Leighton Aspell, rider of last year’s winner Many Clouds who finished 16th and last, said: “It was possibly the ground that found us out it was quite tough out there. I thought I would get further before the going became an issue.”
Nina Carberry, on Sir Des Champs, said: “We had a circuit to go so I don’t know where we would have finished.”
Andrew Lynch, rider of Home Farm, said: “He was never going on the ground.”
Trevor Whelan, onboard The Romford Pele, said: “He just got in a bit deep – it was a great experience until then.”
Barry Geraghty, on Shutthefrontdoor, said: “He ran a great race – he jumped he travelled but he just wasn’t good enough on the day.”
Paul Townend, on Boston Bob, said: “I had a good spin of him until Becher’s where I pulled him up. The ground was probably against us.”
Ryan Hatch, on Double Ross, said: “I had the most amazing spin, unfortunately at the Canal Turn the second time my tack slipped, I jumped one without any irons and then had to pull him up. I am gutted, my first ride and the horse was absolutely brilliant and really looked after me.”
Nick Schofield, partner of Unioniste, said: “Unfortunately half way round he was hit quite badly and he had to get his confidence after that, he would have been better on better ground.”
Harry Skelton, partner of Le Reve, said: “It was brilliant, he enjoyed every fence and really took to the race.”
Aidan Coleman, rider of Pendra, said: “He jumped well but just didn’t get home in the ground.”
David Bass, partner of The Last Samuri, said: “He ran a blinder.”
Sam Twiston-Davies, on Wonderful Charm (PU 24th), said: “Yea it was grand, he jumped really well. It was probably just a bit soft for him. He’ll be back next year.”
Tom Scudamore, on Ballynagour (UR 19th), said: “I had a good ride round, he made a mistake at the ditch. I would have got away with it at any other fence but not the ditch.”
Jeremiah McGrath, on Triolo D’Alene (14th), said: “That was great, popped round on my first attempt so very happy. We knew he wouldn’t like the ground so I rode him accordingly.”
Paul Moloney, rider of Buywise (12th), said: “The ground was too soft and the trip found him out as well.”
Jonathan Burke, partner of Goonyella (5th), said: “He didn’t miss a beat. He jumped beautifully, the jumping kept him in it. He gave his all to start to finish. From four out I thought we were going to get close. But gave his all and ran a blinder.”
Mark Walsh, on Gallant Oscar (UR 18th), said: “I was still going well, he just got in to tight and I went straight over his head.”
Sam Waley-Cohen, on Black Thunder (PU 21st), said: “He was going well for a time. He just got very tired and then the mistakes started creeping in. It was hard work out there.”
Katie Walsh, rider of Ballycasey (UR 29th), said: “He was going well, I’d say he didn’t appreciate the softer ground.”
James Reveley, partner of Vieux Lion Rouge (7th), said: “He jumped like a boat got a great run round. He was going well enough three out he just didn’t quite stay the trip.”
Paddy Brennan, on Saint Are (PU 30th), said: “It was just the ground. He jumped well for a circuit and I knew when we went out on the last circuit he didn’t want to go really, he just wasn’t happy.”
Trevor Whelan, on board The Romford Pele (UR 8th), said: “He was going well, he just got in too close to the Canal Turn and that was it.”
Richard Johnson, on Kruzhlinin (PU 21st), said: “I never got into the struggled on the ground.”
Denis O’Regan, partner of The Druids Nephew (PU 21st), said: “It was a super ride but he just didn’t go on the ground”
Davy Russell, who rode Morning Assembly (8th), said: “I got a great ride. He jumped so well, he got me in a false position after the third last. I was trying to fill him up but it just wasn’t to be. He didn’t really see out the trip but it was the best spin I got over the fences.
“I moved him out to get a clear view. He wasn’t jumping as well behind horses and when I moved him out he pricked his ears and was winging fences.”
Patrick Mullins, on On His Own (Fell 15th), said: “I was going very well. The plan was to drop out and I was just working my back in when we came to The Chair. He put his front feet into the front of the fence and that was that. He has run three times with three different jockeys and had three falls so maybe it just isn’t for him.”
Andrew Thornton, rider of Rocky Creek (PU 12th), said: “He didn’t really enjoy it.”
PRESS CONFERENCE QUOTES:
Victory for Rule The World in Michael O’Leary’s Gigginstown House Stud colours came a month after his Don Cossack had landed him the Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup.
Rule The World, trained by Mouse Morris, was a maiden over fences, but O’Leary explained: “He’s always been a very good horse, but he has had two pelvic injuries and has been off the track for two years. We’ve been running him in graded races and he’s been performing very well. This was only my second runner in the race [although he also had two other runners in today’s contest] – we ran another trained by Mouse, Hear The Echo, about six or more years ago after he had won the Irish National the year before. This is an incredible achievement by Mouse to bring a horse back to the track after two pelvic injuries, and to win the world’s greatest race over four and a half miles in soft ground shows the genius that Mouse is. He has always been a trainer for the big day – he doesn’t have a huge number of horses, but the ones he has look incredibly well, and if he would only get his hair cut he could have a great future!
