Category: Archive

Walshes turn Grand National into an Irish family affair

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Andrew Bushe

DUBLIN — The country’s latest champion, Grand National winner Papillon, received a huge welcome home to Kill, Co. Kildare, where the fairy tale father– son winning double of trainer and jockey are based.

RTE racing pundit Ted Walsh trained the winner of the prestigious race at Liverpool’s famous Aintree track and his 20-year-old son Ruby — in his Grand National debut — steered him to victory by a length over the notoriously unforgiving fences Saturday.

It was a mirror image of last year, when a similar Irish father-and-son combination won the world’s greatest steeplechase race over the 4 1/2 miles.

After a drought of 24 years without an Irish winner, Bobbyjo romped home last year by 10 lengths. Nursing him over the fences was jockey Brian Carberry and cheering him on was trainer/father Tommy from Ratoath, Co. Meath.

Tommy had also been the last Irish jockey to bring the honor home when he rode L’Escargot to victory in 1975 beating the legendary Red Rum.

Never miss an issue of The Irish Echo

Subscribe to one of our great value packages.

Papillon, in the colors of American owner Betty Maxwell Moran, had been runner up to Bobbyjo in the Irish Grand National two years ago.

Five horses had died at the Aintree meeting last week, but the sufferers after the Grand National were the bookies, who are reckoned to have lost about £2 million.

Heavy betting cut the odds on Papillon from 50/1 last week to 10/1 second favorite at the start. On the day of the race the odds shortened from 33/1.

Ruby had only recently returned to racing after missing most of the season recuperating from a broken leg.

"It was a great 24 hours. It was 24 hours I’ll definitely never forget," Ruby said upon his return to Ireland Sunday. "The greatest day of my life, a super thrill."

Proud father Ted, who said at Aintree, "It’s a great day to be alive," was savoring his victory as the Gelding remained apparently unmoved by the huge crowds in Kill for his victory parade through the town.

"Training the horse was for me was a great feeling altogether, but I was so proud to have Ruby on board. Like any father or mother, you have great pride in your children and I was so happy."

Ted revealed he had placed his bet at good odds last week.

"It was a huge gamble," he said. "I don’t know where it all stemmed from. I had a few bob on him at 50/1 when I saw how good the ground was, not a whole lot as I wouldn’t be a big punter. It just snowballed on Saturday morning. I have never seen such a gamble."

Other Articles You Might Like

Sign up to our Daily Newsletter

Click to access the login or register cheese