive Michael O’Leary and trained by Gordon Elliott, stayed clear of trouble but made a small mistake four fences from home.
He showed his class, however, and as his rivals began to tire towards the end of the four-mile slog, he found another gear to streak home in the spring sunshine.
Red Rum, a horse which became a national icon, won in 1973 and 1974 and again in 1977.
“He’s just an unbelievable horse,” the 39-year-old Russell said of his mount. “I can’t believe it. At my age now to win two Grand Nationals — wow!”
Trainer Elliott could hardly contain his joy in the winners’ enclosure, jumping around and hugging the horse that was bought for 10,000 pounds ($13,000) to “sell on” because he was thought to be on the slow side.
“What a horse, what a horse,” Elliott said. “We worked very hard for this the whole time and I have a brilliant team behind me. Davy Russell’s mum died last year and this was for her.”
Elliott also trained 2007 winner Silver Birch.
O’Leary added: “It’s incredible. I thought he had no chance. What a horse. He keeps improving I just don’t understand him. I’m so thrilled.”
Reporting by Martyn Herman, editing by Ed Osmond and Pritha Sarkar