Monday 16 December 2019

Walsh - choosing fella was big decision

Ruby Walsh. Photo: Getty Images
Ruby Walsh. Photo: Getty Images

Ruby Walsh admits the decision to side with Big Fella Thanks in the John Smith's Grand National on Saturday week is not one he has taken lightly.

Ireland's champion jockey has won the famous Aintree prize twice in his career to date, firstly partnering Papillon to glory in 2000 for his father Ted, before scoring on Willie Mullins' Hedgehunter five years later.

This season he has had a wealth of talent from both Mullins' yard and the Paul Nicholls string to chose from and after much deliberation, he has decided to ride last year's sixth Big Fella Thanks.

"He's an improved horse to what he was last year," said Walsh.

"He was only a novice and he was sixth last year and if he hadn't run in the race last year I'd fancy him even more as some horses go back and don't take to it at all and that's the one question I'd have - will he take to it a second time?

"This year he's been good, he was impressive when he beat Pasco at Newbury when he showed a bit of pace over two-and-a-half miles and we know he stays."

Walsh could also have ridden the likes of Snowy Morning, who has completed the course in the last two renewals, or Tricky Trickster, who was bought by the Nicholls team with the race in mind.

"Snowy Morning has run in the race twice, Arbor Supreme ran a cracking race the last day over two-five, but he might be just wanting better ground and the way the weather forecast is I thought it might not suit him.

"Tricky Trickster was a bit disappointing in the Gold Cup and you have to go on the form that is in front of you, if you went strictly on Aon form you'd ride Tricky Trickster but he was disappointing in the Gold Cup so I've gone for Big Fella Thanks.

"Nobody will know who is right until after the race but I can only ride one," he told At The Races.

Nick Mitchell believes Ellerslie George has shaken off his disappointing last outing at Newbury as the Grand National approaches.

The winner of the Badger Ales Trophy at Wincanton in November did not look anywhere near the same standard when last of seven finishers in a veterans' chase in early March.

"He came back after Newbury and his blood was all wrong. He was blowing hard as well," said the Dorset trainer.

"But he has scoped as clean as a whistle since and hasn't missed a day's work so he seems fine now and is still on course for the National.

"I'm still waiting on a jockey, so hopefully we will get that sorted out soon."

PA Media

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