Grand National 2018 Fact Files
Randox Heath Grand National

Minella Rocco

Minella Rocco (IRE) 8-11-10
 
Breeding: b g Shirocco (GER) - Petralona (USA) (Alleged (USA))
Breeder: Eclipse Bloodstock & C & G Hadden
Born: March 28, 2010
Owner: J P McManus
Trainer: Jonjo O'Neill
Form: 11/3P621/3FU2-4P4F
 
Minella Rocco
© Racehorse Photos
Minella Rocco
 
*Lightly-raced eight-year-old who will be carrying top-weight of 11st 10lb in the £1-million Randox Health Grand National at Aintree - 5.15pm, Saturday, April 14.
 
*Reported as having wind surgery on February 7.
 
*Winless in four outings so far this season, most recently falling at the last when well-beaten in the Irish Gold Cup at Leopardstown on February 4.
 
*Career-best performance came when runner-up to Sizing John in the G1 Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup in March, 2017. 
 
*Fell at the last (when racing in second) on only previous visit to Aintree in a Listed chase over three miles and one furlong on the Mildmay Course in December, 2016.
 
*Last victory came when defeating Native River (the 2018 Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup winner) in the four-mile National Hunt Chase at the Cheltenham Festival in March, 2016.
 
*Trainer and owner combined to win their first Grand National in 2010 courtesy of Don't Push It, ridden by A P McCoy.
 
Jump race record: Starts: 15; Wins: 3; 2nd: 2; 3rd: 2; Win & Place Prize Money: £212,650  
 
J P McManus
 
Born:   March 10, 1951 in Co Limerick, Ireland. Background: John Patrick 'J P' McManus attended the Christian Brothers School on Sexton Street, Limerick. He left his father's plant hire business at the age of 20 to become a racecourse bookmaker, but then took the less well-trodden route of gamekeeper-turned-poacher when becoming a professional punter. McManus recalls one of his first bets as being on Merryman II in the 1960 Grand National when he was just nine, but the bet that changed his life was £4 on Linden Tree in a Newmarket maiden in 1970, the horse winning at 100/8. He had another £4 on when Linden Tree won the Observer Gold Cup at 25/1, and £5 each-way at 33/1 for the Derby, when the horse beat all bar Mill Reef. He was dubbed "the Sundance Kid" by journalist Hugh McIlvanney after landing a number of major gambles during the 1970s. McManus has a host of business interests including dealing on the financial markets from his Geneva, Switzerland, base (since circa 1994), part-ownership of the Sandy Lane Hotel in Barbados, where he also has a house and an extensive global property portfolio. With Coolmore supremo John Magnier, he bought a 28.7% stake in Manchester United through the Cubic Expression company before subsequently selling out to US tycoon Malcolm Glazer in 2005. He was in the news shortly after that because of his stake in the pub and restaurant operator Mitchells and Butler. In 2017, the Sunday Times estimated McManus' wealth at £917 million, making him the 12th richest person in Ireland. Racing interests: McManus purchased his first racehorse, Cill Dara, at the age of 26 and is the biggest Jump owner in terms of numbers in Britain and Ireland, with some 400 horses in training. He owns Jackdaws Castle, the Gloucestershire yard that Jonjo O'Neill trains from, and has invested heavily in improving facilities since purchasing the property in 2001. Mister Donovan provided him with his first Cheltenham Festival success in the 1982 Sun Alliance Novices' Hurdle and McManus has enjoyed 54 winners in total at the meeting - including a record seven victories in the G1 Unibet Champion Hurdle - far more than any other owner. He has also won a G1 Cheltenham Gold Cup with Synchronised (2012) and three G1 Stayers' Hurdles with Baracouda (2002 & 2003) and More Of That (2014). A full 28 years after his first runner in the race, McManus finally achieved a long-held ambition when Don't Push It, trained by Jonjo O'Neill and ridden by A P McCoy, won the 2010 Grand National. He has had plenty of horses placed in the Randox Health Grand National too as well lots of success during the Randox Health Grand National Festival. He has been British champion Jump owner nine times - 2005/6, 2006/7, 2008/9, 2009/10, 2011/12, 2012/13, 2013/14, 2014/15 & 2016/17 seasons. He retained record-breaking 20-time champion Jump jockey A P McCoy as his main jockey from April, 2004 until the rider's retirement in April, 2015. Barry Geraghty took over that position, with McCoy having an advisory role. Frank Berry is the longstanding McManus racing manager. McManus bought Martinstown Stud, Co. Limerick, in 1982 and built a big mansion there in 2004. Other interests: McManus does a lot of work for charity, including his Pro-Am golf tournament, which takes place every five years (it will staged next in 2020) and has raised over 140 million euros. He supports many charitable projects in Co Limerick. McManus is also a keen backgammon player and a big hurling fan. Personal life: He is married to Noreen and they have three children, John, Kieran and Sue Ann. 
 
