Wednesday 13 November 2019

Ruby is 'all business' - Maher

Ruby Walsh
Ruby Walsh

Trainer Ciaron Maher hailed Ruby Walsh "a class act" when reflecting upon Bashboy's historic third victory in the Australian Grand National.

With regular partner Steve Pateman sidelined by suspension, Maher made an ambitious bid to recruit the great Irish jockey, and it paid off as Walsh steered the 12-year-old to National glory at Ballarat racecourse, in Victoria.

Maher reports Bashboy to have taken his exertions well and while there were suggestions the famous victory could be his swansong, the trainer believes there is every chance he could race on.

"The horse has come out of it in great order. He actually pulled out pretty well on the day and he's been fine since," the trainer told Press Association Sport.

"I still can't really believe it, to be honest. It's not a total surprise he won, obviously, but for it all to come together on the day, along with the whole Ruby thing, I'm still pinching myself.

"Ruby is just a class act. He walked the track and had a spin round in one of the hurdle races.

"It came across that he was all business and he was coming here to get it done.

"We knew if he was going to do it we had to back his staying ability.

"He wasn't going to win in a sprint with all that weight and Ruby gave him a great spin and put it to them.

"The horse just made the one blunder at the second-last. People were joking here Ruby did that just to add to the theatre of it!

"I'm going to have lunch with the owner later in the week and we'll have a chat about thing things then, but the horse is as free as a bird and thrives on his work.

"There is a rule over here that you can't race in the Grand National from the age of 13 and upwards, so that would rule him out, but if we could get an exception to that we could look to bring him back.

"He only has four races a year, so he doesn't have a lot of racing, and the National is the only handicap he runs in, so he doesn't have to concede a lot of weight in his other races.

"It will be up to the owner to decide, but there are a couple of races in New Zealand he could run in in September. He could do that if the owner decided this will be his last year.

"If he decided to bring him back next year, he could just go out in the paddock and come back in January as normal."

Maher was keen to gauge Walsh's thoughts on how Bashboy measured up to the great horses he rides in Britain and Ireland and was pleased with what he heard.

"He didn't really compare horses directly, but he did say he and Willie (Mullins) had been planning to bring some horses over here some time and the class of horses they were thinking of bringing over wouldn't be good enough, so that was a nice boost for us," said Maher.

"We're under no illusions that the top-level horses you have in Britain in Ireland.

"The top horses at the Cheltenham Festival, are serious machines and our horses over here probably don't measure up, but it was nice to hear that Ruby felt that they might have to bring higher grade horses over here than they thought.

"Ruby said some of the three-mile races you have over there for horses that are 10 years old and over, over three miles around somewhere like Sandown, would be good for Bashboy."

Maher's weekend triumph with Walsh has further whetted his appetite to have a runner in Britain in the future.

He said: "I would love to bring a horse over there. Australia is importing a lot of stayers now and I recently bought a horse from France called Kapour.

"He showed some good form in France and has won a stakes race in Sydney since he arrived.

"I think he's quite a good horse and I have run him in a hurdle trial as well, which he seemed quite good at, so he could be an option to bring over.

"I don't know if there has ever been an Australian horse run at the Cheltenham Festival. I would have to do my homework on that, but Cheltenham is the pinnacle of jumps racing and if I had one good enough I would love to bring him over.

"I've worked in Britain and Ireland, but I've never been to Cheltenham before. I'd love to get there next year if I can."

PA Media

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