Winning trainer Tom Gibney with groom Lisa Murray and jockey JJ Slevin after victory with Intense Raffles in today's Irish Grand National at Fairyhouse. Photo Gerry Shanahan/

Gibney wins the Raffle at Fairyhouse Grand National

Trim trainer Tom Gibney was celebrating a second Irish Grand National success this afternoon as he saddled Intense Raffles to claim the big prize at the Fairyhouse Easter Festival, 12 years after Lion Na Bearnai won in 2012.

Sent off at 13/2 Intense Raffles kept a steady pace throughout the race and was always in contention. Despite a mistake at the fourth last jockey JJ Slevin recovered well and settled back into his racing over the next few obstacles.

Intense Raffles clears the last on his way to victory in the irish Grand National at Fairyhouse today. Photo Gerry Shanahan /

As he was being challenged by Gordon Elliott's Frontal Assault Intense Raffles hit the last hard and that allowed Any Second Now and Minella Cocooner back into contention.

However the excellent six-year-old held firm in the heavy going to see off Ted Walsh's Any Second Now by a length and half with Willie Mullins' Minella Cocooner in third and Elliott's a further fourth back in fourth.

"I'm buzzing. He came in here as second favourite and we had huge confidence in him and he ran just like we expected he would and that is a very satisfying feeling," said Gibney after the memorable win.

"I could pretend now this was all a great plan (to run Intense Raffles in the Irish National), but it really just fell into place. We were supposed to go to England with him, we actually were in England with him, but myself and Declan, who is my right-hand man, woke up for the race in Haydock Park and the place was frozen solid, that was in December.

"The travelling actually took a lot out of him, so I didn't end up running him for at least five weeks after that, so who knows where he would have went or how he would have ended up, it's just a lot of luck.

"For a fantastic race that it is it did cut up for the Irish National, for the weather to stay the way it did was a big plus for us too.

"The only thing I was really worried about was the weights, they were going up so much. The record of horses carrying a big weight wouldn't be great and he is only six so I thought was he going to be able to carry the weight at this stage of his life, so the fact that he did was great.

"I was absolutely gutted for Daryl (Jacob, who missed the ride because of a broken collar bone suffered at Newbury last Friday week) when that happened, we really were. Daryl was a big part of the horse coming here the way he he rode him and gave him confidence in his two previous runs.

"It's an awful pity for him that he couldn't capitalise on it today, but I take my hat off to JJ (Slevin) he was a fantastic sub. He was cool and he was calm and he knew what he wanted to do and he did it. We had a chat, I told him I thought he had to get around to win it, I don't know if he believed me or not, but thank God I was right," concluded Gibney.

Jockey JJ Slevin was also delighted to pick up the ride and the win.