When he romped home in first place on Auroras Encore in 2013 few could believe their eyes. Gone were the favourites and instead was the 66/1 long shot who had only just scraped into the National proceedings.
For trainer Sue Smith and jockey Ryan Mania it was a dream come true and wholly unexpected but hoping to top that extraordinary achievement, Mania has now set his sights on the double when he rides out on Mr Moonshine on Saturday.
With the same owners and connections as Auroras Encore, it would propel the team into the history books if they did back-to-backs with two different horses and at 33/1 they’ve got a very good chance.
For Mania, it is the chance to become the first jockey since Brian Fletcher aboard Red Rum in 1973 and 1974 to win the National back-to-back.
It’s been a big year for Ryan Mania. In April he won the Grand National and then in September his partner Edwina gave birth to their first child, Rowan Timothy.
Speaking about the last 12 months in The Scotsman Mania said “In the space of a year or so, from becoming Braw Lad to finding out that I was going to be a dad, then winning the Grand National, and then becoming a father, it was just extraordinary.
“I have also done so much that I would not normally have done, such as making appearances at events and a lot of media work, which I really enjoy.”
Talking about the horses connections Mania said: “I haven’t known Douglas Pryde long but I’ve known Jim since I started in racing and he’s always been a lovely man. I always wanted to ride for him and it was like a fairytale that I rode a National winner for him – something he had always wanted.”
So can Mr Moonshine outshine Auroras Encore? “He’s got a great chance.
“He should be in the first ten in the betting, he’s a classy horse and the only negative is ‘does he stay?’ and, if he stays, he’ll be bang there.”
“He’s a different horse this year, so I’m hoping that we can get involved in the finish.”
Picture by: Anna Gowthorpe/PA Archive/Press Association Images