Retiring Power backs Aintree’s future
Grand National-winning jockey Robbie Power doesn’t believe there is a “huge necessity” to cut the number of runners in the Aintree showpiece in the future.
Calls have been heard to reduce the field size from 40 down to 30, but Power doesn’t believe such a move is needed.
Grand National pedigree
Power, 40, became one of jumps racing’s most experienced riders and tasted victory on only his second ride in the Aintree contest aboard Silver Birch in 2007 for trainer Gordon Elliott.
The Irish rider had what proved his final Grand National ride on Poker Party for trainer Henry De Bromhead, as he announced at the Punchestown Festival last week that he was retiring from race-riding.
He feels Aintree can adequately host the current maximum field of 40.
“I don’t think a huge necessity to cut the size of the field for the English Grand National. There’s plenty of room on the track for 40 runners,” he told BoyleSports.
Instead, the now-retired rider says maintaining the safest ground is a key point for the race.
“I think the most important thing with regards to the Grand National is that the ground should be closer to soft than good,” he added.
Power calls time on career
Alongside that famous Aintree score on Silver Birch, Power tasted Cheltenham Gold Cup glory on Sizing John for long-term ally Jessica Harrington in 2017 amidst his many big-race winners in a decorated career in both Britain and Ireland.
After partnering Magic Daze to Punchestown Festival glory for De Bromhead last week, Power revealed his decision to call time on his career, due to increasing problems with injuries.
“It’s down to the injuries,” Power told RTE Sport.
“I had my back operated on last summer, got back in October and then I fractured my hip. I’m 41 next month and I’m not getting any younger. I had injections in my hip but it didn’t really work.
“My wife knew and my agent knew, but my father always told me if you tell one person you’ve told one person too many so I was trying to keep it as quiet as possible.
“There’s been several days I’ve woke up thinking this was it. If I’d won the Gold Cup I’d have gone then, but Punchestown has been lucky for me so to go here, where I rode my first winner and now I’m guaranteed to ride my last one here, that will do.”
Harrington alliance the standout from excellent career
Power has long been associated with Harrington’s jumps team and they enjoyed a tremendous run in the spring of 2017 as Sizing John completed a Gold Cup hat-trick at Leopardstown, Cheltenham and Punchestown.
The last of those wins saw the Alan and Ann Potts runner fending off Coneygree and Djakadam in a terrific finish, a race Power labelled the ‘best he ever rode in’.
His relationship with Harrington was a staple of his career, however.
“I’ve been doing it 21 years and if someone said I’d ride the winners I have I’d have taken it,” he added.
“To ride for Jessica Harrington basically my whole career, I’ve been very lucky.
“She took me under her wing and nearly all my big winners were for her. She stood by me through all the highs and lows and has been an unbelievable mentor to me.”