Owner JP McManus became an “Aintree Legend” when he was inducted into the Aintree Hall of Fame by racecourse chairman Nicholas Wrigley on the morning of Randox Grand National Day 2022.
The Irish businessman, owner of two Grand National winners to date - Don’t Push It, ridden by AP McCoy to a long-awaited victory in 2010, and Minella Times, on whom Rachael Blackmore became the first woman win the Grand National in 2021 - was accompanied by his wife Noreen, and their children and grandchildren.
A plaque bearing McManus’s name now hangs on the Hall of Fame wall in McCoy’s Bar - named after the legendary 20-times champion Jump jockey, the rider best known for wearing McManus’s unmistakable green-and-gold silks.
The first running of the world’s great steeplechase that McManus can remember was in 1960.
He recalled: “I remember Merryman II, who won that year, and then Nicolaus Silver the following year. The first I saw on television was Kilmore in 1962 with Fred Winter, and after that Ayala, Team Spirit… I remember them very well,” said McManus, reeling off all the winners of the 1960s in the correct order.
“I didn’t come here until 1976 [Rag Trade won that year]. Then I was here for all of them except for the year of Foot and Mouth Disease . I’ve had some wonderful memories here and it would be unfair to pick one over the others, but the day that Don’t Push It won was very, very special. We’ve had a few disappointments, but you just celebrate the wins and forget about everything else.
“I love it, I look forward to it very much. And I hope that my grandkids who are here this year - all of them except my namesake, JP - I hope they want to come every year. It’s lovely to have them here.”
His first Grand National runner was Deep Gale, who fell at the first fence in 1982. Laura’s Beau finished third for McManus in 1992, and Clan Royal was second in 2004. Twenty-eight years after his initial attempt with Deep Gale, Don’t Push It finally handed him a much-desired success in the race.
He has five runners in today’s Randox Grand National: Minella Times (ridden again by Rachael Blackmore), Any Second Now (Mark Walsh), Enjoy D’Allen (Conor Orr), Anibale Fly (Luke Dempsey) and School Boy Hours (Sean Flanagan).