Carl Llewellyn is the proud rider of two Grand National winners – Party Politics in 1992 and Earth Summit in 1998. Modest Llewellyn stresses that his National wins have both been all about luck, and to an extent he may be right.
But it’s far from just luck that has made Llewellyn the jockey he is today – he possesses the determination that is essential in any jockey that is going to ‘make it’. He was once told that he would never ride again following a severely smashed ankle, and on his second return race he broke and dislocated his elbow.
Born in Pembrokeshire, Wales, Llewellyn spent most of his youth riding his pony before participating in point-to-points and working for trainer Jim Old and then Captain Tim Forster. He rode his first National Hunt winner in 1986 and by the 1987-88 season, with 41 wins under his belt he had taken the conditional jockeys title.
In 1988 he won his first Cheltenham Festival race as well as making his debut in the Grand National on Ginger McCain-trained Kumbi, a bit-of-a-disaster of a horse, who had fallen three times at Aintree, twice which had been in the National. Even though Llewellyn’s ride was ended by a somersaulting fall, he remained enthusiastic and unphased, reporting it as having been ‘a brilliant first ride’.
His second entry to the National, on Smart Tar resulted in another fall and it was another three years before Llewellyn rode in the National again. This time however it was ‘third time lucky’, even though Llewellyn stated afterwards that he had felt very unhappy at the beginning of the race due to Party Politics breathing problems.
At this stage Llewellyn was riding regularly for Nigel Twiston-Davies, who he went on to work with for 19 years. Following many big-race wins and showing further prowess at Aintree, with a third on 100-1 outsider Camelot Knight in 1996, 1998 was Llewellyn’s next big year when he won the National on Earth Summit, by 11 lengths. Earth Summit became the first horse to win at Aintree as well as the Scottish and Welsh Grand Nationals.
Llewellyn’s best ever season as a jockey was during the 1997/98 season when he rode 82 winners, but following the 2006 Grand National, Llewellyn took over as trainer from Mark Pitman at Weathercock House in Lambourn, having carried out the roles of assistant trainer to Pitman and jockey since August 2005. However, he is now back in partnership with Nigel Twiston-Davies and could be a contender to train the 2010 Grand National winner.