Katie Walsh takes Irish Grand National on Thunder And Roses
Walsh becomes third female jockey to win as Gigginstown horses dominate big race at Fairyhouse
Katie Walsh celebrates with her father Ted after winning the Irish Grand National on Thunder and Roses at Fairyhouse. Photograph Cyril Byrne The Irish Times
Katie Walsh celebrates after guiding Thunder And Roses to victory in The BoyleSports Irish Grand National at Fairyhouse. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA
Dedigout ridden by Paul Carberry stretches away to win the Keelings Irish Strawberry Hurdle at Fairhouse. Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho
Buiseness Sivola ridden by Paul Townend leads the field home to win The REA Grimes Property Consultants Hurdle at Fairyhouse. Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho
Katie Walsh became only the third female jockey in history to claim the BoyleSports Irish Grand National as she guided Thunder And Roses to an emotional victory at Fairyhouse.
It is 31 years since Ann Ferris struck gold aboard Bentom Boy, while Nina Carberry also enjoyed National glory aboard Organisedconfusion in 2011.
Thunder And Roses was a 20-1 shot for the Easter Monday highlight for Sandra Hughes, who took over the training licence following the death of her father, Dessie, who trained Timbera to win the 2003 Irish Grand National, in November.
The seven-year-old was part of a wave of three runners for leading owners Gigginstown House Stud disputing the lead at the top of the home straight.
Thunder And Roses, Rule The World and Band Of Blood jumped the final fence virtually as one, but it was the former who picked up best, galloping all the way to the line to secure a four-and-a-quarter-length victory.
Rule The World held onto the runner-up spot from Sizing Coal, with Band Of Blood weakening on the run-in for fourth spot.
In a dramatic race, five horses came to grief at the first fence and only nine of the 28 runners completed the course.
Walsh said: “This is absolutely class, I’ve had some fantastic days, but this is an Irish National, it’s great for women in racing.”
Hughes said: “Katie was absolutely fantastic, she just suited him to a tee. She was brilliant and he (Thunder And Roses) was brilliant.
“Someone above was helping us out. Dad always loved this race and to do it for him is wonderful. Dad was with us all the way.”
Tony McCoy, riding in his final Irish Grand National before retirement, finished sixth aboard the Paul Webber-trained Cantlow.
“The horse ran well but the ground was a little bit tacky for him,” said McCoy. “I thought he had a little chance turning in, but the ground got the better of him.
“It was great for Sandra Hughes and Katie Walsh – brilliant.”
Last year’s winner Thousand Stars had to make do with an honourable second as Dedigout (2-1 favourite) rounded off an excellent campaign with a resounding triumph under Paul Carberry in the Keelings Irish Strawberry Hurdle.
Trainer Tony Martin said: “Last year he looked like a real World Hurdle horse but then chipped his knee in December.
“He’s had a great year and we’ll lock him up now for next year and take it from there.”
The Co Meath trainer went on to complete a double as 4-1 favourite I Shot The Sheriff scooted home in the Boomerang Animal Bedding Handicap Hurdle under Paul Townend.
Willie Mullins was predictably amongst the winners once again, getting the afternoon off to a flyer with the Paul Townend-ridden Buiseness Sivola (7-1) in the REA Grimes Property Consultants Hurdle.
Mullins said: “We’ll look forward to Punchestown now.”
The champion trainer was back in the winner’s enclosure after 9-4 favourite Sempre Medici proved much too good for his opponents in the Rathbarry & Glenview Studs Novice Hurdle in the hands of Ruby Walsh.
Even better was to come for Ruby Walsh and Mullins as the much-vaunted Vroum Vroum Mag (1-4 favourite) sauntered 13 lengths clear in the John & Chich Fowler Memorial EBF Mares Chase.