Randox Health Grand National Record: 1982 Deep Gale (FELL 1st); 1988 Bucko (PU 27th); 1992 Laura's Beau (3rd); 1994 Laura's Beau (FELL 6th); 1996 Wylde Hide (UR 24th); 1997 Wylde Hide (UR 22nd); 1998 Gimme Five (5th); 2002 Spot Thedifference (UR 27th); 2003 Youlneverwalkalone (PU 13th); 2004 Clan Royal (2nd), Spot Thedifference (5th), Risk Accessor (UR 6th), Le Coudray (FELL 22nd); 2005 Innox (7th), Spot Thedifference (18th), Shamawan (21st), Clan Royal (CO 22nd), Le Coudray (PU 21st), Risk Accessor (UR 2nd); 2006 Clan Royal (3rd), Risk Accessor (5th), Innox (FELL 1st), First Gold (UR 23rd); 2007 L'Ami (10th), Clan Royal (11th); 2008 King Johns Castle (2nd), L'Ami (FELL 2nd), Bob Hall (PU 19th), Butler's Cabin (FELL 22nd); 2009 Butler's Cabin (7th), Reveillez (BD 3rd), Can't Buy Time (FELL 18th), L'Ami (PU 30th); 2010 DON'T PUSH IT (WON), Can't Buy Time (FELL 8th), Arbor Supreme (UR 15th), King Johns Castle (refused to race); 2011 Don't Push It (3rd), Bluesea Cracker (14th), Quolibet (UR 11th), Can't Buy Time (FELL 18th), Arbor Supreme (FELL 28th); 2012 Sunnyhillboy (2nd), Synchronised (FELL 6th), Arbor Supreme (UR 10th), Quiscover Fontaine (FELL 17th); 2013 Quiscover Fontaine (16th), Colbert Station (UR 15th), Lost Glory (PU 17th), Sunnyhillboy (UR last); 2014 Double Seven (3rd), Colbert Station (PU 25th); 2015 Shutthefrontdoor (5th), Cause Of Causes (8th), Wyck Hill (PU 29th); 2016 Gilgamboa (4th), Shutthefrontdoor (9th), Pendra (13th), Gallant Oscar (UR 18th); 2017 Cause Of Causes (2nd), Regal Encore (8th), More Of That (PU 30th)
 
Jonjo O'Neill (Temple Guiting, Gloucestershire)
 
