On the steeplechase course, William Meister frequently competes with a catch-me-if-you-can style and Saturday at the 110th Grand National in Glyndon, nobody could.
Not even defending champion Private Attack, who went on to win the 2011 Maryland Hunt Cup by 60 lengths and was making his first sanctioned start of this season in preparation for this weekend's Hunt Cup.
The only other time Private Attack had the lead was very early in the 3 1/4 -mile test when Meister made some adjustments.
"The horse jumped great," said Meister, also the trainer of the winner. "He turned his head the first three fences and I had to let him go (to the lead) by Private Attack. After that, he jumped like a stag. I didn't really want to be on the lead, but the horse relaxed after he got there. At the end, he had a ton of kick left."
Fourth in the Benjamin Murray Memorial at this meet last spring, And The Eagle Flys finished second in the Hunt Cup the following week, but he wasn't within sight of victorious Private Attack.
Owned by Mrs. William D. Glass, Jr. And The Eagle Flys is one of a number of horses she has had in Meister's charge.
"I've been with him for years," she said of the veteran Meister. "He's a sweetheart and like a son to me. As far as I'm concerned, he's the best.''
Worrell did not believe Private Attack simply came up a tad short in his first serious encounter this spring.
"He had the distance and jumped fantastically," Worrell said. "But coming up the hill (over the final fence) it became a footrace and he just didn't have quite enough."
The co-featured Benjamin H. Murray Memorial was a topsy-turvy affair with four of the five contenders taking command at one point. In the end, Mecklenburg, with Mark Beecher aboard, held off Guts For Garters by about a half-length to win in 6:07 1/5 , nearly two seconds faster than the feature.
It was only the second victory in 20 lifetime outings for Mecklenburg, who is trained by Tara Elmore.
And The Eagle Flys captures Grand National title