Grand National 2018: Lalor claims poignant win for Kayley Woollacott

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    Lalor previously won Aintree’s Champion Bumper in April 2017
    Randox Health Grand National 2018
    Venue: Aintree Date: Saturday, 14 April, 17:15 BST
    BBC coverage: Commentary and updates on Radio 5 live; live text commentary on BBC Sport website. (Full coverage details)

    Lalor scored a poignant victory at Aintree’s Grand National meeting for trainer Kayley Woollacott.

    The 14-1 chance, ridden by champion jockey Richard Johnson, won the Top Novices’ Hurdle.

    It was a first Grade One winner for Kayley, who took over the training licence after her husband, Richard, died in January aged 40.

    “It’s an emotional day, but I had a little help from up above,” she said after Friday’s race.

    In other races on Ladies’ Day at Aintree, Politologue won the Melling Chase, while Ultragold took the Topham Chase over the National fences.

    Trainer Nicky Henderson followed up his Thursday treble with victories for Santini in the Sefton Novices’ Hurdle and Terrefort in the Mildmay Novices’ Chase.

    An ‘unbelievable’ triumph’

    Richard Woollacott saddled Beer Goggles to win the Long Distance Hurdle at Newbury in December

    Lalor, who was bought and trained by Richard Woollacott, won a bumper race at last year’s meeting.

    After his death, Kayley said her late husband had “achieved many amazing things despite battling mental health problems for many years”.

    Following another victory at Aintree, she stifled tears as she was swamped by well-wishers.

    “It’s unbelievable – I don’t know how that just happened,” she said.

    “This was a really special horse for me and Richard. We loved the horse from the moment he came to our yard.

    “The horse has kept everything going, and me on the straight and narrow.

    “I did say earlier I just want to go home. Racing is one of the toughest games, but in the last few months it has shown how supportive it can be.”

    Lalor beat Vision Des Flos by two lengths, with Bedrock in third.

    Johnson said: “It is hard to put into words. Lalor was Richard’s first big winner on this day last year, so for the horse to come here and do it again for the family in Richard’s memory is fantastic.”

    Politologue prevails for Nicholls

    Politologue (right) was an 11-1 shot in the Melling Chase

    The grey Politologue came out on top by just a neck after a thrilling duel with Min.

    Politologue, ridden by Sam Twiston-Davies for trainer Paul Nicholls, had finished fourth behind runner-up Min in last month’s Queen Mother Champion Chase, won by Altior at Cheltenham.

    But the pair were closer together this time as they drew clear of rivals before the 11-1 winner edged home for owner John Hales.

    Hales, whose popular grey chaser One Man was fatally injured in the race in 1998, said of Politologue: “He jumped for fun all the way round and it is a happier day than 20 years ago.”

    The 14-1 chance Ultragold, ridden by Harry Cobden, won the Topham Chase for the second year running in a one-two for trainer Colin Tizzard.

    Prominent throughout, the winner powered away from his stablemate to win by three and three-quarter lengths, with favourite Theatre Territory third and Kilcrea Vale fourth.

    Santini, ridden by Nico de Boinville, was a well-backed 6-4 favourite and gave Henderson his fifth Grade One victory of the meeting.

    “It’s down to a lot of very, very good horses. You can’t go without them,” said Henderson.

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