Whether finishing in the first four in the Grand National seven years running, without ever winning the world famous steeplechase, is an enviable, or unenviable, record is really a matter of opinion, but the jockey who did just that was Paul Moloney. Having hung up his riding boots in 2017, Moloney joined a list of exceptional jockeys, including the John Francome, Jonjo O’Neill, Peter Scudamore and, of course, Richard Johnson – although the latter is still trying, after 21 attempts, so far – never to have won the Grand National. Moloney, himself, failed to complete the course on his first four attempts in the National but, thereafter, his record was remarkable.
Moloney achieved all seven placings aboard three horses, all saddled by Vale of Glamorgan trainer Evan Williams and all carrying the familiar blue colours of William and Angela Rucker. His sequence began with State Of Play, who finished fourth behind Mon Mome in 2009, third behind Don’t Push It in 2010, and fourth, again, behind Ballabriggs in 2011. In 2012, Cappa Bleu, described by Moloney as ‘an absolute armchair ride’, picked upon the baton, finishing fourth, yet again, behind Neptune Collonges and, in 2013, finished second behind Auroras Encore. Next it was the turn of the quirky, but talented, Alvarado, who finished fourth behind both Pineau De Re in 2014 and Many Clouds in 2015.