There were emotional scenes in Leopardstown yesterday as Ellie Mac, a 50-1 bet, won the Horse and Jockey Hotel Maiden Hurdle.
What made the surprise victory all the more special is that the horse, ridden by jockey Daniel Holden, is owned by the racing club put together in honour of Nick Schuster, a young Irishman who died in the tragic Berkeley Balcony collapse in 2015.
Nick’s mam, dad and brother were joined by many of Nick’s friends to celebrate the unexpected Christmas gift.
Speaking to RTÉ, John said “This is the greatest day of our lives since the tragedy. Our son died in Berkeley, he was great racing fan. We decided at a party to put a racing club together, there was no shortage of neighbours, friends and support from all over the world.”
“I approached Tom Malone to buy the horse and he bought the horse from Aidan Fitzgerald, two unbelievable talent spotters. She was pulling up on her first race but we never had a doubt in our minds that she was going to be one of the all-time greats.”
Ellie Mac sprung a 50-1 shock in the Maiden Hurdle at #Leopardstown, a hugely emotional and poignant winner for an Irish syndicate who suffered a tragic loss in the Berkeley balcony collapse pic.twitter.com/IY9QfJnjeL
— RTÉ Sport (@RTEsport) December 26, 2017
Nick’s mum, Graziella, added “Our beloved Niccolai went down in the balcony that day. His favourite sport, apart from football, and the red on the scarves is for Bayern Munich, was horse-racing. He loved the Christmas Festival here, he’d be here every day.”
Tearing up, she said “And what a way to start it off. He was on Daniel’s shoulders.”