Banburyshire amateur jockey Sam Waley-Cohen wins Grand National on his retirement race 'with my brother' who died of cancer
Banburyshire amateur jockey, Sam Waley Cohen, has made history winning the Grand National this afternoon (Saturday) on his retirement race – and his brother, who died of cancer, was ‘riding with me’.
Mr Waley Cohen, whose family home is at Upton Viva, near Edge Hill, won the race on his father Robert’s new horse Noble Yeats in a thrilling National that will go down in history.
The family lost Thomas, aged 20, to Ewings Sarcoma, a bone cancer that affects mainly boys, in 2004.
Older brother Sam – 40 next Friday - is an amateur jockey so is not paid for riding’ he ‘does it for fun’. He is a dentistry entrepreneur and has ridden a great career part time. He will get no prize money for today’s triumph.
But he is an extraordinarily accomplished amateur rider, having won the Cheltenham Gold Cup, in 2011, aged 20, the King George Cup and now at 40 – after winning seven times over Aintree fences and today in his final race - the world’s most famous steeplechase Grand National.
Noble Yeats is a seven-year-old recently bought by Mr Waley-Cohen senior. The horse is trained by young trainer Emmet Mullins. He was running at odds of 50 – 1.
After the race Sam Waley Cohen told ITV commentator Alice Plunkett (whose family owns one of the favourites to win the race, Snow Leopardess): “Thomas is sitting on my back. I ride with his name on my saddle. These days are family days and honestly you couldn’t make it up could you?”
Father Robert Waley Cohen in an emotional interview said: “It’s a dream come true. I can’t speak. He can’t go without the horse and the horse can’t go without the jockey so it’s a team and thank God it’s worked.
"It’s just fabulous. It’s dedication and hard work. Sam’s won such great races and we’ve had so much fun. It’s joy and sadness but it’s all coming to an end. The horse is only seven – a novice – so he could be here a good many years yet – but not with Sam on board.
“It’s an amazing story and for Sam this has been a lifelong dream,” he said.
Snow Leopardess, trained by Charlie Longsdon of Hull Farm stables, Chipping Norton, was pulled up.