Leighton Aspell: a look at his three greatest rides and key statistics
Leighton Aspell will be remembered by fans and his weighing room colleagues alike as a sympathetic horseman who really thrived on staying chasers.
As he calls time on his career for the second time, the 43-year-old retires without a winner at the Cheltenham Festival but with a treasure trove of victories on some of racing's marquee occasions, including two on the biggest day of all at Aintree.
Three of the best
Supreme Glory, 2001 Welsh Grand National
Supreme Glory was something of a slow burner for trainer Pat Murphy and never ran over hurdles. However, Murphy always had an eye on the Welsh National and the plan came to fruition under an attacking ride from Aspell, who rarely gave a moment of peace to the front-running Edmond and Seamus Durack.
Aspell grabbed the rail halfway down the long Chepstow straight and drove the eight-year-old out to deny Jock’s Cross by two lengths despite racing from 3lb out of the handicap.
The following season, Supreme Glory and Aspell came from a long way back to finish second to Monty’s Pass in the Grand National at Aintree.
Pineau De Re, 2014 Grand National
Pineau De Re is almost certainly the smallest horse to win the Grand National in recent years, and on a couple of occasions during the 2014 contest it took considerable horsemanship from Aspell to retain the partnership.
But more than his sheer ability to sit tight, it was Aspell's patience that allowed Pineau De Re to work his way slowly into the race, having taken plenty of guidance from trainer Richard Newland not to rush the horse on what was their first racecourse outing together, that enabled them to win the coveted prize.
"From the Canal Turn and that line of four fences I was very conscious I had a very serious chance in the Grand National," says Aspell, recalling his win on Pineau De Re in a Racing Post feature from 2018.
"It was just a case of get over those four and conserving energy. I'd never been in that situation in the National before so I was very aware not to kick for home."
Many Clouds, 2015 Grand National, Aintree
If Pineau De Re was something of an unknown quantity to Aspell then Many Clouds was a horse he knew almost better than any other, having ridden him in every one of his 19 starts before the 2015 National.
The most recent of those had been a sixth-placed finish in an attritional Gold Cup behind Coneygree, but a combination of class and his natural enthusiasm took Many Clouds and Aspell onto the heels of the leaders running down to Becher’s Brook on the first circuit.
Aspell said he concentrated "twice as hard" that year on the run back from the Canal Turn for the second time, given the horse's long season and the unknown of how he would stay the last mile at Aintree, while the fall of The Druids Nephew four out meant the pair were left in front sooner than ideal.
But under a stopping weight of 11st 9lb, Aspell had rationed the effort of his willing partner perfectly.
Aspell in numbers
922 wins in Britain and Ireland
123 winners at Fontwell
1 Comeback (Aspell took out a licence again in 2009 having retired in 2007)
2 Grand National wins (Pineau De Re and Many Clouds)
12 wins aboard Many Clouds
Get free tipping content with The Punt from 7.30am daily on the Racing Post mobile app and 8.30am on the website