/ Racing

Liberty Counsel shocks at Fairyhouse to land the Irish Grand National

Updated: Tuesday, 02 Apr 2013 09:47 | Comments

Liberty Counsel (left) jumps clear of Away We Go en route to landing the Irish Grand National
Liberty Counsel (left) jumps clear of Away We Go en route to landing the Irish Grand National

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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.

Liberty Counsel was settled in the middle of the pack for the majority of the three-mile-five-furlong journey, but some fine leaps down the back straight brought her into contention.

Dalton was hard at work turning for home and his mount appeared at the mercy of Away We Go (25-1), with Paul Townend looking for dangers after jumping the second-last fence.

There was little to choose between the pair jumping the final obstacle, but Liberty Counsel dug deep into his reserves to take the prize by half a length.

Home Farm (10-1) and Sweeney Tunes (12-1) rounded off the placings in third and fourth respectively.

The surprise result means Away We Go's handler Willie Mullins is still searching for a first Irish Grand National win.

Dalton said: "The going was a big help to her.

"I thought if she was fifth or sixth it would have been a great run, but she's improving all the time.

"I knew she'd stay right to the line - she winged the last and kept finding more."

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."

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