One of the biggest and loudest cheers following the 2012 Grand National in Aintree was in the Killybegs, Kilcar and Narin areas when jockey Daryl Jacob rode the winner in the world’s most famous steeple chase on Saturday.
The 28-year-old Donegal native dedicated an emotional first victory in the blue riband event to the memory of his friend Kieran Kelly, after getting the 33-1 chance Neptune Collonges home in the last stride to clutch victory in a classic finish.
But first cousin Declan Gallagher from Kilcar said that it was also an emotional and exciting day for all the family. “I have no doubt that his Uncle Ciaran was on to him on the phone no sooner as he was off the horse,” he told the Democrat/DPP.
The Grand National winner’s mother is Anne Gallagher from Narin while father Des, worked for a number of years on board the “Sheanne” out of Killybegs, before Daryl and his family moved south to Davistown in Wexford, a few miles from Enniscorthy.
Declan claims that his own decision not to back his cousin, helped him win it. He joked: ”Every time I decide to back Daryl, he would lose so this time, I left the slip in the pocket and he won. His win would be very popular in the Killybegs area. A win for Daryl in any race, is a poor return for any of the bookies here, so I expect Saturday was no different.”
Declan said his cousin’s biggest win to date was in the Lexus Chase on ‘The Listener’ in Leopardstown a few years back. “He is totally dedicated to his profession. This is a fantastic reward in what is a very tough sport. He has been riding many of Paul Nichols horses in the big races, so it came as no surprise and we are absolutely thrilled with his success.” He continued: “Daryl has never lost his love for Donegal and most summers he gets home, includes a few days up here, but this year he’s getting married, so he may not make it over.”
After the race Daryl said: “I just kept my head down and the horse kept grinding out the whole way to the line. I wasn’t sure where the winning line was but I knew that, inch by inch, I was starting to grind the other horse down. Luckily enough, we held on just enough to get there. ’Nipper’ was very, very good. He got me out of trouble the whole way. He knew exactly what pace he was going I just had to trust him. I don’t think he missed a beat all the way round and he loved it.”