Nine-year-old thoroughbred Corach Rambler once again put Ireland on the National Hunt map after landing the 2023 Grand National.
The bay gelding, who was bred at Wellingtonbridge and is one of multiple National Hunt horses to be sired by Jeremy, also made history for Scottish horse racing. His win meant he would become just the third Scottish-trained winner of the Grand National, overseen by Lucinda Russell, who has form around Aintree.
Russell won the 2017 Grand National when One For Arthur stormed to victory with jockey Derek Fox on board. Fox would be the mount for Corach Rambler this time around, too, cementing Russell and Fox as a fruitful double act at Aintree.
It’s not often that pre-race favourites go on to justify their favouritism in the Grand National, with so many variables in play. The two laps of Aintree Racecourse offer one of the stiffest tests in jump racing anywhere on the planet. Nevertheless, Fox showed tremendous composure and patience to steer Corach Rambler free of any danger throughout.
Corach Rambler negotiates the uncertainty with impressive ease
Both Fox and Corach Rambler also coped admirably with the unforeseen 15-minute delay to the race. It was touch-and-go whether Fox would be fit enough to ride Corach Rambler in the National. The jockey needed last-minute approval to race after a recent shoulder injury, which was a big boost to Corach Rambler’s chances.
Having kept Corach Rambler out of trouble at all the fences and water jumps, Fox then steered him into the lead over the final fence of the race. Vanillier appeared to be the only horse capable of keeping within touching distance of him at this point. Nevertheless, Corach Rambler dug deep to keep Vanillier at arm’s length and claim the biggest prize in jump racing.
Fox described Corach Rambler as “so intelligent” and an “electric jumper” in his post-race discussions with the media.
It’s a stunning achievement for Corach Rambler’s connections, who acquired him in November 2020 for a cut-price £17,000. Prior to this, he had raced in a few meetings at Lisronagh, Mainstown and Ballycrystal but never at any of Ireland’s headline racecourses like The Curragh.
Since then, he has become a two-time champion of the Ultima Chase at the Cheltenham Festival and an Aintree Grand National winner, with total earnings of £678,471 at the time of writing.
What’s next on the agenda for Corach Rambler?
With very little left to prove to the racing world, Corach Rambler’s name will be etched in British horseracing history for eternity. However, his trainer, Russell, has intimated there is one more big showpiece race that could ideally suit him in 2024. With handicap races now seemingly out of the question, elite-level conditions races are likely to be the route taken. This means the Cheltenham Gold Cup is likely to be in the sights of his connections.
Corach Rambler is currently priced at 25/1 in the ante-post 2024 Cheltenham Gold Cup betting odds with bet365. This seems like a very fair price, given that he was on the bridle heading to the final jump in the National. The Stoke-on-Trent-based operator currently has one of the top three free horse racing bets for first-time users, which may offer a value opportunity for Irish punters considering a wager on Corach Rambler to compete alongside his stable mate Ahoy Senor in next year’s Gold Cup.
There is very little to separate Corach Rambler and Ahoy Senor in terms of race pace, but the way in which the former made everything look easy at Aintree is an indicator of his potential to improve further still. His run-in was a little laboured, which may leave some Gold Cup enthusiasts a little uneasy backing him to finish strongly up the Cheltenham hill, but with almost 12 months to get him in the right shape, he could be a dangerous foe for the likes of Galopin Des Champs.