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Ruby to wait on Seabass call

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Ruby Walsh. Photo: Sportsfile

Ruby Walsh. Photo: Sportsfile

Ruby Walsh. Photo: Sportsfile

Ted Walsh admits it could be late next week before he knows who will ride his English Grand National hope Seabass.

The nine-year-old has won his last seven starts and bids to give his trainer a second National success after Papillon struck in the hands of his son, Ruby, in 2000.

The leading jockey, who also guided Hedgehunter to Aintree glory in 2005, has a tough call to make this year in deciding whether to ride Seabass or one of champion trainer Willie Mullins' team.

It looked odds-on he would ride the Mullins-trained Prince De Beauchene until he was ruled out of the race at the weekend due to injury, but Ted Walsh believes it was not a foregone conclusion which horse his son would have ridden.

If Walsh Jnr does decide to ride for Mullins, or there is an outside chance he could ride Paul Nicholls' Neptune Collonges, sister Katie is waiting in the wings to ride Seabass, having guided him to two victories already this season.

"Everything is okay with him at the minute anyway and he's on course for Aintree," said Walsh Snr.

"He'll be taken out of the Irish National later this week as Liverpool is definitely the plan and I'm happy with the horse at this stage.

"We'll have to wait and see who rides him. I'm waiting to see what Ruby wants to do and we'll go from there.

"I don't know why everyone assumed he would be riding the horse that was favourite (Prince De Beauchene), he might have wanted to ride Willie's other horse that won the Thyestes Chase (On His Own).

"He has plenty of options and I won't be doing anything until he lets me know which way he wants to go."

Frank Berry expects last month's Kim Muir winner, Sunnyhillboy, to line up and a decision on whether Cheltenham Gold Cup-winning stablemate Synchronised will run is expected to be made by this weekend.

Berry, racing manager to owner JP McManus, said: "As far as I know Sunnyhillboy is in good form and on target to run at Aintree. Jonjo (O'Neill) is very happy with him, as he is with Synchronised, which seems to have come out of the Gold Cup well."

Gordon Elliott believes the early stages of the National will be crucial for Chicago Grey.

Well-backed in recent days, the 2011 Cheltenham Festival winner has been prepared with one race in mind all season though Elliott is worried that he could get too far behind too early.

"He schooled last week, schooled very well and stays well, he won the four-miler at Cheltenham last year," said the Co Meath handler. "He's done everything we've wanted him to do this year, Paul Carberry is going to ride him.

"If he can get into a nice rhythm in the first half of the race I think he'll run a massive race. The first four or five fences are going to be very important, if he can get into a rhythm and get jumping. He's probably not the best jumper in the world, he's adequate, he has his own technique. I just hope he doesn't get detached early."

Nicholls is down to just one representative after the retirement of Niche Market due to injury, and expects Neptune Collonges to take his place with Daryl Jacob aboard.

Meanwhile, Walsh Jnr has a strong book of rides at Thurles today and the consistent Lord Gale is napped to give him and Mullins another winner in the staying maiden hurdle.

The Kildare rider also has decent prospects of capturing the Clonoulty Handicap Hurdle with Dan Rohan's Castlerock Rose, while Michael Hourigan -- fresh from a double at Limerick last Sunday -- might thwart Walsh's mount Shifa with the hitherto disappointing Awkward Moment in the Cashel Beginners' Chase.

Irish Independent