Updated: 09/04/17 : 06:10:49
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Sligo jockey wins world-famed Grand National

Special Report

SIXTY EIGHT years of Sligo history were bridged when a local jockey won the Grand National at Aintree yesterday evening, Saturday.

Derek Fox (24) rode ''One For Arthur'' to victory by four and a half lengths.

He had just jumped thirty fences over a two lap circuit and a distance of four miles and 514 yards in the world-famous race first run in 1839.

The Sligo town man, from Emmet Place, took one of the highest accolades in National Hunt racing in the bravest possible fashion.

He came back from injury last week after breaking his left wrist and right collarbone on March 9th at Carlisle.

It was only Fox’s sixth ride since returning from those injuries and at teatime yesterday he could not believe he had just won the greatest race in the world.

Fall Off

“It is just unbelievable, I can't believe it'' was his understandable immediate reaction last evening.

He added: ''I kept the wrist out of plaster and I asked the doctor if I’d be able to ride in the National. 

''He smiled at me and said, ‘Well at least it’s a race that you’re unlikely to fall off in.'''

Fox thanked all those who helped him fight back from last month's injuries.

He said: ''I was lucky to get back in time - I want to thank Jack Berry House. 

''Without them I wouldn't have got back in time and I wouldn't have been as fit as I am,'' said the Sligo man.

Yesterday, Fox's mount closed distance over the final two fences.

He raced clear over the final fence and on the run-in off The Elbow at Aintree; only moments earlier his main chance seemed to be gone.

Finishing Stamina

The finishing stamina of ''One For Arthur'' was helped by both his age and handicap, an eight year old who carried just 10 stone, 11 pounds.

Apart from Sligo's pride last night -- even referred to at local Masses -- Scotland celebrated its first Grand National win since ''Rubstic'' in 1979.

Some Sligo punters backed ''One For Arthur'' earlier in the week and took better odds than the Starting  Price (SP) of 14/1.

The SP meant that wise punters collected €150 from the bookies for every tenner they staked.

Any wager of €100 was worth €1,500 after the Sligo man's stunning achievement at Aintree.

One social media contributor said he had earlier backed the winner at odds of 25/1.

                                 ''Winning Grand National is an unbelievable feeling'

Never Missed

Yesterday, Derek Fox was not ruffled by the fact that he had never ridden in the Grand National.

Nor was he phased by two false starts to the race and jumped well, or even when he was a long way back.

Fox had to pull up his 33/1 prospect in an earlier race at Aintree yesterday. See link below. On Friday Fox was beaten by 28 lengths.

In the big race, heavily backed favourite, ''Blaklion,'' took a three lengths lead with just two fences to jump but faded to fourth at the winning post.

Fox recalled his winning race last night: ''He just jumped so well and never missed a fence. 

''He was unbelievable and took me everywhere. . . He just jumped so well, even though he was a long way back,'' said the jubilant jockey.

Derek Fox had yesterday's Grand National debut start through his work with Scotland's leading trainer Lucinda Russell, based at Kinross yard.

Russell told The Sunday Mirror: ''That was amazing, I'm tearful but it is amazing.

''It's total credit to Derek,'' she added: He never panicked. I have just won the National!"

Second Time

It was only the second time ever that a Sligo jockey triumphed in the world-famed race at Liverpool. 

Back on Saturday March 26th 1949 Leo McMorrow had a 66/1 win on rank outsider ''Russian Hero'' at the same venue.

McMorrow won by eight lengths on his nine year old from famed jockey Dick Francis, who was later to become a best selling author.

Left: Sligo jockey, Leo McMorrow, who won the 1949 Grand National aboard 'Russian Hero' being escorted to the Winner's Enclosure after the race.

That day thee were 43 runners and one fatality; yesterday all 40 starters were safely accounted for after the face.

Temperatures yesterday were well in the 20s with an 'early summer' flourish as the 5.15 start approached. The rest is history for Derek Fox.