Grand National Horse Race
Derek Fox pours water over Corach Rambler after winning the Grand National horse race at Aintree Racecourse Liverpool, England, Saturday, April 15, 2023. Image Credit: AP

LIVERPOOL - Favourite Corach Rambler, ridden by Derek Fox, stormed to victory in a Grand National briefly delayed by animal rights protesters at Aintree on Saturday.

The 8-1 shot, owned by a seven-member syndicate who bought him for 17,000 pounds ($21,102) in 2020, soared over the last of the 30 jumps and bounded clear to victory down the home straight.

Vanillier (20-1) closed slightly before finishing second with Gaillard Du Mesnil (10-1) in third place and last year's winner Noble Yeats coming in fourth.

For winning jockey Fox it was his second victory in the iconic steeplechase and the second on a horse trained by Scotland's Lucinda Russell after winning six years ago on One For Arthur.

It came after he needed a late fitness test to even be declared fit enough to ride in the 175th staging of the world's most famous steeplechase with a winning pot of 500,000 pounds ($620,650).

"He is just a phenomenal horse. I can't believe it. He normally gets his head up a wee bit but today he travelled everywhere," Fox told ITV.

"He is the cleverest horse. He is so intelligent." Russell said her second National win as a trainer was "a bit different" and she had been in tears for most of the race.

"I was in tears as the tapes went up, I cried for most of the race and then as he started (to get into it) I realised he loved it," she said.

"He just loved the fences, he just loved everything about it. It's very personal this one... I'll always remember One for Arthur, he was a brilliant horse, but this is just very special." Rachael Blackmore, who two years ago became the first female jockey to win the race, finished 17th on Aint That A Shame.

The start of the race, one of the highest-profile events in Britain's sporting calendar, was delayed for around 15 minutes after the protesters made their way on to the course. Some tried to attach themselves to fences before they were dragged away by police who made nine arrests.

"Those guys that went out to protest on the course, they think it's about horse welfare but that horse loves the sport," Fox said of Corach Rambler. "He loves everything that he does. It is so important they understand how we care for them every inch of the way." Protesters say the race is cruel to horses, with many having died over the daunting fences down the years.

On Saturday, one horse, Hill Sixteen, was put down after a heavy fall at the first fence with screens being erected and the field waved around on the second circuit.

A Jockey Club spokesperson offered condolences to connections after confirming Hill Sixteen had sustained "an unrecoverable injury".

Two other horses -- Recite A Prayer and Cape Gentleman -- were being assessed by veterinary staff.

Hill Sixteen was the third horse to die at this year's three-day festival, after four in 2022.

Dark Raven fell in the Mersey Novices' Hurdle on Saturday and Envoye Special was put down after the Foxhunters' Chase on Thursday.