x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Pat Buckley recalls how his winning ride in 1963 Grand National all came about

Now the racing director at Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club, Pat Buckley tells our reporter, Geoffrey Riddle, how his winning ride aboard Ayala came about in 1969.

It is 50 years since Pat Buckley, the racing director of the Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club, rode the winner of the Grand National.

Buckley was a 19-year-old jockey and by partnering Ayala to an unlikely victory in 1963 he became the second-youngest winning rider in the history of the race.

It all seemed so unlikely two weeks before the race, but that all changed when he was approached, at Newbury Racecourse, by a man he did not know.

"This chap came in and asked me whether I had a ride," Buckley said. "He asked me whether I could do 10 stone, which I could.

"Then he said I could ride his horse, so I told him I would have to ask my boss first, and he just said, 'Don't worry, I've already asked him'."

The mystery man was Keith Piggott, Ayala's trainer. Buckley had never heard of the horse and his only time on him, before the race, was a quick training spin the next day.

At Aintree, Buckley was involved in a four-way scrimmage with two fences to jump, but his mount stayed on well to deny Carrickbeg by three quarters of a length.

"I was young, and I don't think I appreciated the occasion as much as I should have," Buckley, who retired from riding in 1975, said in an interview with the Racing Post.

"Mind you, I didn't have a lot of time, as I was at home by 7pm and was riding out the next day."

 

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