With the season drawing to its conclusion on Jumps Finals Day at Sandown on the weekend, racing fans are reflecting on another top-class season of National Hunt racing.
From a veteran producing an age-defying performance to one of the most memorable Grand Nationals in modern history, Aintree had its fair share of drama, excitement and achievements this season.
Here are Aintree’s five best moments of the 2020-21 National Hunt season.
5. Vieux Lion Rouge rolls the years back in the Becher Chase
Vieux Lion Rouge proved that age is just a number in the 2020 renewal of the Becher Chase, as David Pipe’s veteran stormed to victory on his five consecutive starts in the race.
A winner of the contest back in 2016, the then 11-year-old displayed an impeccable round of jumping and bolting away from Kimberlite Candy in the final stages to win by an incredible 24 lengths.
It was the ninth time that the veteran completed the Grand National circuit, which is a top-class achievement on its own merit.
Vieux Lion Rouge would go on to run in the 2021 Grand National but he suffered his first tumble on the circuit, falling at the 20th fence.
4. Nuts Well wins the 2020 Old Roan Chase
It was an emotional afternoon for 68-year-old trainer Ann Hamilton at the October Meeting when Nuts Well gave the Northumberland-based trainer her biggest success to date in the Grade 2 Old Roan Chase.
Coming from a small yard of six horses, the then nine-year-old battled alongside the big boys and he looked to be out of contention when making a poor jump at the fifth-last fence.
However, the gelding worked hard to sneak back into the race and produced a powerful stride to get past the leading Clondaw Castle in the home straight.
After a six-month break, Nuts Well returned to take a second in the Melling Chase at the Grand National before finishing sixth in the Celebration Chase on Jumps Finals Day at Sandown.
3. Thyme Hill lands Grade 1 success in the Ryanair Stayers’ Hurdle
A game winner of the Long Walk Hurdle, the seven-year-old was still hunting for a Grade 1 success and he faced his newfound rival in Paisley Park at Aintree.
Emma Lavelle’s staying star failed to live up to expectation, which left the door wide open for Thyme Hill.
The gelding was looking held by Roksana in the run-in, but Hobbs’ talent found more in the final strides and won by a neck.
2. Lake View Lad causes an upset in the Many Clouds Chase
Many Clouds was a much-loved horse in the National Hunt sphere, and there wasn’t a dry eye in the house when Lake View Lad produced an upset in the Trevor Hemmings silks in the Many Clouds Chase in December.
Even though Neil Alexander believed his gelding was aided with the three omitted fences in the run-in, it was hard not to be impressed with Lake View Lad’s hard-working ethic as he went on to claim victory by a length.
1. Rachael Blackmore wins the Grand National with Minella Times
The eight-year-old produced a faultless performance over the Grand National fences, holding off his stablemate Balko Des Flos as they approached the Elbow.
Blackmore kicked her mount on and he responded, clearing away to win by six and a half lengths to record victory and one that will live long in the memory.