Former champion jumps jockey Craig Durden has gained deep satisfaction from the victory of Wells in the Grand National Steeplechase at Ballarat.
Durden won two Grand National Steeplechases as a jockey and prepared Wells with wife Kathryn to win the race in 2014.
Wells missed the 2015 season following surgery for a joint infection which Durden said allowed the nine-year-old to mature and cope with the rigours of racing.
With Wells gaining his second victory, only two horses have won the Grand National in the past five years with Bashboy successful in 2012, 2013 and 2015.
Ridden by Richard Cully, Wells ($7) scored by 10 lengths from Lucky Tonight ($11) with Undergroundfighter ($151) 3-1/2 lengths away third.
“It’s better than the first one as we got him back,” Durden said.
“When you’re riding them you can get off them and go home and not worry about them and that’s why I’m so relieved the horse has come back.
“Ironically the year off might have helped him. He’s more mature and he’s coped with things much better this time around.”
The Grand National path was almost brought undone by a bout of colic as Wells prepared to head to the Crisp Steeplechase at Sandown on August 7.
Durden noticed the gelding was panting as he was about to be loaded onto the float and five minutes later was showing signs of colic.
“We put him on the walker and by the time the vet came he had walked himself out of it,” Durden said.
Cully said the tough conditions with the rain that fell during the day at Ballarat had helped Wells who proved the superior stayer.
“I was in front way too early but he jumped well down the back but he got there rounding the bend going way too good so I had to go.
“Thank God he kept going.”
Slowpoke Rodriguez (John Allen) fell at the last bringing down I’ll’ava’alf ridden by visiting Irish jockey Katie Walsh.
There were initial concerns for Slowpoke Rodriguez but after a short period he rose to feet after being winded in the fall and walked back into the mounting yard.