Michael O'Leary: Tiger Roll owner announces withdrawal from racing

The 2019 Grand National Wwinner Tiger Roll with trainer Gordon Elliott (left) and owner Michael O'Leary
The 2019 Grand National winner Tiger Roll with trainer Gordon Elliott (left) and owner Michael O'Leary

Owner Michael O'Leary has shocked the racing world by announcing his operation is to be wound down.

O'Leary's successes include two-time Grand National winner Tiger Roll.

The Ryanair boss and his brother Eddie will phase out Gigginstown House Stud over the next five years.

"I hope that by running down our string over an extended four- or five-year period it will give our trainers ample time to replace our horses without disruption," said O'Leary.

O'Leary has won the Cheltenham Gold Cup twice, with the Mouse Morris-trained War Of Attrition in 2006 and Don Cossack for Tiger Roll trainer Gordon Elliott in 2015.

Rule The World, trained by Morris, started a run of three Grand National wins in four years for the owner when he landed the big Aintree race in 2016.

Gigginstown were crowned champion owners in Ireland for the seventh time when the season ended at Punchestown earlier this month.

The operation has scores of horses with trainers across Ireland - although chiefly at Elliott's County Meath stables after O'Leary moved dozens from rival trainer Willie Mullins - but is unlikely to be buying any more.

"We wish to sincerely thank all our trainers and their teams for the enormous success we've enjoyed over the past decade," said O'Leary.

"But as my children are growing into teenagers, I'm spending more and more of my time at their activities and I have less and less time for National Hunt racing, a situation that will continue for the foreseeable future."

O'Leary is a regular presence at the big race meetings and often displays a wit and good nature for which he is not always famed in business.

He had given no indication of the impending announcement when Tiger Roll last month became the first horse since Red Rum 45 years earlier to win the National two years running.

It may be that the horse still goes for an unprecedented third consecutive victory in April 2020.

"We have lots of young stock to be allocated among our trainers over the coming weeks and each of our trainers will receive their usual allocation of young point to pointers," said Eddie O'Leary.

"Each and every one of those horses will remain in the Gigginstown colours for the entirety of their career so hopefully we can have many more great days to look forward to."

Analysis

BBC horse racing correspondent Cornelius Lysaght

Now this is a shock.

Michael O'Leary has ploughed so many of his aviation millions into racing and has been riding the crest of a wave after the repeat success of Tiger Roll at Aintree.

Unlike some who invest much of their fortune into sport, he's been getting some kind of return. Though the decision isn't instantaneous, it's still a major blow to its economy, particularly in Ireland and particularly at the highest level which have thrived in recent years at least partly off the back of O'Leary's investment.

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