The sort of thing that only happens in fairytales – amateur jockey Sam Waley-Cohen has steered Noble Yeats to Grand National victory in his final race before retirement.

It’s the perfect end to his career as the 39-year-old announced his intention to step down from the sport on Thursday, nominating Emmet Mullins’ charge as his farewell ride in the world’s most famous steeplechase.

An unlikely victor, he was sent off at 50-1 with few expecting Noble Yeats to strike in the extended four-and-a-quarter-mile showpiece – but he ran a magnificent race as he fended off the 15-2 favourite Any Second Now for a famous National success.


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Sam Waley-Cohen: “As soon as I asked him, he went”

HeraldScotland: Sam Waley-Cohen steers Noble Yeats to Grand National victory. Picture: PASam Waley-Cohen steers Noble Yeats to Grand National victory. Picture: PA

A jubilant Waley-Cohen – who won the Cheltenham Gold Cup with Long Run in 2011 – said: “He ran for me, he couldn’t go the early pace and I just tried to find pockets to give him a bit of space to run into. I found myself on the inner and was going more forward than I wanted to.

“He loves seeing his fences, so I kept trying to find a spot where he could see them. When I asked him he came, but if I just half-asked him he wasn’t confident, so I was trying to sit against him – he likes the bit in his mouth and your legs against him.

“I was just trying to get him in that nice rhythm and as soon as I asked him, he went.

“I thought I’d gone too early (at the last). I really didn’t want to get there then, but as soon as he picked up I thought ‘he’s gone, he’s got this’.

“Dad has always supported me unwaveringly, we’ve never had a cross word, it’s always been for fun. It’s been a love affair. To my wife, long-suffering, they aren’t all good days, there are bad days in this sport.

“We came here thinking the sun’s out, it’s your last ride – go and have a nice spin, no expectations. Just enjoy it.

“It’s a dream. I couldn’t believe it.”


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The Grand National full results

HeraldScotland: Just 15 of the 40 horses who started the Randox Grand National Handicap Chase finished the race. Picture: PAJust 15 of the 40 horses who started the Randox Grand National Handicap Chase finished the race. Picture: PA

Here is the finishing order of the 15 runners who finished the race from the original 40 horses.

1st Noble Yeats

2nd Any Second Now

3rd Delta Work

4th Santini

5th Fiddlerontheroof

6th Longhouse Poet

7th Freewheelin Dylan

8th Coko Beach

9tt Escaria Ten

10th Romain De Senam

11th Samcro

12th Commodore

13th Class Conti

14th Blaklion

15th Lostintranslation