• Mon
  • Sep 15, 2014
  • Updated: 11:17am
SportRacing
BRITAIN

Katie Walsh hopes to be first woman rider to win Grand National

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 03 April, 2013, 3:24pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 04 April, 2013, 4:19am

The world's greatest steeplechase, the Grand National, badly needs a good news story and in Saturday's renewal the Walsh family could well provide it if Katie becomes the first woman rider to win it.

Her father Ted saddles two runners, Seabass and Colbert Station, both of them among the favourites, but it is the former one that will attract the most attention as it is the mount of his daughter Katie.

Should she win she would complete a full house of victories for the family as Ted trained and son Ruby rode Papillon to victory in 2000 - Katie then 16 was the horse's stable girl.

Last year, Katie and Seabass came tantalisingly close, as seemingly full of steam coming round the final bend he ran out of puff and finished a highly creditable third.

This year Seabass is vying for favouritism with the Willie Mullins-trained On His Own, a faller at Becher's Brook second time round last year, which is the likely mount of two-time National-winning brother Ruby.

Katie does not wish to contemplate what will be running through her mind or indeed Ruby's should they be upsides each other jumping the last of the 30 fences on Saturday.

"It could easily be him [Ruby] alongside if we're jumping there at the last. But that's one thing that I really haven't thought about," the 28-year-old said.

Katie Walsh is not one to hide her opinions and has already attracted criticism this week.

For in a year when the race is in the spotlight as never before with regard to equine fatalities - after introducing several reforms following four fatalities in the past two runnings - she didn't hold back in defending people involved in horse racing.

"Anyone who gets up on Christmas Day and mucks out loves animals," she said.

"Sure, it's a dangerous sport. But every night, all over the world, a lot of horses are left out in fields starving.

"These horses are so well looked after. Better than some children, to be honest with you."

Walsh is icily realistic about Saturday's challenge, which will give those who have backed Seabass cause for regret.

"It would be fairy-tale stuff to win and I'd love to be part of it, but you can't go into the race thinking about winning it," she said. "I might go down to the first and hit it and fall, and it's all over.

"I don't think I could have finished any closer last year and, being realistic, he's a year older and he's got eight or 10 more pounds on his back, so he has more weight to carry."

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