Few will get the chance to test the truth of Mick Fitzgerald's description of how winning the Grand National feels. He triumphed in 1996 on Rough Quest, and tells the story of his rise to grasp jump racing's most coveted prize well, his memoirs shot through with a dry wit. But there was nothing humorous about his fall in the same race this year.
As Fitzgerald lay at the second fence with his neck broken, the eventual winner, Timmy Murphy on Comply Or Die, jumped past him. The end of his Irish compatriot's riding career marked the renaissance of Murphy's, as he explains in his own updated memoir, 'Riding the Storm' (Highdown, £7.99). His early years had in many ways mirrored Fitzgerald's – a poor country upbringing, early local success, a move to England. But along the way Murphy developed a galloping drink habit, which culminated in a six-month jail sentence in 2002 after he ran amok on a plane. He writes: "I don't regret going to prison," because it was the catalyst which caused him to turn his life around. Despite hitting rock-bottom in different ways, both men take an optimistic view of the future. Fitzgerald has recovered, Murphy rides on; winners both.
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