By Martin Mannering
Despite the lack of success for Irish trained horses at the three day Grand National meeting there was still plenty to keep a smile on the faces of the Liverpool Irish.
As always wherever the winners are trained it is inevitable that the vast majority of the pilots aboard these equine machines are from the Emerald Isle. And so it was again with Kilkenny’s Robbie Power and Barry Geraghty from Meath leading a dominant chase for the Jockey’s title with Power claiming the crown of top jockey.
But yet again the fairy story belonged to the Jockey of the Grand National winner as Sligo’s Derek Fox recovered from a broken wrist after a heavy fall at Carlisle just in time to fulfil the dream of dreams.
Fox’s story bears similarities to that of the previous two winning Jockey’s, Like teenager David Mullan last year it was his first ride in the gruelling steeplechase. And like Leighton Aspell winner of the 2014 and 2015 Nationals he has fought back from some personal problems to get his career back on track.
After joining the Kinross stable run by Lucinda Russell and Peter Scudamore he has worked his way to become head stable jockey. Fox only got the all clear to ride last Monday. Momentum But the affable 24yr old’s story didn’t begin there.
Speaking to The Irish World after the race his sister, Sarah recalled: “We always used to build our own mini Grand National course in our field out of hay bales and race over it.”
Derek’s mother Jacqueline explained: “He began riding his first pony, Reggie, at home where his uncle Frank trained him.
“When he was a 9 year old he spent a short term at the renowned Sligo Riding Centre which mainly focuses on showjumping.
“Derek was told by uncle and head trainer Frank Kerins: “You will never make a showjumper son but I can see you going over the National fences at Aintree some day.”
And boy how he went over them, keeping his mount out of trouble all the way round before picking his rivals off one by one until hitting the front before the last. An impeccable jump maintained the momentum and although Cause of Causes pushed him all the way there was no denying Fox and One For Arthur.