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Mullins' National agony

Willie Mullins' quest to secure an elusive first victory in the Irish Grand National was foiled in agonising fashion by the 50/1 rag Liberty Counsel, as the lucrative winner's share of the €250,000 showpiece instead winged its way to Mullingar.

Unheralded 21-year-old claiming jockey Ben Dalton drove the gallant, bold-jumping mare to a famous win for veteran handler Dot Love, a popular Danish-born lady whose 13 individual runners this term pales alongside Mullins' battalions.

Following similar fairytale wins in the Fairyhouse feature for the likes of Lion Na Bearnai, Organisedconfusion and Bluesea Cracker, Liberty Counsel's success was another immensely well-received verdict, for all that she went largely unsupported by punters.

Indeed, Mullins' runner-up Away We Go was also friendless, a 25/1 shot that Ruby Walsh passed over for stable-mate Marasonnien.

In an absorbing encounter, Paul Townend's mount fell just short, but few begrudged Love and Dalton their moment in the spotlight on a crisp April afternoon that saw attendance swell 14pc to 15,125.

Irish Independent