RYAN MANIA returned to his home town Galashiels last night to celebrate his Grand National win with the rest of the day’s heroes, the Gala RFC, Gala Sevens winning rugby squad.
What a day it had been for the Borders town.
Mania’s victory aboard 66-1 chance Auroras Encore in the Aintree marathon was particularly poignant, given that the Galashiels jockey briefly quit the sport two years ago, disheartened by the lack of opportunities.
While the Gala rugby squad had been on a low the previous week after losing out on a Scottish Cup place to neighbours Melrose.
All good things come to those who wait however and the whole of Gala and beyond was cheering last night as the towns sporting mega stars celebrated together.
Of course being brought up in Gala Ryan may have missed out on National glory had his height not hampered his progress with the oval ball. Speaking to Southern Reporter racing correspondent Hilary Mactaggart after his win he said: “I was just too small, I tried, but I wasn’t good enough,”
In 2011, Ryan spent the winter in Fife as a Hunt whipper-in, before returning to race riding.
The day before his Grand National debut, he had tweeted that the horse was “worth a bet” adding that he needed the “luck of the town behind” him.
On Saturday, he confirmed both counts – winning against the odds, and proving the toast of Galashiels and the rest of the Borders.
And of course leaving enough of that luck for his home rugby team to win their own Sevens.
What a day for Gala!
More on this story in Thursday’s Southern Reporter.