Jimmy Magan from Co Cork, the trainer of this year’s Grand National winner Monty’s Pass, spent the weekend celebrating after watching his horse romp home in the world’s most famous steeplechase.
“There’s going to be a party for a week, I’d say,” said Jimmy Magan.
“Monty’s Pass’s jumping was unbelievable today, so clever he reminds me of Red Rum. He’s like a cat round Aintree; he didn’t put a leg astray in the Topham last year and he was like it again this afternoon. He has never let us down in big races.”
Monty’s Pass was always in touch with the leaders, and bang there in the first three throughout the second circuit. Over Bechers second time, his rider, Barry Geraghty, had him travelling sweetly and doing everything he asked in second place behind Gunner Welburn.
Approaching the final fence it was just a question of “How far?” At the line it was 12 lengths back to Supreme Glory, who made up an incredible amount of ground from the Canal Turn to snatch second place from Amberleigh House, representing Red Rum’s trainer Ginger McCain. By now Gunner Welburn was running on empty, but he kept on bravely for fourth prize.
Jimmy Mangan recalled the four-year-old he bought six years ago.
“He wasn’t the easiest horse to ride; he’d throw you into the ground pretty fast by dropping his shoulder, but he gradually improved.” It was 12 months ago, after Monty’s Pass finished second over the National fences in the Topham Trophy, that the plan for Grand National 2003 was hatched.
“I stopped training him in September with a view to giving him a holiday before preparing him for Aintree this time,” said Mangan.
“We took his shoes off and put him out in the field, bringing him back in every night. Then on 1 January we put his shoes back on and gave him two runs over hurdles.”
“He was as clever as a fox,” said winning jockey Barry Geraghty , who was top jockey with five winners at last month’s Cheltenham Festival.
“Monty’s Pass never touched a twig. I just left him alone. All I wanted was a lead on the second circuit and he gave me one of those unbelievable rides.”
Read the full story in this week’s Horse & Hound (10 April), or click here to subscribe and enjoy Horse & Hound delivered to your door every week.