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Page last updated at 14:58 GMT, Saturday, 19 April 2008 15:58 UK

Iris de Balme shocks Ayr rivals

Winning jockey Charlie Huxley
Jockey Charlie Huxley celebrated the biggest win of his career

Iris de Balme (66-1) produced an astonishing sprint finish to win the Scottish Grand National at Ayr.

Amateur rider Charlie Huxley pulled the Sean Curran-trained eight-year-old out of the pack in the closing stages to win the four-mile race by 14 lengths.

Iris de Balme was 26 pounds out of the handicap, but gave none of his rivals a chance, least of all top-weight Halcon Genelardais, who stayed on for second.

Flintoff was third with the favourite Old Benny taking fourth place.

Huxley said afterwards: "To be fair, the horse has jumped me into the race.

"I saw 'Choc' (Halcon Genelardais' jockey Robert Thornton) come off the bridle and I thought it was time to kick on.

"He's a class horse, a class jumper - absolutely super."

Former jockey Curran, Irish-born but based in Oxfordshire, added: "I've been training 18 months.

He might as well take his chance at Sandown before the handicapper gets a hold of him

Trainer Sean Curran

"I rode in the race a couple of years ago, but I was more nervous watching than riding!"

Curran, who has ridden more than 100 winners and still holds a jockey's licence, went on: "He has done it really well, but I didn't think he would come and win this like he did from out of the handicap.

"He is in the Bet365 Gold Cup at Sandown next week - he's out of the handicap again but he might as well take his chance before the handicapper gets a hold of him."

Curran plans to return to the saddle at Plumpton on Monday and added: "I will keep riding as long as I enjoy it and take things as they come."

Alan King, trainer of the horses finishing second and fourth, said: "I was very proud of my two horses.

"Halcon ran a great race under his big weight and Old Benny has run a smashing race too, although the ground might have dried up just a bit too much for him."

Fifteen of the 24 starters finished the race. Wild Cane Ridge, who failed with his attempt to be the first Scottish-trained horse to win the race since 1982, was pulled up after 22 fences.


Scottish Grand National (Ayr)
1. Iris de Balme (Mr C Huxley) 66-1
2. Halcon Genelardais (R Thornton) 10-1
3. Flintoff (A Coleman) 28-1
4. Old Benny (R Johnson) 4-1 fav
24 ran
Distances: 14 lengths; 2¼ lengths; ¾length


see also
Hot Weld wins Scottish National
21 Apr 07 |  Horse Racing
Horse racing on the BBC
14 Mar 08 |  Horse Racing
Quiz the racing team
29 Mar 07 |  Horse Racing


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