Grand National memories: Amberleigh House edges Clan Royal in 2004
The year 2004 saw the end of a 12-year relationship for Aintree with Martell Cognac as the main sponsor of the Grand National, and they got a finale that will live long in the memory.
There were four co-favourites all starting at 10/1. The Tony McCoy ridden Jurancon III, 2002 winner Bindaree and the Jonjo O’Neill trained pairing of Joss Naylor and Clan Royal, twice a winner over the fences, with Hedgehunter close behind at 11/1.
Fancied at 16/1 was Amberleigh House who had finished third the year before and had gone extremely close in an epic battle with Clan Royal in the Becher Chase.
The start of the race saw Hedgehunter bounce out early with his stablemate Alexander Banquet, and they set a searching gallop which put a premium on the jumping ability of the whole field. We lost Jurancon III at the fourth fence before Bindaree was badly hampered, and lost Carl Llewellyn at Becher’s with eight other rivals also having their chances ended.
Amberleigh House was lucky to not be one of those, as he had to jump the fence from a standstill. Going out onto the second circuit, Hedgehunter had given a bold sight out in front.
Joss Naylor on the other hand, was sulking in rear having not taken to the experience and was pulled up at the nineteenth fence. Meanwhile, his stablemate Clan Royal had taken off under jockey Liam Cooper on the run to Becher’s, pulling his arms out. A mistake five out proved costly as Cooper dropped his whip.
Going to the final fence, Clan Royal, outsider Lord Atterbury and Hedgehunter were all out on their feet, the latter falling. For a while though, slowly and steadily, Amberleigh House had made ground up gradually and was with a fighting chance as Clan Royal wandered round like a drunk looking for the nearest kebab house on a Friday night.
After the Elbow, Amberleigh House surged past Clan Royal to give Ginger McCain his fourth and final win in the world’s greatest steeplechase. Relive this thrilling finish below: