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Saturday 21 October 2017

Angel is on the side of Morris

Ger Fox celebrates his Irish Grand National win on board Rogue Angel at Fairyhouse. Photo: Sportsfile
Ger Fox celebrates his Irish Grand National win on board Rogue Angel at Fairyhouse. Photo: Sportsfile

Fairyhouse was awash with emotion yesterday as trainer Mouse Morris described his third BoyleSports Irish Grand National victory as the most special yet.

Morris endured a horrid time last year when losing his son, Christopher, to carbon monoxide poisoning while he was travelling aboard, and the understandably emotional trainer said afterwards: "This is for Tiffer, he was looking down on me there."

A winning rider in the race back in 1977 with Billycan, Morris previously trained Hear The Echo to win the race for Michael O'Leary's Gigginstown House Stud and it was in the same colours that Rogue Angel obliged in yesterday.

Begrudging

There was nobody begrudging Morris this victory. He admitted that keeping busy has helped him cope with the tragic loss and there was no arguing that the Gold Cup-winning trainer was due this one.

This season Morris had watched First Lieutenant narrowly lose out in the Lexus Chase, Rule The World slipped up going to the last fence when apparently going best of all in the Galway Plate and was then second in a Grade One to No More Heroes, while Alpha Des Obeaux finished second in three Grade Ones this season and most recently at Cheltenham when he came up against Thistlecrack.

In Rogue Angel, he produced a horse that was primed for the occasion and the eight-year-old was the definition of tough when he made almost all of the running under local lad Ger Fox to beat Bless The Wings by a shorthead.

Gordon Elliott, who trained the runner-up, and JP McManus were the first of many up to Morris to offer their congratulations and the trainer was just glad there was no repeat of the closing stages of last year's Irish Grand National.

"When I saw Bless The Wings coming I just thought 'here we go again' after having two in front jumping the last fence last year and getting collared.

"This is just special," he said. "The horse has two great attributes, jumping and he stays all day."

Future

Looking to the future Morris added: "I left him in the English National in case he fell at the first or something stupid happened but he probably won't get in.

"We'll see how he comes out of it but he's an Aintree type."

For Fox, it was the biggest win of his career, his previous high coming on the same horse when they combined to win the Kerry National at Listowel.

From Ardcath, less than 15 minutes away from Fairyhouse, the 27-year-old was grateful for the opportunity.

"To win an Irish National in my local parish is a dream come true. Rides are getting tougher to come by because there's so many good lads coming through but this will hopefully give me a boost now and I'm just over the moon."

Rogue Angel was the second leg of a double for Morris who had earlier scored with Just Cause in the handicap hurdle.

One of the names to note from the afternoon was Elliott's Sutton Place who continued to enhance his reputation by battling back to claim the Grade Two novice hurdle under Barry Geragthy.

Geraghty earlier recorded a facile success on Slowmotion who looks another nice prospect for Aidan and Joseph O'Brien with the latter due to have his own licence in May.

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