It was one thing for Katie Walsh to get the call-up to ride in Saturday's Aintree Grand National, but quite another for her mount Our Monty to scrape into the final field. This the eight-year-old achieved, with nothing to spare, at yesterday's five-day confirmation stage.
When trainer Willie Mullins scratched Scotsirish and the injured Ballytrim, it cleared the way for their stablemate Our Monty to become number 40 in the field, giving Ruby Walsh's younger sister the opportunity to ride in the race for the first time.
Could it be another fairytale in the world-famous steeplechase? Bookmakers are taking no chances, offering 33/1 about Katie landing the prize, while they quote 8/1 about Ruby -- a dual winner aboard Papillon and Hedgehunter -- winning it on the Mullins-trained The Midnight Club.
Katie (26) has ridden over the big Aintree fences only twice. Yesterday, she recalled: "I only got to the first on Pomme Tiepy in the Topham last year, and then to the fifth on Battlefront in the Grand Sefton, in November."
Despite his relative inexperience over fences, Our Monty showed enough to land the Cork National in November 2009, although that was the last time he was seen on the race track.
A total of 65 stood their ground at yesterday's deadline. JP McManus decided against Synchronised taking his chance, but the owner will have another five to carry his green and gold colours, including last year's winner and topweight Don't Push It. Former Welsh National winner Notre Pere was another to drop by the wayside, as was Frankie Figg, which will run instead in the Topham Chase.
The latest riding engagements see Andrew Lynch on the Dessie Hughes-trained Vic Venturi, while Davy Russell is expected to be back from injury to partner Becauseicouldntsee and fellow Corkman Aidan Coleman will ride Grand Slam Hero for Nigel Twiston-Davies. Robbie Power will be on Killyglen.
Peddlers Cross and Binocular feature among the 13 entries for Saturday's John Smith's Hurdle at the Liverpool venue. Binocular is one of three entries for trainer Nicky Henderson, who also has Oscar Whisky and Zaynar in the race. (© Daily Telegraph, London)