Born  - April 13, 1952. Background: Jonjo O'Neill has established himself as one of the leading Jump trainers and enjoyed his best season in 2013/14, with 134 British winners. The trainer's biggest success came when he sent out the 2010 Grand National winner Don't Push It, owned by J P McManus and ridden by A P McCoy. It was a first Grand National success for all of them. He has also saddled the runner-up twice, with Clan Royal (2004) and Sunnyhillboy (2012), plus two thirds. However, as a jockey, he endured terrible luck in the race and failed to complete the course on each of his eight rides. He retired from the saddle at the end of the 1985/86 season, having been champion Jump jockey twice. O'Neill survived a battle with lymphatic cancer not long after that. He started training near Penrith, Cumbria, in 1987 and moved to his present base at Jackdaws Castle in Gloucestershire, near Cheltenham, when the yard was bought by J P McManus in 2001. He has been leading trainer at the Randox Health Grand National Festival four times, with three wins over the three days in 2010, the same number in 2007, four in 2003 and four again in 2002. He has also sent out 26 winners at the Cheltenham Festival and trained two Royal Ascot winners on the Flat. Jockey: Champion Jump jockey twice (1977/78 and 1979/80) and set a then-record for winners in a season (149) in his first championship year. The most sensational moment of his riding career came when he won the Cheltenham Gold Cup on Dawn Run in 1986 as the mare became the only horse to win that trophy after having captured the Champion Hurdle (1984), again with O'Neill in the saddle. He also won the Gold Cup on Alverton (1979) and the Champion Hurdle on Sea Pigeon (1980). He enjoyed nine Cheltenham Festival successes as a jockey and partnered 901 winners in all. Randox Health Grand National Festival- Doom Bar Anniversary 4-Y-O Juvenile Hurdle - Quazar 2002; Betway Bowl - Exotic Dancer 2007; Betway Aintree Hurdle - Rhinestone Cowboy 2004; Bet Mildmay Novices' Chase - Holywell 2014; JLT Melling Chase - Albertas Run 2010; Randox Health Topham Chase - Clan Royal 2003, Eastlake 2016; Doom Bar Sefton Novices' Hurdle - Iris's Gift 2003, Black Jack Ketchum 2006; Weatherbys Private Bank Champion Standard Open NHF Race - Classic Native 2003; Ryanair Stayers' Hurdle - Iris's Gift 2004. Other big-race wins as a trainer include: Cheltenham Gold Cup (2012 Synchronised); JCB Triumph Hurdle (2003 Spectroscope); Stayer's Hurdle (2004 Iris's Gift, 2014 More Of That); RSA Novices' Chase (2008 Albertas Run); Ryanair Chase (2010 & 2011 Albertas Run); JLT Novices' Chase (2014 Taquin Du Seuil); Christmas Hurdle (2002 & 2003 Intersky Falcon); Fighting Fifth Hurdle (2002 Intersky Falcon); Irish Grand National (2007 Butler's Cabin, 2014 Shutthefrontdoor); Becher Chase (2003 Clan Royal); December Gold Cup (1999 Legal Right, 2006 Exotic Dancer); Lexus Chase (2008 Exotic Dancer, 2011 Synchronised); Welsh National (2002 Mini Sensation, 2010 Synchronised); Punchestown Champion Stayers' Hurdle (2007 Refinement); BetVictor Gold Cup (2006 Exotic Dancer, 2013 Johns Spirit, 2016 Taquin Du Seuil)
 
Randox Health Grand National Record : 2003 Carbury Cross (7th); 2004 Clan Royal (2nd), Joss Naylor (PU 19th); 2005 Simply Gifted (3rd), Shamawan (21st), Native Emperor (UR 9th), Clan Royal (CO 22nd); 2006 Clan Royal (3rd), Risk Accessor (5th); 2007 Clan Royal (11th); 2008 Bob Hall (PU 19th), Butler's Cabin (FELL 22nd); 2009 Butler's Cabin (7th), Reveillez (BD 3rd), Can't Buy Time (FELL 18th); 2010 DON'T PUSH IT (WON), Can't Buy Time (FELL 8th); 2011 Don't Push It (3rd), Quolibet (UR 11th), Can't Buy Time (FELL 18th); 2012 Sunnyhillboy (2nd), Synchronised (FELL 6th), Arbor Supreme (UR 10th); 2013 Lost Glory (PU 17th), Sunnyhillboy (UR 30th); 2014 Twirling Magnet (FELL 1st), Burton Port (UR 2nd); 2015 Shutthefrontdoor (5th); 2016 Shutthefrontdoor (9th), Holywell (Fell 2nd); 2017 More Of That (PU 30th)