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Katie's primed to make history

The Evening Herald's Katie Walsh will today bid to become the first ever female jockey to win the Aintree Grand National and looks to have a strong claim to do so as she teams up with Seabass, who is trained by her father and previous race winner Ted Walsh.

The Walsh family enjoyed success in the world's most famous horse race with Papillon back in 2000 when he pulled off a massive gamble to win in the hands of Katie's brother, Ruby.

Ruby again had the choice to ride Seabass having won a few on him already and his most recent start at Naas when they were victorious over two miles, but Walsh stayed loyal to Willie Mullins and will ride On His Own in the 4m4f marathon.

The fact that Seabass was able to win over two miles and make all to win a Leopardstown Chase over 2m5f, is a big advantage looking ahead to tomorrow's race.

Looking back over his form and Seabass was third in a handicap chase on heavy ground over three miles and did win a point to point back in 2007 as a four-year-old and his return to action this season began in a point to point over three miles in November.


Speaking to the Herald regarding his chances of seeing out the trip, Katie, who has won twice on Seabass this season, said: "I can't say for definite that he will get four-and-a-half miles, but that is the case for a lot of other horses in the race. I was delighted not to see him win too easily over two miles when he beat Zaarito as it looked like he needed further.

"If he had won over two miles without even coming off the bridle you would be thinking that the Grand National trip would be too far for him.

"But in Naas he was clearly going as fast as he wanted to be going everywhere in the race and he was still able to pull it out of the bag to win it."

The 27-year-old amateur added: "It was a good, battling performance to win over two miles at Naas. He has won over two-and-a-half this season and he started off his winning run in a point-to-point over three miles back in November, so look I don't know if he'll get four-and-a-half, but nobody knows."

This year's renewal of the race has plenty of class in it, with Synchronised lining up following his Cheltenham Gold Cup victory just last month and he is likely to go off a very short-priced favourite as he sets out to become the first horse since Golden Miller almost eight decades ago to win both the Gold Cup and Grand National in the one year.

His price, which will undoubtedly be shortened due to the 'Tony McCoy factor', is going to be poor value for the type of race the Grand National is, but it will be interesting to see if he can give the weight all around and record a famous victory, although no horse since Red Rum in 1974 has carried 11st10lbs or more to win the race.


Ruby Walsh's mount, On His Own, would hold a strong chance, especially if there was a deluge of rain prior to the race. He couldn't have been any more emphatic when winning the Thyestes Chase and must hold strong claims for two men that know what it takes to win this race, Ruby Walsh and Willie Mullins.

Mon Mome joins Ballabriggs as a former winner trying to do a Red Rum on it and win it back, while Nina Carberry joins her sister-in-law Katie Walsh in bidding to become the first ever lady rider to win the race. It is an 11/1 shot with Paddy Power for either of them to do it.

There is a very strong Irish contingent contesting this year's National and many of them have serious chances, including Tom Taaffe's Treacle. Shark Hanlon's Alfa Beat wouldn't be without a squeak either, but this is a race where almost anything can happen, and so often it does, so feel free to pick out a couple of bets, as you more than likely could need a second lifeline in such a lottery.