The Best Day Of My Life . . . Mud-Splattered Jockey Caoilin Quinn Salutes Nassalam After Dominant Chepstow Triumph

Caoilin Quinn celebrates winning The Coral Welsh Grand National Handicap Chase on Nassalam at Chepstow Racecourse. Pic: Getty Images.

The Best Day Of My Life . . . Mud-Splattered Jockey Caoilin Quinn Salutes Nassalam After Dominant Chepstow Triumph

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By Paul Jones

Jockey Caoilin Quinn reckoned it was the best day of his life after he turned the Coral Welsh Grand National into a mud-splattered procession on Nassalam.

The big race winner capped an afternoon to remember for trainer Gary Moore when showing stamina in abundance to trumph at Chepstow.

Moore had already enjoyed Grade Two success at the racecourse on Wednesday and also seen his Clarence House Chase winner Editeur Du Gite bounce back to his best to defend his Desert Orchid title at Kempton before Nassalam headed out as the 9-2 joint-favourite.

Some 4lb well-in under a penalty for winning the Welsh National Trial at the course earlier this month, the six-year-old was tracking the pace set by the front-running Amateur in the early stages of what was a typically testing renewal of the marathon event.

Passing their point of departure for a second lap of Chepstow, it was only the John Flint-trained Amateur and Paul Nicholls’ Complete Unknown, scraping the paint on the inside, that were recognisable from their silks as the gruelling conditions began to take a toll.

Owned by John and Yvonne Stone, Nassalam joined Amateur midway down the back and led those left standing into the home straight for the final five fences, with Welsh trainer Sam Thomas’ 2021 hero Iwilldoit and Complete Unknown in hot pursuit.

A blunder from Complete Unknown soon knocked the Ditcheat challenger out of contention and although Iwilldoit gamely gave chase, Nassalam was not for catching as he extended clear up the Chepstow straight.

He was 15 lengths to the good jumping two out and extended that advantage to 34 lengths as big-race jockey Caoilin Quinn added another facile triumph to Salver’s victory in the Grade two Finale Juvenile Hurdle only 40 minutes earlier.

Jonjo O’Neill’s Iron Bridge eventually claimed the silver medal, with Iwilldoit in third, but the afternoon belonged to the mud-loving Nassalam who was introduced at 25-1 by both Paddy Power and Betfair for the Randox Grand National at Aintree.

Winning jockey Quinn said: “I’m over the moon – I can’t believe it. We got halfway down the back and he was almost running away with me.

“I was thinking it was a long way out, but turning in he was still hard on it. As we jumped three out, I’ve given him a kick, but never realised how far clear I was.”

The 22-year-old Irish rider added: “This is the best day of my life and the best winner of my life.

“Long may it continue. It’s unbelievable to win these two races, but it just shows how much our horses love the mud. They seem to produce their best when the ground is like this and they’re two superstars.

“This is where everyone wants to be, riding big winners like this. Everyone works hard in the yard and we’re a great team. We’ve had a brilliant day today, which I’m so thankful for.

“I came over to Britain when I was 16 and things are going well now. I broke my collarbone at the start of the summer and it was slow to get going, but I’ve plenty of momentum now going into 2024.

“I’m a bit behind in the conditional jockeys’ championship, but had a slow start and the dream sort of went a couple of months ago, although it’s still a possibility so we’ll try our best.”

Moore said: “Last year he never had his ground and I probably ran him over the wrong trip, probably on the short side. But I think blinkers and soft ground have brought out the improvement in him.

“I was watching it in the parade ring at Kempton and I was just pleased when he got over the last. Watching I thought he was handy enough and he had to go six furlongs further than he did last time, but obviously Caoilin knows more than me.

“He’s a very good rider and his 3lb is very useful. He’s a good lad. The owner has been very loyal to him and let him ride the horse and he’s repaid them for it.

“He’s still only a young horse and I would like to think there will be a bit more improvement to come.

“I need to speak to the owner and he’s not going to be easy to place now, so we will need to have a chat to decide where we go next. But in the back of my mind I would like to train him for a National. If it is like when Red Marauder won it then that would be perfect.”

Of his memorable 73-1 treble, which came in the space of an hour, he went on: “They are few and far between so you have to make the most of it.

“We’ll go home now and I’ll probably go back to the yard, make sure everything is all right and give them a hand. Then I’ll go to the gym tonight, just go for a swim, and then get a bit of dinner.”

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