Grand National winning Noble Yeats gets heroic homecoming

50-1 Grand National winner Noble Yeats was a surprise to most punters but the historic victory for the seven-year-old was no shock to the Waley-Cohens or Emmet Mullins, who always retained faith.

Noble Yeats, the 50-1 shock winner of Saturday's Aintree Grand National was given a hero's reception in the Irish village of Leighlinbridge on Sunday evening.

Alongside the victorious horse was the winning trainer Emmet Mullins, the winning jockey Sam Waley-Cohen and his father Robert.

It was a family fairytale ending with Robert buying the horse for his son specifically to ride in the National and Sam producing a ride of a lifetime to negotitate the huge fences and come home in front.

Retiring with a Grand National in the bag is a sweet ending for Waley-Cohen junior.

"It's an incredible high, there's so much goodwill and it's a thrill to be here. It's a special day, a special occasion.

"Nothing has really sunk in, these things take time before you really appreciate it. You're still floating along - and I've got a busy week at work coming up! Then I'll try to get a few days away and let it sink in more."

Looking back at the race, he said: "When he picked up and went to the front he just felt like he lifted off the ground. I didn't get the perfect stride at the last, I went down a little bit and I thought 'I've got to fight for the elbow', but as soon as he went back up I thought he had plenty (left). And that was it.

"He fought for me, and he's really got acceleration. Back when Patrick Mullins won on him, I watched the replays and there were times he's been asked for his effort and he's really found a lot. You knew he had it.

"He'll stay here and do a summer here, he'll definitely stay with Emmet and his team. We'll think about trying to get him back for the National - I'm sure the handicapper will have something to say. Hopefully we have a chance to be competitive still. Why not go back and try again?"

Of trainer Mullins, he said: "It's amazing, he's 32 and he's so clever and has believed in the horse and produced him. We really admire what he's doing and what he's done.

"We have horses with Neil Mulholland, we like to have horses with younger trainers who have proved they know what they are doing."

Mullins was nonplussed by the win being a first for a seven-year-old since 1940 saying "I didn't even know the stats about seven-year-olds, I wouldn't know where to look up stats! It wasn't on my mind, I was happy with the horse.

"I was able to watch no bother, I didn't get to see much of the first circuit and coming past the stand for the second circuit I had to take a deep breath. I just said 'this is a position where winners come from' - he was in position A.

"At the Melling Road I took my second blow, Sam was confident enough to take that hold and follow them round into the straight. You were trying to pinch yourself as it was still there for the taking.

"He was taking Sam there, it was a massive performance."

Waley-Cohen senior added: "We're revelling in the pleasure of it. What could be more enjoyable, and it's so special to come over and parade the horse and do something for everybody here. It's a party!"

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