News Irish News

Wednesday 26 April 2017

First Grand National win for Jessica on Ladies' Day

Jockey Robbie Power and trainer Jessica Harrington Picture: Sportsfile
Jockey Robbie Power and trainer Jessica Harrington Picture: Sportsfile
Melanie Finn

Melanie Finn

Fair fillies, fine weather and the biggest prize in Irish jump racing. It was little wonder hordes of racing fans ditched their Easter eggs to have a flutter at Fairyhouse on Easter Monday.

With a total of €500,000 up for grabs in the Boylesports Irish Grand National, the feature race of the day was as hotly contested as ever.

But despite having no fewer than 14 of the 30 entries in the big race, Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary was brought down to Earth with a bump by champion trainer Jessica Harrington.

She raced into the annals of sporting history as 9/2 favourite Our Duke romped home, making her the first Irish female trainer to win the Irish Grand National and the Cheltenham Gold Cup in one season.

Geraldine Rowland (left) from Curragha, Co Meath, and Suzanne McGovern, from Kilmessan, Co Meath, toast the Grand National winners Picture: Sportsfile
Geraldine Rowland (left) from Curragha, Co Meath, and Suzanne McGovern, from Kilmessan, Co Meath, toast the Grand National winners Picture: Sportsfile

She fittingly scored her big victory on Ladies' Day and quipped that it's "not bad for a 70-year-old".

Asked how she managed to keep her cool with such a thrilling result, she replied: "I'm not calm inside, I'm shaking.

"It hasn't sunk in yet. It's absolutely unbelievable."

Owners Billy and Sloan Cooper from Coolrain, Co Laois, said they only decided to run the horse at 11.30am yesterday morning.

"We were quietly confident, if the ground had been softer we'd have been even more confident," said Billy.

"We've had a few wins here before but never in a race like this."

Most Stylish Lady judge Jenny Buckley Picture: Andres Poveda
Most Stylish Lady judge Jenny Buckley Picture: Andres Poveda

Asked how they planned to celebrate, their answer was succinct: "Drink plenty of Jameson."

The trophy was presented by An Taoiseach Enda Kenny, who was back in his shoes after ditching them for a pair of runners at an impromptu session at Cruinniú na Cásca.

Away from the track, the competition was just as fierce as well turned-out ladies vied to be first past the post in the Carton House Most Stylish Lady competition.

But it was lady in red Laura Elliott who was named the 'winner all right' for her red Coast dress teamed with a Jenny Packham bag and a Jennifer Wrynne hat.

The dentist was all smiles after her big win, which includes a luxury trip to Italy.

Irish Independent

Promoted articles

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News