Andrew Thornton’s Scottish Grand National success aboard Gingembre provided a real mixture of pleasure and pain for the rider.
While he was delighted to claim the glory in one of the British staying jewels, an earlier fall meant Thornton had to endure a fair bit of discomfort in victory.
He said: “I think things just fell right for us that day. I’d had a fall in an earlier novice chase and I’d cracked a rib, so one of the physios strapped me up and I was able to ride him.
“The most painful bit was actually getting on him, but once we were racing it was fine – although if you watch the replay, there are a few grimaces as we pulled up after the line!”
Trained by Lavinia Taylor, Gingembre won the Future Champions Novices’ Chase at Ayr in 2000 but endured something of a mixed build up to the Scottish National.
Second in the Hennessy in November 2000, he then failed to fire in two further outings – a factor which saw him go off a 12-1 chance with Take Control a strong 4-1 favourite for the Martin Pipe team.
However, it was Gingembre who was the class act on the day, going on to win by five lengths before being handed a Hennessy win the following season due to the disqualification of Be My Royal.
Thornton said: “He jumped really well that day at Ayr and stayed on well to beat Ad Hoc, who went on to win the Whitbread the following week.
“Gingembre was just a high-class horse. He was placed in a Charlie Hall and was second in two Hennessys, although he technically won one of those.
“He was a really good stayer and Lavinia had quite a few of them too. She was a very good trainer.”
The Scottish and Welsh Nationals are the little brothers to the main event at Aintree in April, but Thornton is fully appreciative of their individual values.
Although Thornton never joined the chosen few to have won the Liverpool spectacular, he believes the Scottish National has plenty of cache in its own right, with Aintree heroes Red Rum, Little Polveir and Earth Summit on the roll of honour.
He added: “The Scottish National is a race you want to win. It’s got such a great following, the people really get behind it and there’s been plenty of good winners – Red Rum went on to win it in 1974 after winning at Aintree.
“I started with Arthur Stephenson and I remember Chris Grant winning the race for him on Killone Abbey (in 1991) – it’s just one of those races that sticks in your mind.
“Obviously we all want to win the National at Aintree and there’s not many that do that, but the Scottish National is a great race to have on the CV.”