Daryl Jacob’s family (the Gallaghers on his mum’s side) is from Narin and Portnoo – and his cousins throughout the county including Glencolmcille, Ardara, Dungloe and Letterkenny are over the moon.
Daryl dedicated an emotional first victory in the world’s most famous jumps race to the memory of his friend Kieran Kelly, after getting 33-1 chance Neptune Collonges home in the last stride to win the National by a nose!
The Donegal man credited Kelly, killed in a fall at Kilbeggan racecourse in 2003, as his inspiration to move to Britain in an attempt to make the grade as a leading jumps rider. “This is for my best friend Kieran,” he said. “This is so good for him. I have always said that some day I would ride a National winner.”
Even after winning the National aboard Neptune Collonges, the 28-year-old had to be persuaded to attend the post-race press conference!
The shy Donegal man tried to slip quietly back out of the door back to the weighing room.
He was eventually persuaded to talk.
“I just kept my head down and the horse kept grinding out the whole way to the line,” he said after the race. “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.”
The ride on Neptune Collonges was offered to Ruby Walsh first but, as second jockey to the stable of Paul Nicholls, Jacob inherited the mount when Walsh, who had to miss the race after a heavy fall earlier in the day, chose to look elsewhere.
“I am delighted for Paul and everyone on the team,” he said. “It’s a team effort and I’m just a small part. What a fantastic horse he has been,” said Nicholls. “I knew he would stay, I knew he was fit, but I didn’t know he would win.”
Born in Donegal in 1983, Daryl was put on a pony in an open field aged 8 and loved it. Unlike a lot of professional jockeys, Jacob’s immediate family aren’t into horses, so he spent most of his youth riding with his cousins and at riding schools.
After leaving school, Daryl took apprenticeship with the legendary racehorse trainer, Dessie Hughes for three years. He then relocated to the UK aged 19 basing himself with, the now retired, Robert & Sally Alner in Dorset and learning the trade over Point-to-Points all of which led to Daryl becoming a professional jump jockey.
During his early career, Daryl Jacob tasted much of his success with both Nick Williams, when partnered the talented Diamond Harry to victory in The 2010 Hennessey Cognac Gold Cup and in the past was very successful on multiple Grade One winner The Listener in Ireland carrying him to success in The Hennessy, The John Durkan Chase and The Lexus.
For the last two years, Daryl has lived in Wincanton, Somerset and was appointed second stable jockey to Ruby Walsh at Paul Nicholls’ stables earlier this year. His most notable successes for the Nicholls yard, at the end of last season, include Daryl’s first ever Cheltenham Festival winner when partnering Zarkandar to victory in the Grade 1 JCB Triumph Hurdle in 2011.
Last season, Daryl rode in 427 races with 56 winners, and so far this year he has nothed up more than 50 wins with more than 30 of them for Paul Nicholls.
Being booked for Neptune Collonges in the 2012 Grand National, this will be Daryl’s fifth Aintree National having run in 2007 on Philson Run where he finished 4th, 2008 on Philson Run but was unseated at the 8th, 2010 on Maljimar but fell at the 22nd and in 2011 on What A Friend but had to pull up at the 27th.
Well done Daryl (We even won a few quid on you).
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