Thursday 14 December 2017

Grand National joy for JP

NIAMH HORAN Entertainment News Reporter

TWO Irish cancer survivors, multi-millionaire owner JP McManus and trainer Jonjo O'Neill, were at the heart of huge celebrations in Aintree yesterday when Don't Push It won the most famous race in the world -- the Grand National.

JP McManus was deeply emotional when his 33rd attempt to win the coveted title ended with success for the Irish racing magnate.

Speaking after he embraced jockey Tony McCoy, a beaming McManus said he wanted to give his racing manager Frank Berry special thanks. "He found the horse in Listowel. Without Frank we would not have had the horse. Full marks to Jonjo and the team as he's been a difficult horse down the years to keep right and keep his mind right."

Jonjo O'Neill, famous for winning the Cheltenham Gold Cups on Dawn Run, said he did very little with the horse: "I don't go near him, he's out in the field with a few sheep," he said modestly.

"I'm delighted it happened for him," continued O'Neill, "I'm delighted for AP and JP."

"If you get enough goes at something and you keep going, once you're in there you've always got a chance. I'm delighted for JP as he's the best supporter this game has ever had," said McCoy.

The 10-1 joint favourite, who was backed down from 20-1, also gave trainer Jonjo O'Neill his first win, beating Black Apalachi, with State of Play, third, and Big Fella Thanks, fourth.

"My trainer put me on the right one if truth be known," said McCoy. "I asked him to toss a coin and he tossed it a few times until he got Don't Push It. I couldn't have picked it, but Jonjo was adamant."

Top jockey Ruby Walsh, who was due to ride, missed the National because of a suspected broken arm. It was also a bad day for Irish bookies who lost €1.5m on the race.

See Sport Section

Sunday Independent

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