Iris De Balme Speeds into the Spotlight
When trainer, Sean Curran, and owner, Lee Power, entered Iris De Balme into the Coral Scottish Grand National at Ayr, which took place on Saturday, all they were hoping for was a good and steady performance. If he had come in in tenth position while running a consistent race, they would have been overjoyed. Winning the Coral Scottish Grand National was never the main goal for them, but it was obvious that winning was the goal for Iris De Balme.
Not to put down the racing abilities of the 66-1 outsider, as he did gain one win in February at the Kent National, but hardly any of the almost eighteen thousand spectators at the Grand National even knew who Iris De Balme was. Old Benny and Halcon Genelardais were most certainly the favorites, and it could be heard through the gleeful screams of encouragement that rose into the air from the grandstand as the 2008 Coral Scottish Grand National got underway. The race seemed to be going according to plan, as Halcon Genelardais cleared the last hurdle in the lead. But suddenly the crowd became subdued as they watched their hopes and winning tickets gradually diminish in value.
A jockey in green and white checks began charging towards the finish line with magnificent speed, which left Halcon Genelardais behind. The jockey, none other than amateur Charlie Huxley, was riding his mount, Iris De Balme, comfortably to the winning position. Punters began scrambling to find out who this powering stranger was. Many were trying to come to grips with the fact that an unknown horse, with hardly any experience and an amateur jockey, had just won the Coral Scottish Grand National in spectacular style. Flintock came in, in third position and Old Benny took forth.
And while book makers smiled at their unbelievable luck and punters cried at their loss, everyone in the horse racing industry wants to know what the next move will be for Iris De Balme and his career. Curren, who is still a licensed jockey and who rides Iris De Balme in training, said that their short term goal would be to see how their winning horse will perform in the Sandown Bet365 Gold Cup and the long term goal being the National Aintree in 2009.
Iris De Balme not only won the Coral Scottish Grand National racing event, he reminded the horse racing community to not underestimate the underdog, and that surprises and glorious tales of unexpected victories can still happen. We sometimes forget that racing is a game of chance, and Iris De Balme used his speed and strength to win a race that those who attended are likely to never forget!