GRAND National winner Ryan Mania was released from hospital yesterday and returned to a hero’s welcome in his hometown with a victory parade.
Around 3,000 residents of Galashiels, in the Borders, turned out in force as the 23-year-old jockey returned home after winning Saturday’s race on 66-1 shot Auroras Encore.
His mother, Lesley, greeted him before he set off on the tour and said she was “the proudest mum on the planet”.
She added: “It’s a great turnout, and it’s great to see the town behind him. Lots of people put bets on him, so maybe they want to say thanks or get him a drink.
“I was at the race and it was just unbelievable, but to see him fall the next day was a real worry. But he’s fine as far as we know and he’s happy as Larry.Ryan just gets up and gets on with it.”
Mania had spent the previous two nights in Newcastle’s Victoria Hospital after a fall at Hexham on Sunday – 24 hours after his victory at Aintree. An MRI scan on his back and neck revealed only minor injuries and he was allowed home to Galashiels yesterday, where the homecoming parade had been organised.
Led by the Gala-shiels Ex-Servicemen’s Pipe Band, Mania stood in the back of a Nissan Nivara as it travelled down a packed Bank Street and Channel Street before ending at the town’s fountain, where he addressed the crowd from a specially-constructed stage.
He said: “It is mad. Everyone being out here on the streets tonight is very heart-warming. The reception I have received is overwhelming. It brings it all home, what I have achieved, when they turn out in such huge numbers.
“I am Gala born and bred, and it is such a small town, it is great to put it on the map.”
Despite his injuries, Mania could be back in the saddle as early as this weekend, ahead of the Scottish Grand National on 20 April. He said: “I am a bit tired and sore, but I am OK. It is early days about the National, I will just have to wait and see.
“The past few days have been a bit of a whirlwind, but I just want to enjoy this and savour the moment. It is great for the town and the Borders.”
With an early start planned for a round of interviews, Mania said he was unsure whether he would be celebrating too much, although a reception was planned in local restaurant Quins, run by racing enthusiast Sylvia Scott, where he was to join his family including his pregnant girlfriend, Edwina Stacy-Marks, 30.
Mania’s agent, Bruce Jeffrey, said yesterday: “Ryan had his MRI scan this morning. The scan has shown up a very small fracture in his C7 vertebra and there is also some soft tissue and ligament damage.
“But Ryan feels fine in himself and he just can’t wait to get back riding again.”
Most of Galashiels has been celebrating since Saturday after backing Mania – the first Scot to win the Grand National since 1896. The local branch of William Hill ran out of money as it took a hit of about £50,000, while the two Ladbrokes outlets also lost out to Mania backers.
One punter backed Auroras Encore with £25 each way, to have a return of more than £2,000