Family 'delighted' with performance of filly honouring Berkeley victim Niccolai

Jockey Rachael Blackmore with Niccolai’s mother Graziella

Sorcha O'Connor

The mum of late UCD student Niccolai Schuster has said that running a horse in his memory at Leopardstown Racecourse at Christmas was a "very nice" way to remember her son.

The 21-year-old Dublin man lost his life in the tragic Berkeley balcony collapse in June 2015, which claimed the lives of five Irish students on J1 visas and another young Irish-American woman.

Last year, the family's racing syndicate reigned supreme in the Horse & Jockey Hotel Maiden Hurdle with Ellie Mac first past the post.

Yesterday, the horse Niccolai was ridden by Rachael Blackmore, owned by Niccolai's parents Graziella and John Schuster and brother Alexei.

While there wasn't a win for them in the first race of the day - the Sky Sports Racing Maiden Hurdle - Graziella told the Herald she was "delighted" with the young filly's performance.


Student Niccolai Schuster

"We are delighted with her run, she is only a baby," she said. "She ran a good race, it's only her second race. We are pleased with how she ran today.

"It is a very nice way to remember him and well, the name says it all - she is a lovely filly, and hopefully we will get a lot of fun out of her.

"We have had a lot of fun with Ellie so far, and so hopefully with Nicc we will have a lot of fun as well."

Rachael wore the school colours of St Mary's in Rathmines in memory of Niccolai, with three red diamonds across it representing his great love for soccer team Bayern Munich.

"The blue is for St Mary's. He went to St Mary's in Rathmines so the blue and the white stars and the red, he was a mad supporter of Bayern Munich and so we tried to combine the things he loved with our colours," she said.

"I am really happy with how she fared today."

The Berkeley balcony collapse in 2015 killed six students and injured another seven.


Niccolai (21) was among five Irish students to lose his life, alongside 21-year-olds Lorcan Miller, Eimear Walsh, Olivia Burke and Eoghan Culligan.

Irish-American Ashley Donohoe (22), who lived in California and was a cousin of Ms Burke's, also died in the collapse in the early hours of June 16.

A further seven Irish students were seriously injured when the balcony collapsed during a 21st birthday party.

The students were spending a summer in California on a J1 visa.

A settlement of all claims against a number of parties in relation to the tragic incident was reached last year.