Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 16 April 2014

Liberty breaks free in National

Liberty Counsel with jockey Ben Dalton, centre, winners of the Irish Grand National

Liberty Counsel ran out a shock 50-1 winner of the Ladbrokes Irish Grand National at Fairyhouse for trainer Dot Love and conditional jockey Ben Dalton.

The 10-year-old mare was last seen finishing down the field in the Kim Muir Chase at the Cheltenham Festival, so it was no surprise to see her sent off at big odds for this fiercely competitive contest.

However, Liberty Counsel was in front rounding the home turn and fought off the challenge Away We Go to record a famous victory for her small-time connections.

Home Farm (10-1) and Sweeney Tunes (12-1) rounded off the placings in third and fourth respectively, while the surprise result means Away We Go's handler Willie Mullins is still searching for a first Irish Grand National win.

Denmark-born Love is known for pre-training some of the Gigginstown-owned horses and is the first female to train the Irish Grand National winner since Jenny Pitman, who struck with Mudahim in 1997.

Love said: "I'm over the moon. She deserved it. The ground didn't suit at Cheltenham, but she really tried there. She's a super mare and a very good jumper.

"Ben gave her a super ride. With a low weight and very good ground we were confident. I would have been happy if she had been fourth."

Part-owner Irene Neale said: "I'm on top of the world. It's the best day of my life apart from my daughter being born in 1986! She's a gutsy little mare and nearly died three times with ailments."