04/06/2013 11:26AM

Grand National: Auroras Encore upsets at 66-1


Auroras Encore, a 66-1 longshot who had lost his last eight races, scored a convincing win in Saturday’s Grand National at Aintree Racecourse, a first career win in Britain’s most popular race for trainer Sue Smith and jockey Ryan Mania.

An 11-year-old gelding making his 44th start, Auroras Encore was held up for most of the race over 4 3/8 miles, but emerged from a stalking position in the final half-mile to challenge for the lead. Auroras Encore led after the last fence, and pulled clear to win by nine lengths over 12-1 Cappa Bleu.

The victory marked a comeback for Mania, who quit riding in 2011 before returning to the saddle. Auroras Encore, second in the 2012 Scottish Grand National, raced over good to good-to-soft ground.

“He gave him such a good ride,” Smith said to a British television audience. “We knew the ground was with him today. We hoped everything else was with him and it was. He’s had a bit of luck in running, hasn’t he? He didn’t have a lot of weight either, so I suppose that helped.”

Auroras Encore carried 143 pounds, 21 pounds lower than topweighted Imperial Commander, who was pulled up.

Teaforthree, a 10-1 shot who looked poised to win through the last half-mile, finished third in the field of 40. All of the runners and riders returned from the race without mishap. There were 17 finishers. Seabass, the 11-2 favorite, finished 13th