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‘He's going to be a Gold Cup horse’ - I Am Maximus greatest in Liverpool

3 minute read

I Am Maximus landed the world’s most famous steeplechase when staying on strongly to score in the 2024 Randox Grand National under Paul Townend.

I AM MAXIMUS winning the Grand National Handicap Chase at Aintree in Liverpool, England.
I AM MAXIMUS winning the Grand National Handicap Chase at Aintree in Liverpool, England. Picture: Michael Steele/Getty Images

The 7/1 joint-favourite, who landed last year's Irish equivalent, stayed on best of all to deny Delta Work and the Racheal Blackmore-ridden Minella Indo.

Last year's Grand National hero, Corach Rambler caused plenty of early drama when unseating rider Derek Fox at the first fence and although four of the 34 contestants unseated, there were no fallers in the Aintree feature.

The JP McManus-owned eight-year-old travelled strongly throughout the four-mile two-and-a-half-furlong contest and quickened up smartly rounding the elbow. The 2022 third-placed contender Delta Work set off in hot pursuit up the Aintree run-in, but Gordon Elliott's charge never really looked like bridging the gap and I Am Maximus strolled clear for a commanding seven-and-a-half length success.

2021 Gold Cup winner Minella Indo, who was partnered by the first female Grand National-winning rider Rachael Blackmore, finished a further half-length behind in third.

Willie Mullins, who last saddled the Grand National winner back in 2005 with Hedgehunter, said: "I could see all the time that Paul was happy with where he was, just looking for room, looking for daylight, and he eventually got it and set him alight. He made little of his mark, and that means he's going to be a Gold Cup horse.

"It's extraordinary how we came to have him. Nicky Henderson had him after Henrietta Knight bought him for Mike Grech. When Mike moved his horses to Ireland Nicky said make sure you get that horse, and so thanks to Nicky and thanks to Henrietta, who organised all of that. That's why we are here today.

"At home, he's just another horse. He never shows me on the gallop that he's a champion. Rachael rides him and he's an easy enough horse to ride. He's nearly a stable pet. If you see him out in the field you wouldn't pass any remark, but he's obviously got an engine.

"When you win a Bobbyjo like that, that's obviously one of the best trials for the National and he just ran away with it, which was just extraordinary. That's when I started to really think we had a real live chance.

"Paul is just riding so well at the moment. He's just riding with such confidence, and like any sportsman with such confidence, things just happen for you. The ball bounces the right way and Paul is just seeing things that other jockeys aren't seeing at the moment.

"It's right up there. It puts us right up there with a chance of an English title and it's another National for JP. What more could you ask for.

"The first National we won I was on cloud nine for the whole year until they passed the post the following year, and so hopefully it will be like that again this year. Winning the National is just special. It's the first race we all see on TV and Aintree, with the spectacle and the atmosphere, just makes it a special race to win."

It was the first success in the Merseyside feature for jockey Paul Townend, who was riding in the contest for the 13th time. "It was an unbelievable race and he's an unbelievable horse. It's a bit surreal, to be honest. I ended up actually being first down to the first to give him a look but when I got to the Melling Road he started backing off it, so it was not a great start," explained Townend.

Grand National success saw Mullins net the healthy sum of £500,000 going towards the British trainer's title, an event the Closutton-based handler now heads the betting with most major UK bookmakers.

Mullins added: "Now we've won the National we'll have to give it a good go, we are there with a chance so we might see you all in Sandown, Perth, Ayr – where is there!

"I'm buzzing here now at the moment and it's huge. As far as I know, our team is back in full order with no injuries or anything and I'm happy that we have a full complement of horses and riders coming back in."

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