Belfast Telegraph

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Lion roars to National glory

Lion Na Bearnai provided trainer Tom Gibney and jockey Andrew Thornton with the biggest success of their careers in the Ladbrokes Irish Grand National at Fairyhouse.

A surprise winner of the Ten Up Novice Chase at Navan, the 10-year-old showed stamina in abundance to see off Out Now after the last fence.

Gibney trains only a handful of horses near the track and Thornton is a 3lb claimer, proving that the big races can still be won by the smaller yards. The winner returned at 33-1 and won by four and a half lengths. Jonjo O'Neill's Alfie Sherrin ran another good race in third, with Paddy Pub fourth.

Gibney said: "I only have the five horses and this is unbelievable, just brilliant. The last day was the real shock and we were confident coming here but we were afraid to say it.

"Andrew is a brilliant rider - much under-rated and he gave him a copybook ride, the whole thing was copybook. He is only a pony and anyone could ride him at home."

Thornton added: "That's absolutely unbelievable and full credit to the horse. He is tough and he jumped like a stag. He is very gutsy and never put a foot wrong. I was squeezed for room at the fence in front of the stands but otherwise everything went great through the race."

The jockey, however, was given a five-day suspension for using his whip with excessive frequency.


From Belfast Telegraph