Grand National 2022: How a carpenter turned trainer sold runner to Minella Times’ owner

A trainer has revealed how he sold his leading Grand National contender to one of the sport’s biggest names.

Ciaran Murphy, a carpenter by trade, has expertly prepared Enjoy D’Allen for the Randox-sponsored event on April 9. At the start of this month, his business received a huge boost when JP McManus purchased the chaser. The leading owner won the Aintree highlight in 2021 with Minella Times, who could race to retain his title along with ante-post favourite Any Second Now.

Murphy, involved in pre-training of subsequent National winners Tiger Roll and Rule The World, believes Enjoy D’Allen has what it takes to be involved in the finish.

He said: “The horse was always for sale. I took the initiative and made the call to Frank (Berry, McManus’ racing manager) and once I mentioned it to him he said the horse had been on their radar and that they had an interest in him. We’re a small yard with no big marker, so I’m trying to make things happen for ourselves.

“You have to put your neck on the line. It’s hard to see into the future but we’ve always thought this horse was going to be made for Aintree, he’s a good stayer and a great jumper who will love the hustle and bustle of a big race. I think for a National you need that type of a horse and it’s lovely to be able to recommend a horse like that to Mr McManus.”

Minella Times ridden by jockey Rachael Blackmore (number 35) clear a fence on their way to winning the 2021 Randox Grand National
Minella Times ridden by jockey Rachael Blackmore (number 35) clear a fence on their way to winning the 2021 Randox Grand National

Enjoy D’Allen’s jockey Conor Orr warmed up for the trip to Liverpool with a fruitful trip to Uttoxeter, where he won the Midlands National. That was on another Irish-trained horse and Murphy is hoping the final stages of the build-up go well before his thoroughbred travels over.

He admits his skills from the carpentry trade have come in handy during only his second season in the training ranks – and his next job is to construct an Aintree-style practice obstacle.

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“We are in the process of building an Aintree-style fence and (Enjoy D’Allen) will have a couple of jumps over it this week,” the County Westmeath handler added. “We come from a jumping background and I have also been chatting with Frank – we are not going to read too much into whether he will be suited by the fences.

“We’ll give him a pop over some greenery here and hopefully he’ll take to it on the day.”

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