The amateur jockey who helped rekindle Prince William and Kate Middleton’s romance today won the Grand National in his final race before retirement in front of a 70,000-strong crowd.
Sam Waley-Cohen, 39, rode horse Noble Yeates (50-1), owned by his father Robert, to victory at Aintree. Mr Waley-Cohen had announced his intention to retire as a jockey earlier this week.
The horse beat favourite Any Second Now (15-2) in the race and Delta Work (10-1), Santini (33-1) and Fiddlerontheroof (12-1) came in third, fourth and fifth.
The Duchess of Cornwall presented the Randox Grand National trophy to owner Robert Waley-Cohen and congratulated his son.
Sam Waley-Cohen, 39, (pictured) rode horse Noble Yeates (50-1), owned by his father Robert, to victory at Aintree. Mr Waley-Cohen had announced his intention to retire as a jockey earlier this week
Mr Waley-Cohen is a friend of Prince William and Kate. He has known William since prep school and was a guest at their 2011 wedding
Speaking after his win, Mr Waley-Cohen said: ‘It’s a dream. I couldn’t believe it. I’ve got to say thank you, as it’s my last ever ride, to my dad (Robert Waley-Cohen, owner), for unwavering belief and love.
‘Over 23 years and never a cross word, never been anything but a dream. It’s been a love affair. To my wife, long-suffering, they aren’t all good days, there are bad days in this sport.’
His emotional father added in an interview with ITV: ‘I’m really emotional. I’m lost for words, unbelieveable. Fabulous. It’s a team and thank God it has really worked. He has so much dedication and puts in so much hard work.
‘It’s a dream come true. I can’t speak, I shouted too much! You can’t go round without the horse but the horse can’t get round without the jockey.
‘Sam used to ride the National on his rocking horse, that’s how far back it goes!’
Speaking after his win, Mr Waley-Cohen (pictured) said: ‘It’s a dream. I couldn’t believe it. I’ve got to say thank you, as it’s my last ever ride, to my dad (Robert Waley-Cohen, owner), for unwavering belief and love’
The Duchess of Cornwall presented the Randox Grand National trophy to owner Robert Waley-Cohen and congratulated his son (pictured)
As Mr Waley-Cohen has amateur status, he will not receive any prize money and has a day job running a multi-million pound dentistry business.
Mr Waley-Cohen is a friend of Prince William and Kate. He has known William since prep school and was a guest at their 2011 wedding.
He is famed for bringing the couple back together after their March 2007 split. Kate and William were seen at a party thrown by Sam at his family’s 17th Century mansion in Oxfordshire in June 2007 deep in conversation.
A few weeks after the party, they were seen on holiday together in the Seychelles. But Mr Waley-Cohen downplayed his match-making when he was interviewed by the Mail.
Pictured: Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, visits Aintree Racecourse for the Grand National Festival today
Winning jockey Sam Waley-Cohen celebrates with the Grand National Trophy after riding Noble Yeats to victory in the Grand National Steeple Chase at Aintree Racecourse today (pictured)
Duchess of Cornwall, and Aintree Racecourse Chairman Nicholas Wrigley applaud the winner of the Grand National 2022 at Aintree Racecourse today (pictured)
In 2011 he said: ‘There’s an idea that I was like Cupid with a bow and arrow. People love the idea that somebody put them back together but they put themselves together far more,’ he said.
He said of being a guest at their wedding ‘It was absolutely fantastic.
‘It was great to see two people who are so in love. I think everyone could see that, whether they know them or not.’
Racegoers included Zara Tindall, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace and former Liverpool FC manager Sir Kenny Dalglish.
Pictured: Mr Waley-Cohen (R) and his wife Annabel Ballin arrive to attend the Royal Wedding of Prince William to Kate Middleton at Westminster Abbey in London on April 29, 2011
He said of being a guest at their wedding ‘It was absolutely fantastic. ‘It was great to see two people who are so in love. I think everyone could see that, whether they know them or not.’ Pictured: Mr Waley-Cohen with Kate in 2008 at Cheltenham Horse Racing Festival
Racegoers included Zara Tindall, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace and former Liverpool FC manager Sir Kenny Dalglish
Ben Wallace, the Secretary of State for Defence of the United Kingdom, reacts during Grand National Day at the Randox Grand National Festival at Aintree, today (pictured)
Coronation Street star Antony Cotton said: ‘It’s always lovely to be here and I’m thrilled to be back, especially given the last two years that everybody has had. It’s just nice to be out of the house.’
Hollyoaks actress Jorgie Porter, at the races with fiance Ollie Piotrowski, said: ‘You can feel the buzz here today that everybody is excited that we’re all out in this situation
‘It’s a huge thing, but I think particularly this year, because we’ve missed it so much.’
Football pundit Chris Kamara said: ‘It’s unbelievable. I know that’s my catchphrase but I have never been to the National before, so thanks to Betway, who invited me, I’ve ticked it off the bucket list, so it’s great.’
Winning jockey Sam Waley-Cohen (right centre) and owner Robert Waley-Cohen (2nd left centre) celebrate alongside friends and family with the Grand National Trophy after Noble Yeats wins the Grand National Steeple Chase at Aintree Racecourse today (pictured)
Mr Waley-Cohen had got into horseracing in 2004 after his brother Thomas tragically passed away aged 20 from the rare bone cancer Ewing’s Sarcoma.
He used horse-racing to help him through his grief, unexpectedly winning at the Cheltenham Festival in 2005, riding his father’s horse Libertine.
And in 2011 he also won the Cheltenham Gold Cup on another of his father’s horses, Long Run.
The 39-year-old has always rode as an amateur jockey and never considered turning professional as he raced out of love for the sport.
He added in 2011: ‘But although I’m an amateur, I can’t be amateurish. I want to win. It is dangerous and difficult. If you’re going to take on the best professionals, you have to be in a position to do justice to yourself and the people who have backed you.’
Sam Waley-Cohen who rode Noble Yeats to win the Grand National horse race hugs the winners trophy at Aintree today (pictured)
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