O'Leary and Mouse Rule The World - but remember Tiffer at the National
As he wins the Grand National, Mouse Morris remembers his son who died in Argentina last year, writes Jerome Reilly
Ryanair supremo Michael O'Leary feels like a king today as Rule The World, which had never won a race over jumps, triumphed in the toughest of them all, the Aintree Grand National.
For the billionaire owner, it isn't about the money. To have the Cheltenham Gold Cup and the English and Irish Grand National trophies adorn his cabinet in one year is a dream come true for a man who has poured millions into racing.
O'Leary was in tears at the end of the race, as he celebrated with trainer Mouse Morris and Irish jump jockey David Mullins (19), nephew of trainer Willie.
"I am going to give up after this!" he joked. "It does not get better than this, the Gold Cup and two Grand Nationals.
"This is the greatest prize of all. David gave him a masterful ride. Mouse has had a tough year, Tiffer is looking down on us," he said.
That was a reference to the Tipperary trainer's beloved 30-year-old son Christopher, widely known as 'Tiffer,' who died, in an accident in Argentina last summer after being overcome by carbon monoxide poisoning while on holiday.
The thoughts of an emotional Mouse Morris turned immediately to the son who was not there to share the moment.
"We got a bit of help from somewhere," Morris said. "Tiffer was working overtime for me."
Soon after the race there was already talk of retiring the winner. "I would hate to lose the winner of the National," said O'Leary.
And the horse has already won his fair share of health battles before winning for the first time over the big obstacles. He has suffered a fractured pelvis twice during his racing career, which makes the achievement of both horse and trainer all the more impressive.
Rule The World showed further battling qualities when he ploughed through the rain-softened conditions to land the Crabbie's sponsored Grand National.
Steadily working his way through the field, the 33-1 shot was sitting a close third as The Last Samuri and Vics Canvas jumped the last together.
The Last Samuri battled on at the elbow but could not quite hold off the strong-finishing Irish-trained and owned winner.
Forging on inside the final 100 yards, teenager David Mullins, who tackled the fearsome Aintree obstacles like a veteran, drove Rule the World on and they crossed the line six lengths ahead of 8-1 joint-favourite, The Last Samuri.
Vics Canvas was third at 100-1 and Gilgamboa (28-1) fourth.
Jockey David Mullins. said: "It's unbelievable. I just couldn't have expected things to go better.
"There was one little mishap at the fourth last, but thank God I came out (the other side). Everything went to plan, really.
"Credit to Mouse, he has produced this horse without having won over fences. Then there's me, who has never even walked around the Grand National track.
"Mouse is a genius and he's the best man in the world for preparing a horse.
"I'm very thankful to Michael and Eddie O'Leary for giving me the chance.
"That's the best ride I've ever got off a horse and it's the best feeling to come back into a place like this.
"It was just brilliant.
"You dream of these things, not just when you are a child but when you are older too," added the 19-year-old without a hint of irony.
The win even made a few bob for pop star Robbie Williams, who tweeted: "20 quid each way on Rule The World," he chirped to his legion of fans.