Quinlan closes his best season yet with a surprising victory over Takingrisks in the Scottish Grand National
Veteran jockey Sean Quinlan, who admitted his wild side nearly derailed his career, topped his best season ever with his biggest win ever as he drove 25-1 shots Takingrisks to a four-length win at the Coral Scottish National in Ayr .
The thirty-five-year-old is a little late to claim a trailblazing success, but Quinlan’s career has turned and the County Tipperary rider has put it all down to the love of a good woman – his partner Lizzie Butterworth.
The low point for Quinlan came when he received a six-month suspended prison sentence in 2014 for his involvement in a violent incident in a pub, while his career had hit the buffers. But he moved north and changed his life.
Jockey Sean Quinlan celebrates Scottish Grand National at Takingrisks on Saturday
After winning first prize of £ 122,442 on Nicky Richards trained gelding by a sunny but wind-ridden Ayr for a capacity of 18,500 sold out people, Quinlan said, ‘I could never dream of anything like this. I don’t get very emotional, but winning a prestigious race like this will probably be the highlight of my career.
“I was a party jockey, nothing happened and it occurred to me to go back to Ireland. I met Harvey Smith one day during the races and he said, “ Come over to my house (in Yorkshire). If you do the work I will give you rides ”.
“I just left a little bit for some great trainers. There are so many people to thank but I have to mention, including my agent Richard Hale and my wife Lizzie.
“(My colleague) Paddy Brennan keeps saying to me, ‘Behind every good man is a good woman.’ Lizzie grabbed me. She tamed me quite a bit. I used to be a bit wild when I was younger. She grabbed me. She is a good woman and probably made me a man. ‘
Takingrisks won the Scottish Grand National three lengths at Ayr with a score of 25-1
Quinlan and Takingrisks claimed fame, but only after a mistake on the first gates that Quinlan thought he had almost finished his chance before it started.
The jockey, who has now driven 53 winners this season, added: ‘He hit the first and hit the air. I thought those were his chances. It was only the fear that held me. I hung out the back door and prayed to god to stop.
“But then he hit the second and he traveled wonderfully. All the time I thought I was going too easy and maybe we are going too slow. ‘
Harry Skelton-ridden-up Crosspark jumped to the lead at the third-last gate, but through the penultimate gate, Quinlan had his horse back in front and he gradually broke away.
Quinlan said, “I didn’t want to be too fast, but I didn’t want to sprint. Harry beat me next to the third, but he fought back. He is very tough. ‘
For Richards, Takingrisks took the win in a race his late father Gordon won with Playlord in 1969 and Four Trix in 1990.
Third place went to Jonjo O’Neill’s Cloth Cap, who always played a prominent role, with Nigel Twiston-Davies trained Blue Flight, a gelding in the colors of Jimmy Fyffes, co-owner of Dundee United, who was beaten fourth over just over four lengths.
The first Scotland-trained runner to finish was Lucinda Russell’s Big River, who made a lot of ground from the back of the field on the final track to finish fifth.
Favorite Vintage Clouds faded to sixth after a prominent race, while one of the race’s gambles, Irish hope Crosshue Boy, cut heels, tripped and fell after jumping seventh.
The dry ground meant there were five non-runners, including two hope, Nicky Henderson-trained topweight Beware The Bear and Alan King-trained Dingo Dollar.
Skelton may have been painfully close to winning the main race, but he and his trainer brother Dan were still able to go home satisfied.
No show jumping coach has trained 200 or more winners in a season since Martin Pipe achieved the performance in the 2001/2 season, but Dan moved to eight of the double century when first well-supported 5-2 favorite Azzuri galloped his rivals into the ground . in the Scotty Brand Handicap Chase and then Molly The Dolly landed the £ 100,000 J&D Pierce Novices’ Champion Handicap Chase.
Both were ridden by Skelton’s jockey brother Harry and brought the Warwickshire coach to four winners at the two-day meeting for Skelton, which was successful on Friday with Born Survivor and Peppay Le Pugh.
Molly The Dolly’s win was the result of a long-term plan from Skelton with a mare that hadn’t been running since December and the trainer now comes up with an even longer-term plan.
Skelton said, “The owner (Dermot Hanafin) has been sitting still since December. I said this is the perfect race for her and it’s worth 100 mille. It was a long wait and that was magical under a great ride from Harry.
“Everything will be aimed at coming back next year for the Scottish National next year.”
Skelton had great hopes for Nube Negra in the Scottish champion hurdle, but he dropped to sixth after seeing three threats in a race where the class was considered top weight and 4-1 favorite Verdana Blue sauntered to a sevenfold victory by Dino Velvet.
Winning trainer Henderson pulled five of his runners on the map for the ground, but drying was just what Verdana Blue, who caused a shock when she beat stable mate Buveur D’Air in the Grade One Christmas Hurdle at Kempton on Boxing Day .
She gave Conor Brace, a 17-year-old just starting his career, his biggest win.