AN IRISH horse bought for just €850 won the $250,000 American Grand National on Saturday.
Hewick, trained by Irish trainer John Joseph 'Shark' Hanlon, won America's premier steeplechase race by more than 10 lengths.
Afterwards, Hanlon dedicated the victory to the late Jack De Bromhead, the 13-year-old son of trainer Henry de Bromhead, who died during a pony race in Co. Kerry last month.
Speaking to the New York Racing Association (NYRA) after the race, an emotional Hanlon said the victory was in memory of the teenager.
"It's a dream come true for us, for everyone, to my own young lad there looking after him, it's a dream come true," said Hanlon.
"There was an accident in Ireland a couple of months ago with Jack de Bromhead and we're all thinking of him.
"My young lad, who led up the horses, it was his best friend.
"He cried there and he said, 'This is for jack'."
Good year for Hewick
Hewick excelled at Far Hills on Saturday under jockey Jordan Gainford, despite the 2m 5f distance being the shortest the seven-year-old had tackled.
But Hanlon was confident going into the race after a fine 12 months for the bay gelding, which began with victory in the Durham National at Sedgefield last October.
Under Gainsford, he won the bet365 Gold Cup at Sandown in April by eight lengths and the Galway Plate in July.
He unseated Gainsford at the final fence at the Kerry National in Listowel last month but there was no such disappointment in New Jersey.
"He travelled so well," said Hanlon.
"Everyone was saying the trip was too short, we were maybe wrong to come here, but this horse has an awful lot more pace than what people think he has and he proved that in Galway and he definitely proved it today."
Gainsford was also delighted with the performance, despite a minor blip.
"The second one down the back the first time, there was a bit of sun on him," he told the NYRA.
“He came out of my hands a little bit but after that he was every foot perfect and just for it all to go to plan is brilliant.”
Irish horses Noah and the Ark, Ask Paddington and Belfast Banter finished second, third and fourth respectively at Far Hills.