Racing: Mother conquers Aintree - 10 weeks after giving birth

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The Independent Online

Becher's Brook and the rest of Aintree's massive fences proved no obstacle to Carrie Ford yesterday when she won the "amateurs' Grand National" - just 10 and a half weeks after giving birth to a baby girl.

Ford, who had 5lb 10oz Hannah on 18 January, made virtually all the running on Forest Gunner, trained by her husband, Richard, to take the Fox Hunters' Chase.

Only the third woman rider to win the race, Ford nearly fell when her mount blundered badly at the second fence, but eventually scored by eight lengths at odds of 13-2.

She came out of retirement to ride yesterday's winner, but the 32-year-old said later that she might be tempted to ride Forest Gunner in next year's Grand National proper. "We only started to discuss this a couple of weeks ago," Ford said after the race. "I was running and swimming and feeling fine.

"It nearly went very pear-shaped at the second when he made a bad mistake, but that made him think a bit about it, and he was brilliant from then on. It was easier than childbirth!

"Richard had had this race planned for a long time and I was buggered if I was going to fall off at the second, anyway."

Her husband said: "I can't really be too uncomfortable about it because I like riding motorbikes around the Isle Of Man at 160mph. But I hope she retires now."

Hannah, the couple's first child, was being cared for at home - Folly Farm, near Tarporley in Cheshire. "I gave her a kiss for luck before I left this morning," Carrie said.

There was a sting in the tail for Ford and the other riders as, in an unusual twist, all 25 jockeys were fined £100 for failing to obey the starter, Peter Haynes.

The Aintree stewards ruled that the riders had approached the starting tape before Haynes had climbed on to his rostrum.