04/09/2016 1:29PM

Rule the World scores upset in Grand National


Rule the World, a 9-year-old gelding who began his career in Irish point-to-point amateur races, won the $1.4 million Grand National steeplechase at Aintree Racecourse near Liverpool, England, on Saturday.

The grueling race at 4 1/4 miles and 30 fences was the first win over fences in a professional race for Rule the World, who races for Michael O’Leary’s Gigginstown House Stud and trainer Mouse Morris of Ireland.

Rule the World, sent off at 33-1 with British bookmakers, had won five professional races over hurdles and one race over fences at the Affane point-to-point in Ireland in late 2011 in his first start.

Rule the World was part of a field of 39 in the Grand National, England’s most popular race.

Ridden by 19-year-old David Mullins, Rule the World raced behind the leaders for the first 3 1/2 miles before moving into contention three fences from the finish. Rule the World took the lead in the last quarter-mile and won by six lengths over The Last Samuri, the 8-1 co-favorite.

Vics Canvas, a 100-1 shot, finished third, while Many Clouds, the winner of the 2015 Grand National, finished 16th, the last horse to finish the race. Many Clouds, the 8-1 co-favorite, was in contention until a poor jump at the 26th fence.

There were no significant injuries reported among the field in the initial hours after the race.

Mullins, the nephew of leading Irish steeplechase trainer Willie Mullins, won his first Grand National on Rule the World. Mullins said he was concerned that Rule the World had lost his chance with a poor jump four fences from home.

“I was getting worried that everything was going to plan and then we hit the fourth-last,” Mullins said. “I couldn’t give you a word to describe how I feel.”

Rule the World is the third major stakes win for O’Leary in the last month. His stable won the Cheltenham Gold Cup, England’s leading weight-for-age race for steeplechasers, on March 18 with Don Cossack, who is trained by Gordon Elliott. Gigginstown House Stud and Morris won the Irish Grand National at Fairyhouse on March 28.

O’Leary is the chief executive of Ryanair, the Ireland-based discount airline.

In the winner’s circle, Morris, whose formal name is Michael, paid tribute to his late son, Christopher, who died last summer of carbon monoxide poisoning while traveling in Argentina.

Rule the World, by Sulamani, has won 6 of 25 official races. Purchased for approximately $100,000 as an unraced 3-year-old, Rule the World was second in a Grade 1 steeplechase for novices last December. The Grand National ended a 14-race losing streak since the Grade 3 Limestone Lad Hurdle in Ireland in January 2014. Rule the World was second in seven races during that time.