Ryanair boss and head of Gigginstown Stud, Michael O’Leary, made history when Rule the World won Saturday’s Grand National at Aintree.
Several owners have enjoyed winners of jump racing’s two biggest prizes, the Cheltenham Gold Cup and Grand National, but none have ever captured the two races in the same season with different horses. Golden Miller, owned by Dorothy Paget, won both races in 1934 but Michael O’Leary’s Gigginstown House Stud has achieved a unique feat.
Don Cossack, trained by Gordon Elliott, won the Cheltenham Gold Cup last month before Saturday’s victory for Rule The World, saddled by Mouse Morris to win the Crabbie’s Grand National.
And, Irish-trained runners enjoyed a purple patch in the Grand National between 1999 and 2007, winning seven of the nine renewals. But Rule The World is the first Irish-trained winner since Silver Birch in 2007 and 25thin all. “There’s no comparison between this race and the Gold Cup.
Great photo from Mouse Morris of Irish and Grand National heroes Rule The World and Rogue Angel pic.twitter.com/q7Vra56JkJ
— Sally Ann Grassick (@sagrassick) April 12, 2016
“Our aim has always been to win graded races, and they tend to be badly handicapped because they try their best to win those races,” said O’Leary.
“We’ve had horses for ten or 12 years, and I’ve learned from J P McManus over the years that you need the numbers and you end up with a few good ones.
“It costs a lot of money, but when you win your first Gold Cup it’s worth it, when you win your second Gold Cup it’s worth it, and when you win an Irish National it is, but I never thought I’d win the Grand National. JP wins the National.”
Success for Mouse Morris comes with reminders that he lost an adult son, Christopher, in a carbon monoxide poisoning accident while he was travelling last year. Morris dedicated his recent Irish Grand National win with Rogue Angel to ‘Tiffer’, and did not forget him on Saturday.
He said: “It feels like Disneyland – I cannot believe it. “It hasn’t sunk in yet. Turning in I was thinking, ‘I’ll be very happy with third place’, but someone was looking down on us.
“The way things have been going Tiffer has been working overtime for me. I was delighted to win the Irish race and this is out of this world.”
O’Leary added: “I’d like to give free drinks to our customers to celebrate today’s win, but I’m sure the customers flying from Madrid to the Canaries and Faro to Rome would struggle to understand what the hell we were talking about when it comes to the Grand National.
“We will be coming up with an exciting promotion to celebrate winning. We’re never short of any cheap opportunity for a fast sale or promotion.”
Winning jockey David Mullins, nephew of trainer Willie, is only 19 and only turned professional a year and a half before winning his first Grand National.
— Channel 4 Racing (@Channel4Racing) April 9, 2016
“It’s stuff you dream of. I’m very grateful for all the opportunities I’ve been given all season, and to top it off to win like this…” he said. “I was asked this time last year if I had a ride in the National – I said no, I’ve never ridden a winner over fences.
“To come back the following year, with 10 winners over fences, and just to get a ride in the National, let alone win it, was something.
“Off a light weight I thought Rule The World had every chance, but I was worried about the fact that he’d never had a win over fences before today. “I think it was worth losing his maiden tag over fences for that!
“I never really had much interest in racing when I was a child, until I was about 15 when I realised that Willie was my uncle and there’d be a few spare rides there some day!”
Asked what he would have done if he hadn’t been a jockey, he replied: “Not a lot I’d say – I was no good at school or sports!”
Questioned about what he remembered about the great Dawn Run, whom his grandfather Paddy trained to win the Champion Hurdle and the Gold Cup, he said: “I wasn’t even born then!”
What did it feel like to cross the line?
“You can’t really believe it. “Your eyes start to swell up – the goggles weren’t doing me any favours, as I was trying to pull them down, but I didn’t know what to think, to be honest, and I still don’t.”