Sue Smith became only the third female in history to train the winner of the John Smith’s Grand National as 66-1 outsider Auroras Encore claimed the Aintree spectacular.
Beaten just a head in the Scottish National at Ayr a year ago, the 11-year-old had been well beaten in recent starts but came to challenge for the lead jumping the final fence.
While the complexion of the National has changed so many times on the long run-in in the past, the result was scarcely in doubt on this occasion as Auroras Encore galloped all the way to the line under Ryan Mania to score by nine lengths.
Cappa Bleu finished strongly to grab the runner-up spot, with Teaforthree and Oscar Time third and fourth respectively.
Scottish-born rider Mania said: ``There's no words to describe it, I got a dream ride all the way - I couldn't believe my luck.
“I couldn’t fault the old horse. He was second in the Scottish National last year and I thought I should stay loyal to him and thank God I did.
“I never really had an anxious moment, he made a couple of mistakes, that’s all.”
Bingley-based Smith said: “It’s unbelievable, he gave him such a good ride.
“I knew the ground was right for him and hoped everything else was. He stayed down the middle and had a bit of luck in running. He didn’t have a lot of weight and that helped, too.
“He’s such a grand little horse, you can ride him anyway you like.
“I just feel sorry for the previous owners, who were wonderful and sold him because of ill health.”
Smith’s husband, former world famous showjumper Harvey Smith, said: “It’s superb, absolutely spot-on.
“All the horses have come back in one piece. Everyone has worked hard to get it as a safe course and that has proved it today.
“This race will go on forever, look at the public- it goes out worldwide and you can’t beat it.
“This is the best (moment of my career) and let’s hope there’s more to come.”
Jenny Pitman became the first lady to train a Grand National winner when Corbiere won the race in 1983, and she went on to saddle a second winner with Royal Athlete in 1995.
Venetia Williams struck gold with 100-1 shot Mon Mome in 2009.
Since his fine effort in the Scottish National, Auroras Encore had made seven racecourse appearances, failing to complete on three occasions and finishing well out of the frame on the other four starts.
However, clearly lit up by the giant fences, the veteran enjoyed a dream run under a light weight and finished off strongly to give Mania an incredible success on his first ever ride in the race.
Cappa Bleu, fourth in the race 12 months ago, put in another fantastic performance to fill the runner-up spot.
Teaforthree led at the final fence but was unable to keep with the winner and faded into a gallant third.
The 12-year-old Oscar Time was second in 2011 and a fine fourth this time around.
Mania added: ``I knew he was capable, even though he hadn't been running well. This is always his time of year, but you couldn't be confident.
“Two years ago I gave up for six months because the rides had dried up, but Sue and Harvey took me in.
“I realise this will change my life, but I can’t go too mad tonight because I am at Hexham tomorrow.”
The heavily supported 11-2 favourite was the Ted Walsh-trained Seabass, third 12 months ago and once again partnered by the trainer's daughter, Katie.
He travelled well for a long way, but could not pick up once straightened for home and eventually completed the course in 13th position.
Walsh senior, who saddled Papillon to win the National in 2000, had a second major challenger in the shape of Colbert Station, but he parted company with Tony McCoy at The Chair (15th fence).
Ruby Walsh, Ted’s son and Katie’s brother, rode another leading contender in the shape of the Willie Mullins-trained On His Own, but he was already retreating when coming down jumping Valentine’s for the second time (25th fence).
Seventeen of the 40 starters completed the course, with all horses and riders reported to have come back safely.
Cappa Bleu's trainer Evan Williams, who has also seen State Of Play go so close in the race, said:
``I'm getting closer and if I had to finish second to anybody then to finish second to Sue and Harvey - they are legends in my eyes and I couldn't think of anyone better to finish second to.
“I think it’s good for the north they’ve won.
“I’ll get there one day. I can’t say how much it means to people like us to compete in this race.
“Second, third and fourth, they matter. To see everyone come back safe and sound and happy, that’s what matters.
“We haven’t won, but great people have won. Sue and Harvey Smith are great people for National Hunt racing and great people for the north of England.
“The race went well except that we finished second. I’ll do all in my power to get there, but we will enjoy the race.
“Of course winning is what we are here for, but I am happy. I can’t knock the horse or the jockey – we’ve finished second.
“Fantastic for Becky (Rebecca Curtis) to finish third (with Teaforthree). She’s had a fantastic season and has really upped the ante as far as Wales is concerned. I’m very proud to be part of it.
“Hopefully we’ll be back next for another crack. Winning the Grand National is my ambition.”
Rebecca Curtis has vowed to bring Teaforthree back next year.
“He stayed all the way to the line and just got pipped for second. Nick (Scholfield) said he went on to try to win the race,” said the Welsh trainer.
“He’s run a blinder and I’m really pleased with him.
“He’ll come back here next year, all being well, and go for the Welsh National again first probably.
“Third in the Grand National at my first attempt is not bad and we’ll try again.”
Robert Waley-Cohen, owner of the Martin Lynch-trained Oscar Time, who was ridden by his son Sam Waley-Cohen, said: ``That was an incredible thrill.
“The horse ran brilliantly and Sam was fantastic.
“He’s now run in two Nationals and has been second and fourth. He obviously goes really well here.
“To run like that after a slightly interrupted preparation reflects greatly on Martin Lynch.
“I couldn’t be more proud of the horse, it was a wonderful race to watch.”