Grand National and Cheltenham Gold Cup-winning owner Michael O'Leary has said demands on his time was the main driver in winding down his racing operation.
O'Leary shocked the 'Sport of Kings' back in May when he announced he was to phase out his interest in National Hunt horses over five years, by not buying any new stock. He sold 31 horses earlier this month in what is a sign of things to come.
The Ryanair CEO was crowned Irish champion owner for a seventh time earlier this year. His familiar maroon and white colours have appeared in the winner's enclosure at Cheltenham 27 times. His Gold Cup successes came with 'War of Attrition' in 2006 and 'Don Cossack' a decade later.
O'Leary has won the Aintree Grand National on three occasions, first with 'Rule the World' in 2016, followed by the back to back successes of 'Tiger Roll' in 2018 and 2019. The Gordon Elliott-trained 'Tiger Roll' will attempt to become the first horse since 'Red Rum' in 1977 to win a hat-trick of Grand Nationals next year.
O'Leary told a Reuters Newsmakers event in London that it was time to put family first:
"The thought process was for the next five years I need fewer and fewer distractions. I now have four children between the ages of nine and 14.
I am incredibly busy on the weekends, taking them to their various activities, collecting them from school, dropping them back, all that kind of stuff. Something has to get eliminated, so it's either you eliminate the children, you eliminate the airline or you eliminate the racehorses."
"It seemed to me that the racehorses were the least worst option!"
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