Encore dominates Mania thoughts
Auroras Encore had a comfortable night following an operation to repair a fracture in his leg, with his Aintree partner Ryan Mania conceding the now-retired Grand National hero has been the "only thing I've thought about".
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A shock 66-1 winner of the world's greatest steeplechase in April, Sue Smith's gelding returned from running at Doncaster last weekend with an injury that has finished his career.
He underwent an operation on Tuesday afternoon and while that was a success, Mania is hoping for more good news later in the week.
"For the past two days he has been the only thing I've thought about," said Mania, 24, who was catapulted into the limelight when steering Auroras Encore to a nine-length verdict over Cappa Bleu.
"I haven't been thinking 'oh no, there goes my ride in the National' - I just want him to be OK.
"He came through the operation OK and it will be good to get him home. He's going the right way, thankfully, and now all we can do is hope he keeps improving. He's a hardy old bugger, so he'll keep fighting. The next couple of days will be crucial.
"I still can't believe I won the National, every time I see it I think it's somebody else.
"Nobody can ever take it away from us. He owes nobody anything and now I just hope he gets to enjoy his retirement."
Bingley-based Smith told the Yorkshire Post: "These things happen. I just want him home to have a happy retirement.
"He won a National for us. It doesn't get bigger than that. He doesn't owe us anything. This is a racing injury and I'm afraid that it is what you have to expect from the job on occasion.
"We have to expect these things and that's all there is to it. I just want him back to his retirement."