ON HIS OWN (IRE) FACTFILE
b g Presenting – Shuil Na Mhuire (IRE) (Roselier (FR))
9-11-00 Form: 10/414P1/B1F-1 Owner: Andrea & Graham Wylie
Trainer: Willie Mullins IRE Breeder: Margaret Treacy
I’m grateful to Racenews for supplying factfiles for every runner in the John Smith’s Grand National. I reformat these and publish as I get them, with the first batch coming out 2 weeks before the big race on April 6th. By the eve of the National all factfiles will be published here. You can find others by clicking on the factfiles tag at the foot of this post
On His Own
On His Own, born on July 10, 2004, was bred by Margaret Treacy from Killeagh, Co Cork. and made a winning debut for owner/trainer Oliver McKiernan in a point-to-point at Maralin, Ireland, in October, 2009, and the Presenting gelding also enjoyed a winning start to his career under Rules when taking a Leopardstown bumper in December of the same year. He was bought by trainer Howard Johnson, acting on behalf of Andrea and Graham Wylie, for a then-record £240,000 at Brightwells’ January Sale at Cheltenham in January, 2010.
On His Own was pitched into Grade One company for his first start for the Wylies and Johnson but faded to come home 18th of 24 behind Cue Card in the Weatherbys Champion Bumper at the 2010 Cheltenham Festival. He made just one start over hurdles, finishing fourth behind Bobs Worth in a Cheltenham novices’ hurdle on New Year’s Day, 2011, before a successful debut over fences two weeks later with a comfortable success over previous Scottish Grand National runner-up Nine De Sivola in a beginners’ chase at Musselburgh. He was pulled up in the National Hunt Chase at the 2011 Cheltenham Festival but ended the season on a high note with an impressive victory in a novices’ handicap chase at Ayr’s Scottish National meeting.
On His Own was transferred to the care of Willie Mullins for the start of the 2011/2012 season, after Johnson was disqualified from training. He was brought down when beaten at the penultimate fence in the valuable Paddy Power Chase at Leopardstown on December 27, 2011, his first start for Ireland’s champion trainer.
The lightly-raced horse was well fancied for last season’s John Smith’s Grand National after being the easy 13-length winner of the Thyestes Chase at Gowran Park in January, 2012, but fell when still travelling well at Becher’s Brook on the second circuit. Connections were encouraged by that performance and he has been trained for Aintree showpiece again this season. He annexed the Grade Two Boyne Hurdle over an extended two and a half miles on his seasonal return at Navan on February 19 and is 8/1 ante-post favourite (March 22) for the John Smith’s Grand National, with official betting partner Betfred.
Race Record: Starts: 11; Wins: 5; 2nd: -; 3rd: -; Win & Place Prize Money: £86,894
Andrea & Graham Wylie
Multi-millionaire Graham Wylie, 53, made his money in the computer software industry. After graduating from Newcastle University in 1980 with a degree in computer science and statistics, he founded Sage in 1981 with David Goldman, Phil Lever and Paul Muller, selling accountancy software. The company grew through acquisition, floated on the stock exchange in 1989 and continued to get bigger. After stepping down as managing director of Sage in May, 2003, Wylie sold a number of his shares and gained over £120 million.
Wylie is the son of Scottish parents – his father was a coalminer from Stirling and his mother a seamstress from Hawick, where Wylie was born in 1959. A huge Newcastle United fan, he married his second wife Andrea Stone at Slaley Hall, Northumberland in May, 2003 – the event was described as the “north-east’s wedding of the decade,” and was attended by over 250 guests, including Alan Shearer and Sir Bobby Robson. Pop superstar Ronan Keating performed at the couple’s wedding (for a reputed £175,000), singing When You Say Nothing At All, from the 1999 film Notting Hill, which the couple saw on their first date. The first horse the pair owned – a flashy grey picked out at Howard Johnson’s County Durham stable – was Lord Transcend, named after Andrea’s hair and beauty salon in Hexham.
Lord Transcend won at 33/1 on his debut at Newcastle in March, 2002, and went on to prove himself a high-class horse over hurdles and fences, winning six times in all, before a leg injury sustained at Haydock in January, 2006, cut short his racing career. Having caught the ‘racing bug’ through the success of Lord Transcend, Graham and Andrea Wylie invested millions of pounds and built up a large string in training with Howard Johnson. At Doncaster’s 2003 May Sale, Graham Wylie set a then record for a jump horse when paying 340,000 guineas for Royal Rosa, which was a wedding present for his wife.
He enjoyed a superb Cheltenham Festival in 2005, taking the Ladbrokes World Hurdle with Inglis Drever, the William Hill Supreme Novices’ Hurdle with Arcalis and the Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle with No Refuge. In 2007, Inglis Drever reclaimed his Ladbrokes World Hurdle title and in 2008 became the first horse to win the race for a third time. Inglis Drever’s Ladbrokes World Hurdle triumph was the highlight of a fantastic 2008 Cheltenham Festival for the Wylies as Tidal Bay also won the Racing Post Arkle Chase. Howard Johnson was banned from racing for four years in August, 2011, and as a result, the Wylies reduced their 60-strong string in half and sent 12 to British jump champion Paul Nicholls and seven to Irish jump champion Willie Mullins. The partnership with both trainers has flourished, with Nicholls sending out Tidal Bay to win a number of big prizes including this season’s Grade One Lexus Chase, while Mullins has saddled Boston Bob and Back In Focus to win Grade One novice chases since the turn of the year.
