Sam Waley-Cohen signed off his career in style by winning the 2022 Grand National on outsider Noble Yeats.
The 50-1 shot relished the jumping test and stayed on in determined fashion to defeat the favourite Any Second Now. After jumping 30 fences, both horses went head-to-head up the famous run-in, but it was the longshot who served up a shock result.
Owned by the jockey's father Robert Waley-Cohen, Noble Yeats was a first runner in the race for trainer Emmet Mullins. It was the winning rider's seventh triumph around the Grand National course – a terrific record for an amateur jockey.
"I can’t say anything, I can’t believe it," the 39-year-old jockey said, returning in front of a sellout crowd.
"I have to say thank-yous, as it’s my last ever ride, to Dad [Robert Waley-Cohen, winning owner] – he’s had unwavering belief and love for 23 years. It's been a love affair. That’s beyond words, it’s a fairytale and a fantasy. I’m full of love and happiness and gratefulness."
It was Waley-Cohen's 10th ride in the Grand National and his final appearance came on the back of three placed efforts.
Before today's renewal, the amateur jockey had completed the course five times from nine attempts in the big race. In 2011 he became the first amateur since Jim Wilson in 1981 to win the Cheltenham Gold Cup when aboard Long Run, a horse owned by his father Robert.
The chaser defeated previous winners Denman and Kauto Star in a memorable renewal.
His winning run at Aintree began with back-to-back victories in the Foxhunters’ Chase with Katarino in 2005 and 2006.
Before the race, Waley-Cohen, 39, said: “It just sort of came together to bow out here today really. I probably thought about it last year, but I had so much fun on Jett that I wanted one more go! I’ve been pondering it for the season and I really focus my seasons towards Cheltenham and Aintree – just because I’ve got a few other things going on too.
“I loved Cheltenham and my 20th year of riding at The Festival when my ambition was always to have just one ride there so I felt like I’d experienced everything I wanted to.
“I thought I’d maybe slipped them at one stage on Jett and he just gave me such a good bounce around, it’s his fault that I’m still here this year!
“The Grand National and the fences have been a bit of a love affair for me, I love the people of Liverpool and the atmosphere here and I get such a kick out of riding the fences.
“My boyhood fantasy really was to ride in the Grand National, which was an impossible dream for an amateur. One of my earliest memories is pretending to ride in the National so to actually ride in it and to have to chance to line up and say goodbye to everyone at the course I love is certainly fulfilling that dream."
A total of 15 runners completed the course. Rachael Blackmore's race ended early when last year's winner Minella Times fell. All of the horses went back to the racecourse stables, ITV reported in the post-race debrief.
Full result for the 2022 Grand National
1. Noble Yeats 50-1
2. Any Second now 15-2f
3. Delta Work 10-1
4. Santini 33-1
5. Fiddlerontheroof 12-1
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