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Roses in bloom for elated Walsh

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, sister of legendary jockey Ruby and daughter of trainer Ted, 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."


From Belfast Telegraph