Winning Grand National team keep the party rolling

It was a case of bringing it all back home — again.

For the second year in a row, wonder horse Tiger Roll paraded through the village of Summerhill in Co Meath on the Sunday evening after racing to victory in the Grand National.

The crowds were out in force — including at least one gentleman wearing a horse mask — to hail the first horse since the great Red Rum in 1973/74 to win the world’s most famous steeplechase back-to-back.

Last year, he was back in Summerhill, home place of trainer Gordon Elliott, within 24 hours of landing the big one, and after repeating the trick in style last Saturday, why break a winning habit?

Elliott — who won his third National, having also struck Aintree gold with Silver Birch in 2007 — said: “To come back here and see the crowds, it’s unbelievable, it’s great.

“You get emotional, it’s the biggest race in the world. Everyone will remember Tiger Roll winning two in a row.

“We’re all proud Summerhill men. My uncle passed away this year, he used to take me point-to-pointing and the race was for him.

“It was a great day, brilliant. To come here [and celebrate] two years in a row is great — this is a great community, everyone gets on well, so it’s great to see a big crowd here.

“It looks an even bigger crowd than last year.”

That crowd was estimated at around 2,000 people as the team around the horse, including winning jockey Davy Russell, strolled down the main street.

Russell himself had zoned in on matters close to home within minutes of crossing the winning line, dedicating the latest triumph to former Cork star Kieran O’Connor.

The Aghada GAA man is battling Ewing’s Sarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer, and has become the subject of a massive local fundraising effort to ensure he gets all the treatment he needs.

Russell, from Youghal, said in the aftermath of the race: “There’s a guy at home, Kieran O’Connor, from Aghada, and he’s going through an enormous battle of his life.

“Just to let him know we’re thinking of him. He played football for Cork and he gave his life to sport. He’s a real fan of mine and this one’s for Kieran.”

Back in Summerhill, the celebrations were continuing.

“I’ll have a few quiet drinks in Shaw’s,” Elliott said when asked about his plans.

“He [Tiger Roll] got back about 6.30am — I was in bed before him, but tonight will be a different story.”

Ryanair chief Michael O’Leary, who runs Tiger Roll under his Gigginstown House Stud banner, said: “That they are now talking about him in the same breath as Red Rum just made for a phenomenal, historic occasion.”

He had treated Ryanair passengers to free drinks on his flight home after the race, and joked: “I give away free drinks every time we win the Grand National — it probably won’t happen for another 45 years!”

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