If you ever visit the town of Mountbellew in Galway, you will notice a striking bronze statue of a horse in the square. The horse is Bobbyjo, one of the most famous and successful racehorses in Irish history.

Bobbyjo was born in 1990 at Mullaghmore, near Moylough, where he was owned and reared by Bobby and Josephine Burke. He was named after his owners, who also bred his sire, Bustineto, and his dam, Markup. Bobbyjo showed great promise from an early age, winning his first race as a four-year-old at Navan in 1994. He went on to win 14 races in total, including the Irish Grand National at Fairyhouse in 1998, becoming the first Irish-trained winner of that race since 1955.

But his crowning glory came on April 10th, 1999, when he lined up for the Grand National at Aintree. He was trained by Tommy Carberry, a former Grand National winner himself on L’Escargot in 1975, and ridden by his son Paul, who was only 24 years old at the time. Bobbyjo started as a 10-1 joint favourite, along with Addington Boy and Earth Summit, and faced a field of 32 runners over a distance of four and a half miles and 30 fences.

Bobbyjo ran a superb race, jumping well and staying close to the leaders throughout. He took the lead at the second-last fence and never looked back, holding off a challenge from Blue Charm to win by 10 lengths. He became the first Irish-trained winner of the Grand National since L’Escargot in 1975, and only the third ever after Early Mist in 1953. He also gave Paul Carberry his first Grand National win, and made him and his father Tommy the first father-son combination to win the race as jockeys.

Bobbyjo’s victory was greeted with jubilation by his connections and fans, who celebrated his achievement as a triumph for Irish racing. He returned to Ireland as a national hero, and was honoured with a civic reception in Mountbellew, where he paraded through the streets with Paul Carberry on his back. He also received a special award from the Irish Turf Club for his outstanding contribution to Irish racing.

Bobbyjo continued to race until 2001, when he suffered a fatal injury at Fairyhouse. He broke his knee during the Hennessy Gold Cup and had to be put down one month later due to his incurable condition. He was buried at Mullaghmore, where he was born and raised.

In 2002, as part of the Millennium celebrations, a life-sized bronze statue of Bobbyjo was unveiled in Mountbellew. The statue is the work of Galway-born sculptor John Coll, who captured Bobbyjo’s likeness and spirit in exquisite detail. The statue commemorates Bobbyjo’s life and achievements, and pays tribute to his owners, trainers, jockeys and supporters. It also serves as a reminder of the rich heritage and history of horse racing in Galway and Ireland.


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Bobbyjo Statue



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