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Page last updated at 15:34 GMT, Monday, 13 April 2009 16:34 UK

Niche Market wins Irish National

Tony McCoy on Wichita Lineman
Tony McCoy's mount fell at the first fence at Fairyhouse

English 33-1 outsider Niche Market won the Powers Irish Grand National but the race was marred by the fatal fall of Tony McCoy's mount Wichita Lineman.

Jonjo O'Neill's horse, who earned a memorable win at the recent Cheltenham Festival, fell at the first while Drumconvis also had to be put down.

Harry Skelton, son of show jumper Nick Skelton, produced a late run on Niche Market to beat 50-1 shot Church Island.

Another 50-1 contender, A New Story, was third ahead of favourite Rare Bob.

The winning jockey is the son of top British show jumper Nick Skelton.

Church Island (50-1) was followed in by another 50-1 shot, A New Story, with 8-1 favourite Rare Bob fourth.

The race had started in dramatic fashion with McCoy's mount suffering a crashing fall at the first fence.

Wichita Lineman, who claimed a thrilling victory in the William Hill Trophy Handicap Chase on the opening day of the Cheltenham Festival, was attended to for some time before news of his death was released.

Church Island, who had led for most of the race, was still in front turning for home but a massive leap at the second-last saw Niche Market take the lead.

The final fence had to be bypassed because Wichita Lineman was still being attended to after his big fall at the first.

However, Skelton managed to galvanise his mount and held off the rallying Church Island to clinch a tremendous victory.

Harry Skelton (right)
Winning jockey Harry Skelton is congratulated after the race

Church Island took the field along having being lit up by the application of first-time blinkers.

He was still going great guns half a mile out as gradually the field whittled itself down to around half a dozen still in with a chance.

Rare Bob was one of those along with Ruby Walsh on Pomme Tiepy but both were left behind in the straight.

Niche Market looked to have the race put to bed after the second-last, but with the final fence being omitted Church Island got the chance to come again.

However, he could not quite get on terms as trainer Bob Buckler and Skelton landed the biggest wins of their careers.

Skelton, 19, described the win as the "greatest achievement of my life so far".

"When he won at Ascot earlier in the season that was good but this puts it in the shade," said Skelton.

"There was a bit of grief early in the race but luckily I was always in the front half and I followed Ruby (Walsh) for the first circuit because I thought he'd be in the right place.

"My dad is here to enjoy it so it's absolutely unbelievable.

"A win like this can only help my career but in this game you are never at the top, the bar keeps on rising."

Irish Grand National (Fairyhouse)
1. Niche Market (H Skelton) 33-1
2. Church Island (L McNiff) 50-1
3. A New Story (AP Cawley) 50-1
4. Rare Bob (PW Flood) 8-1 fav

28 ran

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see also
Hear The Echo claims Irish glory
24 Mar 08 |  Horse Racing
McCoy's Cabin wins Irish National
09 Apr 07 |  Horse Racing

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