Undoubtedly my favourite Grand National winner within my own lifetime has to be the 2009 winner Mon Mome.
Perhaps the fact that I placed several ante-post bets on the Venetia Williams-trained runner might have something to do with it, but it was probably more to do with the immense joy and satisfaction I got from cracking my favourite race in the world so many months out from the actual event – a feat I still attempt every single year.
The Plot And The Gamble
I first latched onto Mon Mome as a prospective Grand National candidate in March 2006 when he finished second in the Kim Muir and from that day forward I avidly observed from afar how Venetia Williams was plotting his races.
He made all the right mood music in 2007 and was entered for the National in April 2008, but it came a year too early for him in my opinion and he could only finish 10th behind Comply Or Die.
At that juncture in time, most punters had already written him off as a horse that wouldn’t return to the Grand National again and win.
Horses that had failed previously simply didn’t do that, but I had faith that this French-bred AQPS horse had yet another stamina laden race in him somewhere, so I was very pleased when Williams began to quietly draw up plans again for a stab at the 2009 renewal.
Season 08/09 started well for the gelding with a December win over 3m 4f at Cheltenham and then he gave us a decent enough showing in the Welsh Grand National.
I was fairly content things were ticking along nicely right up to February until he underperformed in the Grand National Trial at Haydock (I was there that day).
I was hoping at that point he would be given a rest until April but low and behold Williams ran him in an attritional Midlands Grand National a month later where he was beaten 57 lengths.
He was then trading at odds of around 110/120-1 on the exchanges and I was beginning to think my average odds of 50/1 were not only looking small, but pretty slim!
A few more spare pounds were invested but that was pretty much it for my horse racing online bets.
So fast-forward to April 4th 2009 and we all know what happened next. Mon Mome became the biggest-priced Grand National betting winner since Foinavon and powered home at 100-1 for trainer Venetia Williams and jockey Liam Treadwell.
Pan around the camera (if there was one) to the far out West Tip seats, and there is sat a totally bewildered me, struggling to digest and comprehend what I had just witnessed. It was a day I will never forget.
Mon Mome, now more affectionately known as ‘Monnie’ is living out his retirement at Sarah McQueen’s livery yard in Herefordshire.
I was lucky enough to catch up with him and Sarah at Aintree a few seasons ago and explained to her that Mon Mome literally changed my life when he won the Grand National and I’ll admit there were a few tears.
*Credit for all the photo in this article belongs to Steve Mullington*