DORSET’S Eldorado Allen rode a game Grand National, leading late on, before succumbing as I Am Maximus claimed victory for trainer Willie Mullins.

Joe Tizzard’s mount was a 100/1 chance but travelled well throughout at the front and even led the field over the 23rd and 24th obstacles of 30, raising hope of a famous win.

However, as the pace lifted, Eldorado Allen steadily sank backwards and would eventually end up 20th of the 21 finishers.

But, I Am Maximus was the emphatic winning favourite, giving Mullins a second victory in the Aintree showpiece.

READ MORE: Eldorado Allen takes fourth in 2022 King George VI 

Successful with Hedgehunter 19 years ago, Mullins was responsible for eight of the 32 who headed to post in Liverpool, but I Am Maximus was well-touted to follow up last year’s success in the Irish Grand National.

An impressive tune-up in the Bobbyjo Chase saw punters latch onto the Grade One-winning eight-year-old and Paul Townend rode the 7-1 market leader with supreme confidence down the inner as I Am Maximus showed no sign of previous jumping frailties.

In a race with early drama when defending champion Corach Rambler unshipped Derek Fox at the very first fence, there were a plethora still in contention heading down to two out, where I Am Maximus was inching into contention.

However, the complexion of the race would change at the elbow where I Am Maximus scooted clear of the Rachael Blackmore-ridden Minella Indo and the staying-on Delta Work, who picked up second place in his third attempt at the famous race.

It was a first Grand National triumph for Townend, while owner JP McManus was striking at Aintree for the third time after Don’t Push It (2010) and Minella Times (2021).

Mullins said: “It was an excellent ride. I had said before the race that we didn’t know how good this horse was, he showed that he’s better than he had been. I thought he still had a little bit from the handicapper after the Bobbyjo and he’s proved it.

“Paul was excellent, he kidded him round the inside, he got chopped up a couple of times and probably didn’t jump as clean as he could, but he was looking for the gaps and when he eventually got it he was all right.

“I could see Paul’s body language and he was happy, so I was happy then. I don’t think I said anything until he got over the last and then I let go (and gave him a cheer).

“He’s a tremendous horse. He has his own way of doing things, he’s quirky and immature but he’s learning all the time.

“It’s extraordinary how we came to have him. Nicky Henderson had him before me, Michael Grech moved his horses to Ireland and Nicky said to me ‘make sure you get him’ and it was fine advice.

“Nicky could see the talent that he had and we just had to nurture it, so thanks to Nicky and also Henrietta Knight who organised all that.

“To win an Irish National and an English National is impressive.

“I think he could be a Gold Cup horse, but we don’t know how good he could be because he doesn’t do it at home. He’s quirky, but he has huge ability and until others get the better of him, we won’t know how good he is.”

First prize in the National is £500,000 – a sum which firmly puts Mullins in the driving seat for the British trainers’ title, with both Ladbrokes and Betfair making the Closutton handler an odds-on shot against Dan Skelton and Paul Nicholls.

National glory for Townend comes after a Cheltenham Festival that included the Gold Cup with Galopin Des Champs, and he added: “I have to pinch myself all the time to be honest. It’s fairytale stuff.”