David Carr (Racing Post)
Even the bleakest of situations can occasionally bring some joy. Ask the Ramblers, the seven strangers brought together by the Covid lockdown who have now won the world’s greatest chase.
They answered an advert to buy a horse with Lucinda Russell, who put them together in a partnership and the rest is history. Quite extraordinary history.
Winning back-to-back runnings of the Ultima Handicap Chase at Cheltenham was exceptional for a horse bought for just £17,000 – to add success in the Randox Grand National was the stuff of dreams.
“I have tears in my eyes, I’m pinching myself,” said William Wallace after the race on Saturday. He is originally from Glasgow and got into racing because: “When I was a wee boy, my uncle used to take me to write his betting slips for him.”
He recalled: “It was during Covid lockdown, the horse was advertised. We’ve all become friends. There are seven of us, we were complete strangers and now we’ve bonded around the horse.
“Derek Fox, what a genius. Thanks to him and Lucinda and Scu and everybody at the yard. It’s a dream come true.”
Wallace, who works in telecoms, now lives in Australia, and said: “I have a 9.30 flight tonight which I don’t think I’m going to make!”
Cameron Sword, 21 and a student at Heriot Watt University in Edinburgh, said: “We always thought the horse could do it, he’s a special horse. But you can never say ‘we’re going to win the National’ – it just doesn’t work like that.
“Derek Fox gave the horse an absolutely phenomenal ride. He was just soaring over those fences. The horse made it look easy, which is mind-blowing.”
“We are so privileged to be in this position. There’s very few that can say they’ve got to experience what we have. It’s all down to Lucinda and Scu and the hard work of the staff, day in day out, up early riding out.”
“It also shows you that you don’t need to invest millions in this sport. He was 17 grand, he’s won twice at Cheltenham and won the Grand National.”
Sword is old enough to know how lucky he has been, and said: “It’s a shame I’ve peaked too early! It’s never going to be anything like this again.”