Grand National-winning owner Michael O’Leary has announced he will phase out his National Hunt team over the next five years.
O’Leary’s Gigginstown House Stud operation is one of the biggest in the jumping world, with horses such as dual National hero Tiger Roll and Cheltenham Gold Cup winners War Of Attrition and Don Cossack sporting the famous maroon and white silks.
However, O’Leary plans to reduce his interests over the coming years – with the decision not to buy any more young or store horses signalling the beginning of the end for his team, although his colours will be seen for some time yet.
The Ryanair boss said in a statement: “We wish to sincerely thank all our trainers and their teams for the enormous success we’ve enjoyed over the past decade, but as my children are growing into teenagers I am 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.
“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.”
O’Leary, who lives at Gigginstown House Stud in County Westmeath, first owned horses on the Flat before becoming involved in jumps racing – with War Of Attrition’s Cheltenham success in 2006 firing the team into the headlines.
The Gigginstown team has included a wealth of stars since then – with Don Cossack adding another Gold Cup in 2016 and Rule The World landing a first Grand National the same year.
The likes of prolific mare Apple’s Jade, Road To Respect and Samcro have been some recent headline-grabbers for the Gigginstown squad – with the 922 runners in the most recent Irish campaign a current indication as to the scale of the operation.
O’Leary’s brother Eddie has long acted as racing manager for Gigginstown.
He added: “Michael’s children are now growing, and their activities are leaving less and less time for racing last season and for the foreseeable future.
“We’ve just had our best season ever in terms of winners, and it’s been an amazing year capped by Tiger Roll winning the Grand National for the second time last month.
“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.”