A SHORT HEAD has often been described as "the width of a betting slip" and it was this margin which denied Ruby Walsh what would have been an astonishing achievement in the 2004/05 season.
Back then, Walsh won three of the four Nationals: the Irish aboard Numbersixvalverde, the Welsh on Silver Birch (both subsequent Aintree National winners) and the English on Hedgehunter. However, poor old Cornish Rebel was beaten a short head by Joe's Edge in the Scottish race.
Today is new ground for Walsh, who rides in the $350,000 US National at Fair Hills in New Jersey. While he has visited the track before, it's his first ride in the race.
"I'll be on Rawnaq for Cyril Murphy," he said. "He beat Willie Mullins' two horses in Tennessee, Shaneshill and Nichols Canyon, last May.
"Jack Doyle would have ridden him but got hurt in Belmont lately, breaking his pelvis. I was asked to step in.
"It's a more valuable race than any jumps race in Europe this weekend. I'm looking forward to it. He'll be favourite and he has a good chance.
"I'll be back home in time to ride in Cork on Sunday."