Sam Waley-Cohen did not have a ride in the Crabbie’s Grand National yesterday morning. But after his father Robert bought Black Thunder in the evening, he will now line up aboard the Paul Nicholls-trained son of Malinas on Saturday.
Robert Waley-Cohen, chairman of Cheltenham race course, paid £90,000 for the nine-year-old.
This ride will be a nice bonus for Sam, since a ban ruled him out of the Crabbie’s Fox Hunters’ Chase on Thursday, a race he has won three times.
Sam Waley-Cohen, one of Prince William’s best friends and credited for getting him back together with Kate Midleton back in 2007, has an incredible record over the National fences.
He came fourth on Oscar Time in 2013 in the Crabbie’s Grand National and finished second on the same horse in 2011.
He has enjoyed six wins over the Grand National fences including back-to-back victories on Katarino in the 2005 and 2006 Fox Hunters’ Chases. He is currently the most successful rider over the Grand National fences.
Black Thunder’s four wins over fences include a hat-trick as a novice during the 2013/14 season. His latest victory was at Sandown in December, 2014, after which he was not disgraced when outclassed by Many Clouds, Smad Place, Dynaste and The Giant Bolster at Cheltenham.
Black Thunder has raced only three times this season, most recently in another three-miler at Sandown when behind Le Reve, a horse he will be taking on again in the Crabbie’s Grand National on Saturday.
Irish success at Aintree so far
Ruby Walsh is joint top with Bryan Cooper in the jockey competition, with each securing a win, a second and a third-place yesterday.
Willie Mullins is looking to become the first Irish-based trainer to win the British Champion Jump Trainers’ Championship since Vincent O’Brien in 1952/53 and 1953/54.
He is currently just behind 9-time winner Nicky Henderson. At the start of play yesterday Henderson had accumulated £1,974,092 over the course of the season, with Mullins on £1,727,619.