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'He was a horrible ride on park courses but incredible round Aintree'

Katarino and Sam Waley-Cohen power away from the last to land the Fox Hunters' for the second consecutive year
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Katarino, 2005 Foxhunters'

He'd always been a fragile horse and had been retired and been eventing before we brought him back. He'd unseated Mick Fitzgerald in the Grand National two years earlier and I went there thinking if Mick Fitz couldn't get him round what chance did I have? Afterwards, of course, I was wondering why they hadn't they put a proper jockey on him in the first place! He was only 16 hands and those fences look very big on a horse of his size, but he bounded round – one of those days when you're just sitting on a horse that really loves it.

Katarino, 2006 Foxhunters'

The following year wasn't just about winning back-to-back runnings of the race; we'd also given a perpetual trophy in memory of my brother Thomas [who died of cancer in 2004 at the age of 19] and it was the first year it had been presented. Katarino was home-trained and had been a part of our lives for ever, so the whole day was very emotional.

Liberthine, 2006 Topham

The day after the Foxhunters' I completed an amazing double on this wonderful mare, who had given me my first taste of the big time by landing the Mildmay of Flete the year before. The irony was that because I hadn’t had enough wins I couldn't ride in the National, so we ran her in the Topham and winning was the perfect riposte. I rode her in the big one the following year and we finished fifth.

Oscar Time, Grand National

An absolute hero who gave me three great rides in the National – runner-up in 2011, fourth in 2013 and completing in 2015 – and won the Becher in 2014 as a 13-year-old. He was a horrible ride on park courses and in point-to-points because he'd stopped respecting the fences, but he was incredible round Aintree – he seemed to grow about a foot when he stepped out on the track. When he was second to Ballabriggs in the National I really thought he was going to win but then we crashed through the second last – probably the only real mistake he made round there.

Sam Waley-Cohen and his Aintree hero Oscar Time

Rajdhani Express, 2015 Topham

Another natural athlete and a great jumper. He was pure class but he went to Aintree having had no luck in running at Cheltenham that year. Once he'd warmed up over the fences he jumped his way into the race and two out I was taking a pull, which was a wonderful feeling. He absolutely destroyed his field that day.


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Katarino was home-trained and had been a part of our lives for ever, so the whole day was very emotional
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