Five years ago, Mike Tindall was called an ‘idiot’ by his then girlfriend Zara Phillips after buying a quarter share in a ‘hopeless’ horse at an auction.
The 8-year-old Bay Gelding cost Tindall £12,000, but it turned out that he was not the best of jumpers over the fences. The horse was an unpromising hope and cost the couple more than thousands of pounds.
However, now Monbeg Dude is in sight of winning the Grand National after months of training, changing Mrs Tindall’s view of the horse. Neither the Queen or the Queen Mother have owned a Grand National winner, making it a feat as of yet untouched by royals.
Speaking to the Daily Telegraph, Michael Scudamore, the horse’s trainer said: “Zara has been doing a lot of work with him and doing a really good job. We have taken Monbeg Dude to her at least four times. She has been very, very useful with the little techniques she uses to help him respect his obstacles. She has helped him to concentrate when he jumps.”
Zara is a very successful sportsperson winning a silver medal at the London 2012 Olympic Games as part of the equestrian eventing team, and was voted Sports Personality of the Year in 2006. She is very respected in the equestrianism world; gaining a reputation for getting horses to jump over many challenging equestrian fences. She is currently expecting her first child, due in January.
The prospects of Monbeg Dude racing at Aintree are still however a distance away. The Grand National was only jointly discussed by the owners after the horse was placed 4th at Cheltenham last week.
The royal family have an outstanding record when it comes to the world of horse racing, but this one race remains elusive. The Queen Mother came extremely close to winning the National in 1956 after her horse, Devon Lock, was racing to the finishing line with yards to go, it seemed she couldn’t lose. Only she did lose, after the horse belly-flopped on its stomach just yards from the finishing post! Afterwards, she simply said “oh, that’s racing”.
If the Grand National has proved anything in it’s 166 year history, it is that odds mean nothing after in 2009 Mon Mone won the race at 100/1 and this year Auroras Encore won at 66/1. This earned the horse’s owner over £500,000 in winnings.
The Grand National is attended by just under 100,000 people each year at Aintree, and is watched by more than 600 million people in 140 countries making it one of the most watched sporting events.