Beforehand, the 2021 Grand National was all about Cloth Cap, who was officially 14lb ‘well in’ at the weights and, consequently, sent off 11/2 favourite to become a record-breaking fourth winner of the Aintree showpiece for owner Trevor Hemmings. However, despite apparently having everything in his favour, Cloth Cap weakened quickly after stumbling at the fourth-last fence as was soon pulled up. Trainer Jonjo O’Neill later reported that Cloth Cap made an abnormal respiratory noise.
Long-time leader Jett surrendered the lead on the home turn, leaving a bevy of Irish-trained horses, headed by the eventual winner, Minella Times, to fight out the finish. At the second-last fence, Minella Times led, narrowly, from stable companion Balko Des Flos, Burrows Saint and the staying on Any Second Now, but extended his advantage at the final fence. Approaching the ‘Elbow’, Minella Times was about 4 lengths ahead and was ridden out to win by 6½ lengths. He was followed home by Balko Des Flos, Any Second Now, Burrows Saint and Farclas, as Irish-trained horses filled the first five places.
Minella Times was a second Grand National winner for owner J.P. McManus, after Don’t Push It in 2010, and a first for trainer Henry de Bromhead. However, his name is etched, indelibly, into the record books alongside that of Rachael Blackmore, who created history by becoming the first female jockey to win the Grand National.