“There’s no comparison between this race and the Gold Cup. 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. I was very relaxed all the way round today because I didn’t expect to win it. First Lieutenant fell early on and Sir Des Champs [who also ran in his colours] went at The Chair, but Mouse and his able assistant, his son Jamie, had this horse right and David Mullins [the winning jockey] for a young man rode a great race. He nearly fell off coming over Becher’s on the second circuit, but never panicked and was very cool. It seems to be a feature of most of the Mullins clan, whatever it is they breed into them in Kilkenny, that they are very cool and collected.
“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. J P wins the National.”
Asked about Rule The World as a character, Morris said: “When you consider the injuries he has been through you can only call him a horse of iron, but a pure gentleman.”
Who could blame Michael O’Leary for cracking jokes, taking the mickey out of Mouse Morris’s haircut and promising promotions on his Ryanair airline – he had just won the Crabbie’s Grand National with the Morris-trained Rule The World.
Yet success for Morris these days comes with poignant reminders that he lost an adult son, Christopher, in a carbon monoxide poisoning accident while he was travelling in Argentina last year. Morris dedicated his recent Irish Grand National win with Rogue Angel to ‘Tiffer’, and did not forget him today.
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: “Winning a National does not make up for the loss of losing a son, but victories like this shows that life goes on and there is a future after such tragic losses. Jamie [Christopher’s brother] has returned home to help his dad with the training and has clearly revolutionised the way they do things in the yard, and while he hasn’t managed to get the old man off the smokes yet he’s performed miracles today and can work on the smokes tomorrow.”
Bryan Cooper, Gigginstown House Stud’s retained jockey, had a choice of three rides in today’s race and looked very unhappy after his mount, First Lieutenant fell at the second and he missed out on the winner. O’Leary said: “Bryan had first choice, and to be fair to him First Lieutenant has been working out of his skin. When Bryan made the decision on Thursday or Friday we were expecting good ground – had it been that way it would have been a very different race. But the rain came and it favoured horses at the bottom end of the handicap. Had Bryan been able to make the decision at three o’clock today he may well have chosen Rule The World – that’s the problem for retained riders; sometimes they have to make tough decisions and they get it wrong. But he had a stunning ride on Don Cossack in the Gold Cup and in time, hopefully, he will win a Grand National.
“This horse [Rule The World] could have been Gold Cup standard but for the injuries he has suffered. He’s nine now and after that we could retire him – I wouldn’t want to bring him back here again, and Mouse will have to decide how he comes out of this race, but if he never runs again who cares? He’ll come back to Gigginstown one day and be retired with Don Cossack and our other good horses.
“We’ve invested heavily in Jump racing over the years and Ryanair has been a huge sponsor and carried huge volumes of people to and from the Festivals at Punchestown, Cheltenham and Aintree. In three weeks’ time we will be flying them to Punchestown where hopefully Cue Card and Don Cossack will have a showdown – Ryanair has been good to racing and racing has been good to Ryanair.
“All our Ryanair prices are all-inclusive now, and since I came over all warm and cuddly two years ago and gave up all that need and greed I’ve won a Gold Cup, two Irish Nationals and a Grand National – if I’d known that being so nice to customers would bring me so much luck I’d have done it 10 years ago! So the deals for the customers will continue, and the beatings of the trainers will continue.”
He continued in wry mode when adding: “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 certainly be coming up with an exciting promotion on Monday to celebrate winning the race. As you know at Ryanair, we’re never short of any cheap opportunity for a fast sale or promotion.”
Crabbie’s Grand National-winning jockey David Mullins came to the press conference late after riding his second winner of the day on Ivan Grozny in the final race of the meeting. The 19-year-old has been a professional jockey for about 18 months, and won the Grade One Morgiana Hurdle at Punchestown on Nichols Canyon, trained by his under Willie Mullins, in November.
He said: “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…
“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!
“Everything went to plan for the first lap, and I was just trying to keep the rhythm that we had all the way round, then at the fourth-last I sent him and he put down – he was a bit cleverer than me, but thankfully that was all that went wrong.”
He explained: “I never really had much interest in racing when I was a child, until I was about 15 when I realised that Willie [Mullins] 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!
“I did a lot of showjumping [as a child] – that’s all from the mother’s side [his mother Helen showjumped, and his aunt Marion Hughes was one of Ireland’s most successful female showjumpers].”
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.
“I was confident turning in, facing the last two, that I was getting a nice lead and I hadn’t gone for everything yet. I watched a video on Ruby [Walsh] and he said when he won on Hedgehunter he got there easily and he waited to the Elbow to give it everything – that was the sort of plan once we got past the Melling Road.”
What memories of past Grand Nationals does he have? “I was here when Numbersixvalverde won for Slippers Madden , who’s a friend of mine, and seeing the excitement on his face that day was amazing. I remember coming over and walking the track with Patrick [Mullins] and my other cousins when I was nine or 10 – more of a fun time and just looking at the fences rather than ever really dreaming of riding in it.”
What was the plan? “I was given one instruction by Mouse and Michael O’Leary – jump off wide and try to get a bit of luck after that.”
What will he do now? “‘I’ve got a day off tomorrow – I couldn’t get a ride! I said I’d try and act professional for another hour…”