Don’t Push It

Don't Push It

Carin06  – AP McCoy & Don’t Push ItCC2.0

In a remarkable career in the saddle, Sir Anthony McCoy rode over 4,000 winners but, as far as the wider public is concerned, achieved his crowning glory when winning the 2010 Grand National on Don’t Push It.

In fifteen previous attempts, McCoy had finished third in the celebrated steeplechase three times – on Blowing Wind twice, in 2001 and 2002, and Clan Royal in 2006 – but never won. Nevertheless, despite being pulled up on his previous start in the Pertemps Network Final at the Cheltenham Festival, where he reportedly ‘appeared to lose interest’, Don’t Push It was the subject of a public gamble, from 20/1 to 10/1 joint-favourite, on Grand National Day.

The market support proved well founded. The 10-year-old was well placed, just behind the leaders, heading out into the country for the second time and, despite making a mistake at the fence after Valentine;s Brook, was one of a group of four horses that drew clear with two fences left to jump. He tackled the leader, Black Apalachi, at the final fence and, although idling on the infamously long run-in, drew away in the closing stages to win by 5 lengths. McCoy later confessed, ‘It means everything to me to win the Grand National.’

Collectively, McCoy, winning trainer Jonjo O’Neill and winning owner John ‘J.P.’ McManus had made 62 attempts to win the Grand National. Don’t Push It was retired in January, 2012, at which point O’Neill reflected, ‘I think we’ll always remember the magical day he won the Grand National…as we had all been trying to win the race for so many years.’

Aldaniti & Bob Champion

Few, if any, Grand National stories can rival that of the 1981 winner Aldaniti and his jockey Bob Champion. Indeed, the heart-warming tale was described by the late Josh Gifford, who trained Aldaniti, as ‘the stuff of dreams’ and immortalised in the 1984 film ‘Champions’.

Aldaniti was a talented, if fragile, steeplechaser with a history of leg trouble. In 1979, he had finished third, albeit well beaten, in the Cheltenham Gold Cup and second in the Scottish National at Ayr, where he led over the final fence. However, the following November, at Sandown, he broke down badly and was confined to his box, in plaster, for six months. In fact, he would have been humanely euthanised if the veterinary surgeons had had their way.

Meanwhile, Champion, 31, had been diagnosed with testicular cancer and was faced within the unenviable choice of a maximum eight months to live or a maximum 40% chance of survival if he embarked, immediately, on a ‘barbaric’ course of chemotherapy. Unsurprisingly, he chose the latter and was promised by Gifford that his job as stable jockey would be waiting for him upon his return.

Return he did, albeit after seven months in and out of hospital, as did Aldaniti. They were reunited in the Whitbread Trial Chase at Ascot in February, 1981, winning easily, and Aldaniti suddenly became a leading fancy for the Grand National. At Aintree, Aldaniti was sent off 10/1 second favourite and, despite overjumping the first fence, took the lead early on the second circuit and was never headed thereafter. On the run-in, favourite Spartan Missile briefly looked dangerous, but Aldaniti stayed on well in the closing stages to win by 4 lengths.