Grand National winning jockey Ryan Mania emerged victorious on his return to the saddle after two years’ retirement, to claim the ribbons in the Countryside Alliance charity race at Aintree on Sunday 23rd October.
Ryan, 27, who is now master huntsman of the Berwickshire hunt, raced over a mile and a half of the hallowed Aintree turf against eight riders representing other hunts, all on horses borrowed from top trainers.
In a close finish, Ryan was closely followed by bloodstock agent David Redvers and Aintree staff member Molly Dingwall.
Between them, the charity riders have raised more than £10,000 for The Countryside Alliance Foundation projects, Fishing 4 Schools, Casting for Recovery and Falconry for Schools.
Ryan said: “It’s a great relief to have won! I think I might have been a little disappointed not to have come home first today but it was a truly run race. David (Redvers) very nearly had me, despite carrying 5lb more than I was. I think I just got him on tactics and of course I had a great horse (Donald McCain’s Lexi’s Boy).
“It felt really good to be back but I have no plans to make a return – I’ll stick to hunting hounds!”
The race was just part of the fun at the Aintree Countryside Family Raceday. A full day’s racing took place after the charity event, with the Old Roan Chase attracting big names including Melling Chase winner God’s Own, the Dan Skelton’s Three Musketeers, Hennessy Gold Cup winner Smad Place and Gary Moore’s Sire De Grugy.
Race-goers also enjoyed a host of family and country orientated fun, from pony rides and the Lamb National – the famous race run by sheep! – to a fly casting demo, displays of greyhounds and falconry and laser clays, as well as lots of shopping.