On April 6th 2013, race horse trainer Sue Smith, became only the third female in history to train the winner of the Grand National when 66-1 outsider Auroras Encore claimed the Aintree spectacular, with National debut jockey Ryan Mania on board.
A spectacular achievement considering that up until a week before the race Auroras Encore hadn’t even made the cut due to the handicap system implemented for the Grand National.
Sue Smith began her racing career as a hobby over twenty-five years ago training a few horses, including her father’s. Born on a farm in Sussex, Sue became an international showjumper and ladies champion as well as riding horses at Epsom for her father.
She married Harvey Smith more than twenty years ago and moved with him to Craiglands Farm where she trained her first winner, African Safari, in 1990 when he won a three-runner chase at Ascot.
Smith still trains at Craiglands Farm near Bingley Moor, in West Yorkshire where the property consists of 150 acres and facilities for 55 horses.
Prior to the Grand National win, Smith also had a number of other notable winners including Kildimo, The Last Fling, Royal Emperor, Artic Jack, Mr McGoldrick and Ardent Scout.
Smith On her 2013 Grand National Win with Auroras Encore “This is the best moment of my career and let’s hope there’s more to come.”
Following the epic win at Aintree, Smith said “It’s unbelievable, he gave him such a good ride.
“I knew the ground was right for him and hoped everything else was. He stayed down the middle and had a bit of luck in running. He didn’t have a lot of weight and that helped, too.
“He’s such a grand little horse, you can ride him anyway you like.
“All the horses have come back in one piece. Everyone has worked hard to get it as a safe course and that has proved it today.
“This race will go on forever, look at the public- it goes out worldwide and you can’t beat it.”
In 2014 Smith entered Mr Moonshine who finished 15th and Vintage Star who pulled up at fence 26. She had no runners in 2015, 2016 or 2017 but was back again in 2018 with I Just Know and Delusionsofgrandeur. I Just Know led the field until falling at Bechers Brook, after Delusionofgrandeur pulled up at fence 17.
Hopes were high for 2019 when Sue Smith saddled up Vintage Clouds. However, he fell at the first fence and went on to the Scottish National where he finished in 6th place.
But while all the focus is often on the Grand National, Sue Smith has had other notable wins. In the last five years, she has sent out over 160 winners and has won the North Yorkshire Grand National, at Catterick Racecourse four years in a row and aiming for her fifth in 2020.
Will she have a runner in the 2020 Grand National, we will just have to wait and see.
Picture by: Anna Gowthorpe/PA Archive/Press Association Images