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'This is the greatest day of our lives since the tragedy in Berkeley'

It was an emotional day at Leopardstown, as Ellie Mac – a horse owned by the Niccolai Schuster Horse Racing Club – triumphed against the odds

Updated at 15.03

IT WAS AN emotional day at Leopardstown, as Ellie Mac (50/1) pulled off a surprise triumph in the Horse and Jockey Hotel Maiden Hurdle during Day 1 of the festival.

The horse is owned by a horse racing club established in memory of the late Niccolai Schuster, who was one of six Irish students that lost their lives in the Berkeley balcony tragedy on 16 June, 2015.

“This is the greatest day of our lives since the tragedy in Berkeley,” John Schuster, father of Niccolai, told RTÉ Sport.

My son was a great racing fan and we decided at a party to put a racing club together – there was no shortage of neighbours, friends and we had support from all over the world.”

Daniel Holden onboard Ellie Mac celebrates winning Daniel Holden onboard Ellie Mac celebrates winning the Horse & Jockey Hotel Maiden Hurdle at the 2017 Leopardstown Christmas Festival. Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

Niccolai’s mother Graziella added: “Our beloved Niccolai went down on the balcony that day in Berkeley — his favourite sport apart from football was horseracing. He loved the Christmas festival here and what a way to start — he was on Daniel’s shoulders.”

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Paul Fennessy

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