Galashiels jockey Ryan Mania is looking to emulate his success in last year’s Grand National when saddling up Mr Moonshine in Saturday’s main event at Aintree.
In doing so, Mania has the chance to become the first jockey since Brian Fletcher aboard Red Rum in 1973 and 1974 to win the race back-to-back.
The local lad has had, by his own account, a remarkable 12 months since winning the National at his first attempt, a high that was surpassed in September when his partner Edwina gave birth to their first child, Rowan Timothy.
“The past year or so has just been incredible,” he said.
“From being 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.”
Mania has maintained his excellent form in the saddle and, as stable jockey to Sue and Harvey Smith, is happy to be part of the same team that famously won last year’s Aintree marathon with 66-1 shot Auroras Encore.
Described by Mania as “a bit more sensitive” than last year’s winner, Mr Moonshine is no outsider in his books.
“He’s got a great chance,” he added.
“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.”
Mr Moonshine, who was pulled up in last year’s National, showed again in the Becher Chase over the National fences earlier this season that the big obstacles do not faze him.