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Monday 21 April 2014

Liberty breaks free to shock National field

1 April 2013; Liberty Counsel, with Ben Dalton up, on the way to winning the Ladbrokes Irish Grand National Steeplechase. Fairyhouse Easter Racing Festival, Fairyhouse Racecourse, Co. Meath. Picture credit: Barry Cregg / SPORTSFILE
Liberty Counsel, with Ben Dalton up, on the way to winning the Ladbrokes Irish Grand National Steeplechase. Photo: Sportsfile

TRAINER Dot Love admitted to being "over the moon" after Liberty Counsel caused a major upset in the Ladbrokes Irish Grand National at Fairyhouse.

Never sighted when a three-figure price for the Kim Muir Chase at last month's Cheltenham Festival, the 10-year-old mare was a similarly unconsidered 50-1 chance for this illustrious three-mile-five-furlong contest.

 

Settled in the middle of the pack for the majority of the journey by conditional jockey Ben Dalton, Liberty Counsel produced some accurate leaps heading down the back straight for the second time to bring her into contention..

 

Dalton was hard at work turning for home and his mount appeared at the mercy of Away We Go (25-1), with Paul Townend looking for dangers after jumping the second-last fence.

 

There was little to choose between the pair jumping the final obstacle, but Liberty Counsel dug deep into her reserves to take the prize by half a length.

 

Home Farm (10-1) and Sweeney Tunes (12-1) rounded off the placings in third and fourth respectively.

 

The surprise result means Away We Go's handler Willie Mullins is still searching for a first Irish Grand National win.

 

Denmark-born Love is known for pre-training some of the Gigginstown-owned horses and is the first female to saddle the Irish Grand National winner since Jenny Pitman, who struck with Mudahim in 1997.

 

Love said: "I'm over the moon. She deserved it. The ground didn't suit at Cheltenham, but she really tried there.

 

"It's a team effort. She's a super mare and a very good jumper.

 

"Ben gave her a super ride. With a low weight and very good ground we were confident.

 

"I would have been happy if she had been fourth."

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