Home Sport Other Sport Strong Laois connection to winning Grand National horse Minella Times

Strong Laois connection to winning Grand National horse Minella Times

Rachael Blackmore (left) celebrates after winning Saturday's Grand National in Aintree. Main photo - an old photo of Bernadine Rochford, Racheal's mother Eimir, Catherine Merrick (nee Rochford) and Racheal

The success of Minella Times in the Aintree Grand National last Saturday was another huge triumph for jockey Racheal Blackmore, trainer Henry De Bromhead and owner JP McManus at a price of 11/1.

Blackmore and De Bromhead had huge success at this year’s Cheltenham festival and the 31-year-old Tipperary jockey made history on Saturday when she became the first female to win the Grand National.

While Minella Times ran in the famed green and yellow colours of JP McManus, it was previously owned and trained by John Nallen, the owner of the Minella Hotel in Clonmel.

Nallen is married to Mountmellick native Bernadine Rochford, who is a GP based in Clonmel.

Bernadine has lived in Tipperary for a number of years but the Rochford family are well-known in community, farming and GAA circles in Laois.

Nallen bought Minella Times as a foal in 2013 from Westmeath breeder Cathal Ennis at the November sales in Tattersalls for €31,000.

He later sold the horse to JP McManus, a key part of his operation of trading horses.

John specialises in buying what he calls ‘rough diamonds’ and turning them into winning horses.

He says he has found the best method of making money from horses is preparing them to win at a young age from his training base and selling them on.

Speaking about his horses, John said: “The only sustainable situation is trading the horses.

“It’s not all roses but one good result can carry five or six unprofitable ones. 

“Cheltenham sales are the Mecca, and it all revolves around public auction now.

“There is no private market at all, people would very seldom ask to buy a horse from you at home. Sales work because the trainers are protected by the agents, and the agents are protected by the auction house.”

Another former Nallen horse, Minella Indo, won the Cheltenham Gold Cup under jockey Jack Kennedy for De Bromhead also.

Over 100 horses bought by Nallen have carried some version of the ‘Minella’ name and he called horses Minella Times, Minella Indo and Minella Examiner one night in his hotel as he looked at the three national newspapers at reception. Minella Examiner hasn’t had the same success as his namesakes.

There was a number of other Laois links to the Grand National with Portlaoise-based parish priest Monsignor John Byrne a part of the syndicate that owns Acapella Bourgeois which finished 13th.

Takingrisks, a 14-1 shot, who unfortunately pulled up was bred by James Murray in Clonaslee.

SEE ALSO – Laois woman hoping to make history by becoming first Irish person to compete at World Cup of Ladies Polo in Argentina

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Steven Miller is owner and managing editor of LaoisToday.ie. From Laois, Steven studied Journalism in DCU and has 14 years experience in the media, almost 10 of those in an editorial role. Husband of Emily, father of William and Lillian, he's happiest when he's telling stories or kicking a point.