William McCarthy lands the Grand National aboard St Arnicco

Image: Bruno Cannatelli

William McCarthy has only been a regular guide in Australian forms for just over a year, but he has already built a feature-racing CV that would be the envy of many jumps jockeys with decades of experience.

The Irishman won a thrilling edition of the $350,000 Grand National Steeplechase (4500m) aboard the Paul Preusker-trained St Arnicco at Ballarat on Sunday.

The 39-year-old has won two of the biggest jumps races on the Australian calendar this year, winning the Grand Annual Steeplechase aboard the Ciaron Maher and David Eustace-trained Heberite in May.

Although originally from Ireland, he came to Australia from America and his success Down Under softened the blow of what he was forced to leave behind.

“I’ve been watching my horse Snap Decision, he’s a great jumper in the US, he won a Grade 1 a few weeks ago and it’s with a heavy heart that I leave the US and leave a horse like him behind, but every cloud has a silver lining. lining,” McCarthy said.

“Coming here to Australia was the absolute highlight of my career.

“I’ve had the opportunity to ride some fantastic horses and take home some big feature races and I’ve just been blessed with this opportunity.

McCarthy produced a centimeter perfect ride to take St Arnicco home on his steeplechase debut.

After settling just off the pace set by The Cossack, St Arnicca was left to chase Flying Agent after The Cossack looked seemingly defeated when overtaken in the final 1600m.

St Arnicca moved alongside Flying Agent about 450m from home and held off the $2.90 favorite in the stretch, but was then forced out to another challenge from the resurgent The Cossack.

The Kiwi visitor looked set to be at St Arnicca at 100m only for the six-year-old son of Canford Cliffs to rally and hold on for a narrow victory over The Cossack ($6) with Flying Agent three-quarters-and-a-length away in third.

It was the sixth win from 31 starts for St Arnicco, who had his first start for Terry and Karina O’Sullivan and has worn Roll The Dice Racing colors throughout his career.

“It’s a good bunch of owners, a good race to check off and thanks to the team at home and everyone involved,” Preusker said.

It was Preusker’s second Grand National Steeplechase success with a lightly raced fencer for Preusker, who won the 2021 edition with Inaforhay, who like St Arnicca was making his first steeplechase start after finishing second in the Grand National Hurdle.

The Grand National Steeplechase was part of the program over all jumps, including the $125,000 JJ Houlahan Hurdle (3250m), won by the Steven Pateman-trained and ridden Bell Ex One.

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