Seismic shocks in racing do not come much bigger than 100-1 winners of the Grand National – and 10 years ago Liam Treadwell helped send tremors through the sport when triumphing aboard Mon Mome at those very odds.
With millions around the world tuned in, and thousands gathered at Aintree, Treadwell, aged just 23 and on his first ride in the race, steered his supposed no-hoper to a victory that a decade on he remembers fondly for the reaction that was to follow.
Treadwell said: “It is still very clear in my head. I remember going over the line standing up in my irons and celebrating.
“It was my first ride in the race and I was delighted to have a ride regardless. It wouldn’t have mattered what chance he had. I can still picture all those faces and the shock. It was a surreal silence from the crowds’ point of view, but I was in dreamland.
“I remember Venetia (Williams, trainer) coming over and there I was trying to give her a debrief of the race and she said, ‘Liam, just enjoy it’.”
But it might have been a different story, as just moments after the tapes had been raised and the runners were sent hurtling on their way to the first fence, a combination of nerves and a rush of blood to the head almost got the better of Treadwell.
He recalled: “When it came down to the actual I race I just wanted to get over the first. If I tipped up at the first, I thought I’d almost let the family and what have you down.
“As we were going to the first fence I was in a nice position, I saw a stride and Mon Mome put down. I shook my head and said, ‘sit still and leave it to him’.
“From there on there was certainly fortune on my side, as I went up the inside. A couple of horses around me fell early on, so for the majority of the race I was in my own bubble and the horse got into a lovely rhythm.”
Treadwell also remembered the exact moment he believes helped enhance his own chances – but leave the dreams of a weighing-room colleague in tatters.
He said: “Second time round at Becher’s there was a bit of a pile up and Black Apalachi tipped up and got rid of Denis O’Regan and the pace seemed to slacken up.
“I was in the middle to the back of the field and it just meant I could creep closer without having to ask Mon Mome any questions.
“Jumping four out was the first time I thought, ‘I’m in a horse race now’. I got caught in a pocket, so I couldn’t go anywhere, which was in my favour and Mon Mome was just filling up, so when the gaps did open jumping the second-last he came alive underneath me.
“He jumped the last and spread his wings and came home like a fresh horse.”
After the back-slapping from his colleagues on track died down, Treadwell ensured he savoured the moment alone before getting to witness first hand just how the race affects so many.
He said: “I remember wearing the colours home in the car and we just went to a local pub near Venetia’s with all the staff. I was still suffering from the ride earlier where I had to do 10st so I had plenty of water before indulging in other fluids!
“Sam Thomas was the first person I spoke to the next morning and I woke up feeling groggy. I was having a cup of tea and he said, ‘what are you drinking that for, you’ve just won the greatest race in the world, so get yourself a glass of champagne!’.
“The following weeks the amount of cards I got through the post from parents who backed the horse as it was called Mon Mome, which translates to ‘my kid’, was amazing.
“They came from all over the world, from the Czech Republic to Australia, thanking me for helping to pay for things like wedding dresses and holidays.
“I’ve still got the scrap books at home and every now and then I look at them. They call it the people’s race and I got to know that first hand.”
Having announced his retirement in February last year, the avid Arsenal fan made a low-key return to the saddle at Taunton earlier this month and although a ride in the National may not be on the horizon this season, he is just pleased to be back doing the job he loves most.
He said: “It was the back-end of last summer that Ed de Giles asked if I’d school a few horses for him, so I thought I would give it a go. After jumping a few logs and tires that fired me up.
“I finished there just after Christmas and Aidan Coleman rang me, he said Olly Murphy was only 25 minutes from me and suggested I get sorted out there. It was the second or third morning I was there, they asked if I’d school a few and I absolutely loved it.
“I’m delighted to be back and I just want to get my head down and crack on, as I’m 100 per cent committed to putting myself about and riding out for people. It is almost feels like the old Liam Treadwell, 7lb claimer starting again.”