The latter also formed part of a double for Mullins and the Wylies at this year’s Cheltenham Festival, with Back In Focus winning the John Oaksey National Hunt Chase and Briar Hill storming home to land the Weatherbys Champion Bumper. Graham Wylie founded a new company, Technology Services Group (TSG), in 2003. He owns Close House Country Club and golf course and Gosforth Shopping Centre, and was awarded a CBE for his services to industry in the 2004 New Year’s Honours list. Graham’s contribution to the North East region has been acknowledged by the award of honorary doctorates by both the University of Newcastle upon Tyne and Northumbrian University, and the freedom of the city of Newcastle. The Sunday Times Rich List in 2012 estimated he is worth £180 million.
The Wylies live close to Hexham in Northumberland and Andrea, 40, has also excelled at showing dogs (www.transcendshowdogs.com), another interest they share, winning the best of breed prize at Crufts this year with her Maltese dog Hi-Lite Come Dance With Me. The couple’s twin daughters Kiera and Zahra were born in December, 2009. Kiera was born with a defective heart, which has led the Wylies to fund raise for the heart unit at Newcastle’s Freeman Hospital among other charitable endeavours. On His Own ran last year at Aintree in the colours of Semore Kurdi after the north-east businessman purchased a one-day lease of the horse in a charity auction in May, 2011.
Graham Wylie had originally intended to lease Prince De Beauchene, also trained by Willie Mullins but an injury to his leading hope stopped that intention. Wylie offered the prize to raise money for the Children’s Heart Unit Fund at Newcastle’s Freeman Hospital, where his daughter Kiera underwent three major and successful operations.
John Smith’s Grand National Record: 2007 Bewleys Berry (Fell 22nd); 2008 Bewleys Berry (5th), Backbeat (Fell 2nd); 2010 Royal Rosa (UR 14th); 2011 Tidal Bay (UR 10th); 2012 On His Own (leased for the day & Fell 22nd)
Willie Mullins IRE (Bagenalstown, County Carlow)
Born on September 15, 1956, Willie Mullins was six-time amateur champion rider in Ireland and his major successes in the saddle included the 1983 John Smith’s Fox Hunters’ Chase at Aintree on Atha Cliath when the also-rans were partnered by the likes of Robert Waley-Cohen, chairman of Cheltenham Racecourse, and Aintree chairman Lord Daresbury. He took out a training licence in 1988 and is now the country’s pre-eminent jump handler. As a jockey in the John Smith’s Grand National, his rides included The Ladys Master, who ran out in 1983, and Hazy Dawn, who fell at the sixth the following year.
He hails from one of Ireland’s most famous racing families, being a son of the late Paddy Mullins, the outstanding all-round trainer whose most famous star was Dawn Run, winner of the 1984 Champion Hurdle and 1986 Cheltenham Gold Cup. Willie Mullins rode and trained Wither Or Which to win the 1996 Weatherbys Champion Bumper, the Cheltenham Festival race in which he has enjoyed eight winners as a trainer (also Florida Pearl 1997, Alexander Banquet 1998, Joe Cullen 2000, Missed That 2005, Cousin Vinny 2008, Champagne Fever 2012 and Briar Hill 2013). Mullins’ best chaser to date has been Florida Pearl, who was placed in two Cheltenham Gold Cups, won the 1998 RSA Chase, the 1999, 2000, 2001 and 2004 Irish Hennessy Cognac Gold Cups in Ireland as well as the 2001 King George VI Chase and the 2002 Betfred Bowl at Aintree.
He trains the brilliant Hurricane Fly who has won the Stan James Champion Hurdle in 2011 and 2013. He has saddled 29 winners at the Cheltenham Festival, more than any other Irish handler in history. Mullins has over 150 horses at his Closutton yard near Bagenalstown in Co Carlow and his first John Smith’s Grand National runner as a trainer, Micko’s Dream, fell at the first in 2000. The loquacious Mullins, a former chairman of the Irish Trainers’ Federation, also suffered heartache in 2004 when Hedgehunter departed at the final fence in the John Smith’s Grand National when looking assured of a place.
He overcame bad luck in the race the following year when Hedgehunter came home 14 lengths clear of Royal Auclair. He has been champion Irish jump trainer for the past five seasons and is on course for a sixth title in 2012/2013 after surpassing Aidan O’Brien’s total of 155 winners in a season with a double at Fairyhouse on February 23.
John Smith’s Grand National Record: 2000 Micko’s Dream (Fell 1st); 2002 Alexander Banquet (UR 6th); 2004 Alexander Banquet (Fell 18th), Hedgehunter (Fell 30th); 2005 HEDGEHUNTER (WON); 2006 Hedgehunter (2nd); 2007 Hedgehunter (9th), Homer Wells (PU bef 22nd), Bothar Na (PU bef 29th), Livingstonebramble (UR 6th); 2008 Snowy Morning (3rd), Hedgehunter (13th); 2009 Snowy Morning (9th), Irish Invader (11th); 2010 Snowy Morning (6th), Arbor Supreme (UR 15th); 2011 The Midnight Club (6th), Dooney’s Gate (Fell 6th), Arbor Supreme (Fell 28 th); 2012 The Midnight Club (11th), Quiscover Fontaine (Fell 17th), On His Own (Fell 22nd)