Ayala won the 1963 Grand National but the fact that he won was a shock to all – he was one of eighteen 66-1 outsiders in a field of forty-seven contenders. Not only that but included in the competition were past winners Mr What, Kilmore and Nicolaus Silver. His win of three quarters of a length from Carrickbeg fulfilled a lifetime ambition of his trainer and half-owner Keith Piggott who had bought Ayala for 250 guineas at Epsom three years previously.
Sired out of Admiral’s Bliss by Supertello (the 1950 Ascot Gold Cup winner) and bred by J.P. Philipps at the Dalham Hall Stud, unfortunately poor Ayala was never well regarded, fetching just four hundred guineas at the 1954 Newmarket December sales. He proved himself to be diabolical on the Flat and promptly found himself back at the sales where he sold for a mere forty guineas.
Back at the sales again, he was bought as a three year old, to be used as a hunter by John Chapman from Dorset – a patron of Piggott. Even as a hunter he disappointed so he was tried over hurdles and sent off to the sales once again which is where he was bought by Piggott, who gave a half share to the London hairstylist Mr ‘Teasy Weasy’ Raymond.
Piggott’s judgement that Ayala would be a good chaser was the first time anyone had believed in the horse or seen any bit of potential, and under his guidance the chestnut gelding won three chases in the 1960-61 season. Unfortunately his good beginning under Piggott was short-lived as the following season he had leg trouble and had to pin fired.
Therefore by the time he came to his first Grand National at Aintree, the horse really had little to no experience despite his nine years – and this was reflected in his starting price of 140-1. Despite this, some did have faith in him as he had won a three mile chase just eleven days prior to the race where he had demonstrated that he did have the kind of stamina to get him through as tough a race as the National.
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Throughout the National Ayala made but one mistake – hitting the Canal Turn first time round: the second time round he went right through a hole which he had created in the first lap! It was Out And About who looked like he would finish the race victorious but at the Canal Turn second time round French Lawyer took the lead, then Out And About fell just four fences from the end, and in doing so interfered with Carrickbeg’s run. This was probably the making of Ayala – Carrickbeg took the final fence almost a length ahead of Ayala but weakened at the last, leaving Ayala to overtake and win by three quarters of a length.
The 1963 National was Ayala’s only big race win – he broke a bone in his foot in his next race and never won again. He entered the 1964 National but was seven pounds raised and fell at 33-1. The following year he fell at the first fence – the only one out of forty-seven runners.