Friday 24 November 2017

'Unexposed' Club looks good for Aintree -- Ruby

Walsh: Aintree call 'a tough decision' Photo: PA
Walsh: Aintree call 'a tough decision' Photo: PA

Thomas Kelly

Ruby Walsh claims his decision to ride the Willie Mullins-trained The Midnight Club in Saturday week's Aintree Grand National was not one he took lightly.

Walsh enjoyed Aintree glory on his father Ted's Papillon in 2000 and five years later on Hedgehunter which, like The Midnight Club, was trained by the Irish champion trainer.

This year Walsh had a choice of mounts from the Mullins team, while he could also have ridden one of Paul Nicholls' challengers, but he has sided with the ante-post favourite.

"It was a tough decision. I could have ridden Niche Market, What A Friend, The Midnight Club and Willie had several others and Paul had a few more as well," Walsh said yesterday.

"You can only ride one and I just thought The Midnight Club was the most unexposed in the handicap of all the horses I could ride. He might lack a bit of experience, there's probably plenty of reasons why people won't fancy him.

"It's great to have a ride in the Grand National, and a fancied one at that. I think he's got a good shout, but in the Grand National all you can hope for is to have a shout."

At Taunton yesterday, Walsh rode a short-priced double -- Bold Addition (2/11) and Qozak (2/13) -- for the in-form Nicholls, who went to complete a treble on the card.

The Nicholls-trained What A Friend has arguably the best form for the Aintree showpiece, having finished fourth in the Cheltenham Gold Cup, and the trainer feels quicker conditions are crucial to the gelding's chances.

"The key to him is the weather staying dry and the ground not being too soft. We'll have to see, but if the ground is good I suppose he's got a great chance," said Nicholls.

"He's a brilliant jumper. Horses that struggle with their breathing on soft ground look ungenuine and don't want to know. On better ground, he looked a better horse the other day (in the Gold Cup)."

Daryl Jacob has been booked to ride What A Friend, while Harry Skelton is on Niche Market.

Nicholls has yet to decide on which of his jockeys will ride his two other possibles, Ornais and The Tother One. "I have to finalise it but Ryan Mahon will probably ride one and Nick Scholfield the other," he added.

Noel Glynn's Becauseicouldntsee remains a likely National participant, having made a pleasing recovery from surgery on an injury sustained at Leopardstown over Christmas.

"Becauseicouldntsee is 99pc certain to line up in the Grand National," said Glynn, who owns the horse as well as trains him.

"He is a fantastic jumper and seems to prefer to go left handed, so I am hopeful that he can run well at Aintree. He has a lovely racing weight (10st 8lb) and we are keeping our fingers crossed."

Irish Independent

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