He won the world’s greatest steeplechase on Saturday and had what could have been a career-ending accident on Sunday, writes Fiona Scott.
But on Tuesday, hundreds of well-wishers turned out on the streets of Ryan Mania’s native Galashiels to give the 2013 Grand National-winning jockey a hero’s welcome.
Ryan told The Southern: “I don’t think there would be many other jockeys on that Grand National winners list who would come home to a welcome like I did this week.
“The Borders is just different, everything seems to mean so much more to the people here.
“It’s really special and I consider myself really lucky to be part of that kind of community.”
Family (girlfriend Eddy –who is due to have the couple’s first child in September – mum Lesley, dad Kevin and sister Zoe) friends, neighbours, and even his farrier, joined the throng of people who crowded into the town centre.
Not to mention the many lucky punters who had placed a bet on the 66/1 Auroras Encore.
Galashiels grandfather David Millar had plenty of reasons to cheer as he had decided on the spur of the moment to put £5 each way at odds of 80-1 on the local hero.
“I never bet, I haven’t bet for years,” said David who watched the race with his family.
“We didn’t know what Ryan’s colours were, though,” he added. “It was just unbelievable. And it’s a great turnout tonight.”
Standing in the back of a black 4x4, the 23-year-old was piped down Bank Street and along Channel Street by the Galashiels Ex-Service Pipe Band.
At the time of going to press, Ryan was still waiting to hear whether or not he had the go-ahead to get back into the saddle this weekend, but, if not, will take a few days’ holiday with Eddy.
He admitted that since Saturday’s race, “everything has been a bit crazy”, but also said he wouldn’t have it any other way. “As a jockey you have to make the best out of every situation as you get more bad times than good,” he added.
“You get slagged off more than you get praised and have more fallers than you have winners. At the moment I am just trying to enjoy the whole thing, which isn’t easy because there is so much going on.”
There’s more about Ryan’s week on pages 80 and 81.