Grand National memories: Papillon gives Ruby Walsh perfect debut in 2000
The name Ruby Walsh wasn’t on everyone’s lips before the 2000 Grand National, even though he had already had Cheltenham Festival success with Alexander Banquet in the Champion Bumper in 1998.
Riding for his father Ted on the 1998 Irish National runner-up Papillon, he wasn’t a fancied contender having shown very little in his prep runs leading up to Aintree’s showpiece event.
This was until 48 hours before the race when he was tipped up in various places, and Walsh saw his mount’s odds of 66/1 contract quickly. Papillon was 33/1 on the Friday evening when Pricewise of the Racing Post latched onto him and his price collapsed, eventually being sent off 10/1 behind Mildmay Of Flete winner Dark Stranger, who started as 9/1 favourite.
Considering it was his first ride in the race, Walsh showed the confidence of someone with plenty more experience than he had at the time of riding around the track, lining up towards the inside where the fences have more of a drop.
Papillon jumped off in the first half dozen and cleared the notorious obstacles superbly, taking to Aintree like a duck to water. After the Canal Turn second time round, Walsh took up the running with Lucky Town, owned by JP McManus’s wife Noreen with Norman Williamson stalking just behind on Mely Moss.
With loose horses looking worrying to the leaders heading towards the second last, Papillon was out-jumped by Mely Moss, but regained the advantage at the final fence with a brilliant clearance.
The only slight doubt after that was when Mely Moss got to the rail just after the Elbow, but Papillon dug deep to record Ireland’s second win in the race in as many years. Bobbyjo had triumphed the year before, and became the first Irish victor in almost a quarter century since L’Escargot in 1975.
Relive Walsh’s maiden win below: