Winning the Grand National means an awful lot to me, more so for the memory and what it means for me as a jockey going forward, where I’ll always be able to say that I am a Grand National winner. It takes so many jockeys such a long time to win this race, if at all, so for me it’s great to do it so early and I hope to take it all in like I would if I had won at an older age.
It was great to have Mum, Willie, Granny and my little brother Charlie there to see me win and I was dealing with it Ok until Charlie set me off – he’s usually a tough little cookie, so to see him like that means it was a special day for us all.
The race itself could not have gone any better on RULE THE WORLD, and beforehand I was given one simple instruction by Mouse Morris and Michael O’Leary: jump off wide and get a bit of luck after that and luckily everything went well.
I was with Bryan Cooper before the race and I saw his horse disappear under him as he fell at the second. As soon as he fell off I felt a little eerie and I sensed that the pressure was all on me to do well for Mouse and the Gigginstown team.
RULE THE WORLD jumped the fourth last a bit tight, got underneath it a bit and we were very lucky he stayed straight when he hit the fence. I had him up on his ears, and as soon as I had him straight again, he was back on the bridle and travelled as well as he was doing beforehand.
Robbie Power went by me crossing the Melling Road . He’s won the Grand National before, so I followed him for as long as possible because I thought his horse GILGAMBOA was going to be the one to beat.
As I straightened up heading towards the second last, Davy Russell had a glance across and shouted to me: “GO ON DAVY!” I smiled for a second but got kicked and just thought to myself “what a f*****g clown!”, and managed to wing the last two fences. I went by the leaders quite easily after The Elbow and had a great lead heading for the line.
When you pull up at the end of the race, you don’t hear or see anything! I had my head down and to be honest, I was just in complete shock! All the “congratulations” and “well dones” afterwards were great and when you’re on Cloud 9, it makes you realise exactly how hard it is to win, especially at the first attempt!
Mouse Morris and Michael O’Leary were brave to put me in on a horse who had never won over fences, especially as this was my first ride in the Grand National.
I rode IVAN GROZNY in the last race of the meeting immediately after my win, and was still getting congratulated while I was on this horse in the parade ring. It was still hard to believe what was going on and so I just thought to myself: “pull yourself together, even if you can’t ride properly, at least pretend you’re in the right frame of mind!”
I took my time on IVAN GROZNY at the end because he can be a weak finisher and he is a flat horse, so we did wonder whether or not he’d have made the two miles. This ride felt like I was on HURRICANE FLY in a bad handicap hurdle at Wexford!!
Willie will be firing a few bullets to become UK Champion Trainer as we head towards the end of the season, and with Ruby Walsh and Danny Mullins out injured, there’s a small chance that I could get some great rides. It’s the Scottish Grand National on Saturday at Ayr and I imagine Gigginstown will send a few horses over. Nothing’s confirmed yet, but I’m hopeful of getting a good ride in this one too.