Grand National Irish-trained winners
Silver Birch’s victory in the 2007 John Smith’s Grand National was the sixth by an Irish-trained runner in the nine renewals of the great Aintree chase between 1999 and 2007.
But, while Irish jockeys and Irish-bred horses have always enjoyed considerable success in the world’s greatest chase, there have only been 24 winners trained across the Irish Sea since the great race was first run back in 1839.
Matthew became the first Irish-trained winner of the Grand National in 1847 when he saw off 26 rivals. Returned at odds of 10/1, he was the subject of a minor gamble after a woman in a mesmeric state had foreseen his victory.
Abd-El-Kader landed successive gambles for his owner/trainer Joseph Osborne when the bay gelding became the first dual winner of the Grand National in 1850 and 1851. A regular contributor to racing newspaper Bell’s Life, Co Meath-based Osborne reportedly won £10,000 from a bet of £150 when the rank outsider triumphed for the first time, and the small bay gelding returned 12 months later and obliged at much shorter odds of 7/1, netting his owner a further £10,000 in successful ante-post bets.
In 1855, Wanderer scored in heavy ground but the Irish then had to wait 24 years for another Grand National triumph. The Liberator won in 1879, having finished third behind Austerlitz two years earlier. The Garrett Moore-trained horse returned the following season to be runner-up to another Irish-trained victor, Empress, whose amateur jockey Tommy Beasley and trainer Henry Linde returned to Aintree in 1881, sending out Woodbrook to win in the snow.
Beasley gained his hat-trick in 1889 aboard the tough 11-year-old mare Frigate. His brother Harry triumphed in 1891, training and riding Come Away to a popular victory, despite squeezing Cloister for room in the closing stages. Captain Roddy Owen, who partnered the runner-up, threatened to punish Harry “in an old fashioned manner” after the race.
Algy Anthony also rode and trained a Grand National winner but in different years. He was in the saddle when Ambush II beat dual winner Manifesto in 1900 for owner the Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII). Ambush II has a place in history as the only horse to carry the colours of a British monarch to victory in the famous race.
Winner of the Grand Steeplechase de Paris, the Algy Anthony-trained Troytown never saw another rival in the 1920 renewal, making all to record a devastating 12-length victory. The Jack Ruttle-trained Workman landed an Irish gamble in 1939, beating Macmoffat by three lengths. The nine-year-old was owned by the Liverpool-born industrialist Sir Alexander Maguire and ridden by former champion show jumper Tim Hyde.
The Grand National was run on a Saturday for the first time in 1947 and 100/1 chance Caughoo prevailed in the fog, beating 56 other horses, despite protestations that winning jockey Eddie Dempsey had taken a short cut in the gloom.
Vincent O’Brien (pictured) made the Grand National his own between 1953 and 1955. Early Mist was an impressive 12-length winner under Bryan Marshall in 1953, while Royal Tan was successful a year later for the same jockey.
Pat Taaffe took the ride on O’Brien’s Quare Times in 1955 and the gelding destroyed the opposition in bottomless ground, beating Tudor Line by 12 lengths. The trainer went on to win the Epsom Derby six times, the most famous Flat race, while Taaffe subsequently partnered Arkle to three Cheltenham Gold Cup victories.
Taaffe’s father Tom saddled Mr What to Grand National glory in 1958. The eight-year-old had previously raced solely in Ireland, but took a liking to the Aintree fences and the heavy going to beat Tiberetta by 30 lengths, becoming the last horse to win the race as a novice in the process.
L’Escargot emulated the great Golden Miller in 1975 to become only the second horse to triumph in the Cheltenham Gold Cup and the Grand National, although he did not complete the double in the same season, something achieved by Golden Miller. The Dan Moore-trained gelding was a comfortable 15-length winner beating Red Rum who had been victorious in the previous two seasons and went on to record a record-breaking third triumph in 1977.
Having ridden L’Escargot to victory, Tommy Carberry returned in 1999 as the trainer of Bobbyjo. Landing a major gamble, the nine-year-old was ridden by Tommy’s son Paul, and became the fourth horse to manage the Grand National and Irish National double.
A year later, another father-son combination prevailed when the Ted Walsh-trained Papillon triumphed under Ruby, giving the jockey Grand National success at his first attempt.
After two “home” victories, 2003 saw the Jimmy Mangan-trained Monty’s Pass record an impressive 12-length victory and the gelding had been the subject of one of the biggest ever gambles in the history of the John Smith’s Grand National.
Ruby Walsh partnered Hedgehunter to an impressive win in 2005 and the Willie Mullins-trained nine-year-old became the first winner for 22 years to carry more than 11 stone to victory. Hedgehunter finished a gallant runner-up the following year, behind another Irish-trained winner, Numbersixvalverde, who was trainer Martin Brassil’s first runner in the world’s greatest chase.
Another trainer emerged victorious with his first runner in the John Smith’s Grand National in 2007. Gordon Elliott had not even had a winner in his homeland, but Silver Birch was a game scorer, beating McKelvey by three quarters of a length in a great finish.
Comply Or Die spoiled what would have otherwise been an Irish one, two, three in 2008 as King Johns Castle, Snowy Morning and Slim Pickings filled the places.
Southern Vic and Snowy Morning finished closest of the 11-strong Irish contingent in 2009 when eighth and ninth. Black Apalachi, who unseated his rider at the 22nd the previous year, did best of the 10 Irish-trained contenders in 2010, taking second to Don’t Push It, while Snowy Morning once again completed (sixth).
Seabass, trained by Ted Walsh and ridden by his daughter Katie, came home third behind Neptune Collonges in 2012, while Oscar Time returned to Aintree last year to finish fourth to Auroras Encore.
Double Seven continued Brassil’s excellent record in the 2014 Crabbie’s Grand National when taking third behind Pineau De Re, who was trained in Ireland for most of his career before being bought to race in Britain.
IRISH – TRAINED WINNERS
YEAR HORSE AGE/WGT JOcKEY TRAINER OWNER PRICE
Grand National Irish-trained winners since 1900
2007 Silver Birch 10-10-06 Robbie power Gordon elliott Brian Walsh 33/1
2006 Numbersixvalverde 10-10-08 Niall Madden Martin Brassil Bernard Carroll 11/1
2005 Hedgehunter 09-11-01 Ruby Walsh Willie Mullins Trevor Hemmings 7/1F
2003 Monty’s pass 10-10-07 Barry Geraghty Jimmy Mangan dee Racing Syndicate 16/1
2000 Papillon 09-10-12 Ruby Walsh Ted Walsh Betty Moran 10/1
1999 Bobbyjo 09-10-10 paul Carberry Tommy Carberry Bobby Burke 10/1
1975 L’Escargot 12-11-03 Tommy Carberry Dan Moore Raymond Guest 13/2
1958 Mr What 08-10-06 Arthur Freeman Tom Taaffe david Coughlan 18/1
1955 Quare Times 09-11-00 pat Taaffe vincent O’Brien Mrs W Welman 100/9
1954 Royal Tan 10-11-07 Bryan Marshall vincent O’Brien Joe Griffin 8/1
1953 Early Mist 08-11-02 Bryan Marshall vincent O’Brien Joe Griffin 20/1
1947 Caughoo 08-10-00 eddie dempsey H Mcdowell John Mcdowell 100/1
1939 Workman 09-10-06 Tim Hyde Jack Ruttle Sir Alexander Maguire 100/8
1920 Troytown 07-11-09 Mr Jack Anthony Algy Anthony T Collins-Gerrard 6/1
1900 Ambush II 06-11-03 Algy Anthony Algy Anthony prince Of Wales 4/1