16 April 2018

Following on from an incredibly successful Cheltenham Festival for the Irish, the world-famous Aintree Grand National (Gr3) on Saturday saw the first four places filled by Irish-trained horses, with the first three home also being Irish-bred.  The Gigginstown Stud owned eight-year-old TIGER ROLL (IRE) held on to win the great race, from a gallant PLEASANT COMPANY (IRE) in second for Willie Mullins, who got to within a head of the winner on the line, BLESS THE WINGS (IRE) in third, also trained by Elliott, and the Tony Martin-trained ANIBALE FLY fourth. 

Ridden by Davy Russell, the oldest jockey in the race, TIGER ROLL (IRE) was giving trainer Gordon Elliott his second Grand National success, following on from SILVER BIRCH (IRE) in 2007.  The son of Epsom Derby winner AUTHORIZED (IRE), TIGER ROLL (IRE) has a remarkable race record, having completed a hat-trick at the Cheltenham Festival last month, when adding success in the Cross Country Chase to wins in the 2014 Grade 1 Triumph Hurdle and the 2017 Grade 2 National Hunt Challenge Cup. He also counts the Irish Midlands and Munster National’s among his remarkable wins. 

Overall, six of the seven winners on Grand National day were bred in Ireland.  The first of these was the David Pipe-trained MR BIG SHOT (IRE) (Flemensfirth) for owner Prof. Caroline Tisdall in the Grade 3 Gaskells Handicap Hurdle, heading an Irish-bred 1-2-3 in the race, with NOW MCGINTY (IRE) (Stowaway) second and AH LITTLELUCK (IRE) (Mahler) in third.  MR BIG SHOT (IRE) was bred by James McGrath and sold for €14,000 at the Tattersalls Ireland November NH Sale. 

The Tom George-trained BLACK OP (IRE) triumphed in the Grade 1 Betway Mersey Novices’ Hurdle, for owner Roger Brookhouse, giving his sire SANDMASON a second Grade 1 winner following SUMMERVILLE BOY (IRE) in the Tolworth Hurdle at Sandown in January. Both were bred by Paul Rothwell, who also stands SANDMASON at Lacken Stud, where his fee this season is €1,000.  BLACK OP (IRE) was offered at the Tattersalls Ireland Derby Sale by his breeder in 2014.

The Henry De Bromhead-trained IDENTITY THIEF (IRE) followed up his fourth in the Grade 1 Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham on his last start to land the Grade 1 Stayers Hurdle, in the colours of Michael O’Leary’s Gigginstown House Stud, whose company Ryanair also sponsored the three-mile-and-half-a-furlong contest. Bred by Cathal Ennis, he is twice a graduate of Tattersalls Ireland, most recently selling for €40,000 at the Derby Sale. 

Finally, another Derby Sale graduate, namely THOMAS PATRICK (IRE), won the Grade 3 Betway Handicap Chase, for owner David Kellett and trainer Tom Lacey. Bred by Paul Ferguson, he was purchased by Highflyer Bloodstock for €30,000 at the 2015 renewal. 

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