Steve Pateman described Black And Bent’s second win in the Grand National Hurdle yesterday at Sandown Park as a career highlight.
An emotional Pateman said Black And Bent produced all his champion qualities as he overcame un-characteristic poor jumping to add this year’s triumph to his 2011 victory.
And, Black And Bent became the first horse to lump 72 kg to victory since Cheery Jack shouldered 73 kg in the 1940 renewal of the jumps feature.
“He’s just an awesome horse,” marvelled Pateman.
“It’s the most special win of my career. I just loved it how going into the race he was the underdog.
“But champions are always champions.”
Pateman admitted he had his concerns as the seven-year-old “wasn’t really going”, but in the end “he was too tough”.
“I was always struggling to keep him in contact, but these days he wants to stay. Jumping the second last I thought he was going to get there, he kept grinding away,” he said.
Black And Bent appeared little hope when he was a conspicuous last at 1200 metres and not jumping well.
The Grand National changed complexion dramatically when odds-on favourite Wells fell at the second last jump.
While former Sydney Cup winner Stand To Gain seemed to be holding Brungle Cry, Black And Bent began to grind away and reel in ground off the other two.
Black And Bent, $3.50, scored by one and three-quarter lengths from Stand To Gain, $7, with four and a quarter lengths to Brungle Cry, $9, third
For trainer Robert Smerdon it was his sixth Grand National and his most satisfying.
Smerdon described the performance by Black And Bent as “extremely tough” and paid tribute to the horse’s constitution and will to win.
He said Black And Bent had overcome many issues, including a tendon injury which shut down his career for 11 months.
“It was a great effort by the horse,” Smerdon said.
“It’s a testament to the horse’s determination. He’s a never say die attitude. I thought his last tendon injury was the last of him.
“He has come back and proved us all wrong.”