herald

Saturday 10 December 2016

Katie Walsh: Nina could give us more to celebrate

First Lieutenant
First Lieutenant

To be totally honest, Monday's Irish Grand National win is only really sinking in about now and it's certainly been a week to remember but I could probably do with a new Sky box because I've nearly worn out watching the replay!

It was a marvellous day and it's still hard to think that I have won an Irish National but it was just a savage day and one I won't be forgetting.

I travelled over to Aintree last night and, unfortunately, I won't be riding in the big one tomorrow but I suppose I really knew my faith on that count a couple of weeks ago.

There was a couple of horses I possibly could have rode further down the field but they didn't get into the race and, in fact, nothing outside of the top 40 got in at declarations yesterday morning which is a bit unusual but when connections come this far, they intend on running, barring something happening, so it wasn't that much of a surprise really.

Every time I go back to Aintree it's full of great memories for me and you'd love to be riding Seabass every year in the race!

The hype and the vibe surrounding the race and the meeting as a whole is fantastic but it's a race that has been very good to me with Seabass, and Papillon before that, so you look forward to returning every year.

Looking ahead to the race tomorrow and while most people will be shouting for AP McCoy - and what a fairytale ending it would be for him - I will be shouting for Ruby and Nina.

Ruby rides Ballycasey for Willie Mullins and Nina will be looking to give Gigginstown a quick Grand National double and, to be honest, I think she has a real good chance of running a big race.

Nina couldn't have warmed up for the task much better when winning the Foxhunters on On The Fringe over the National fences yesterday and what a fantastic ride she gave him, and I think First Lieutenant has the credentials to do something similar.

Mouse had three runners in the Irish National the other day and both of them came to the second last with every chance and finished second and fourth and his horses are really coming into form at the right time.

First Lieutenant is a classy horse who is a Grade One winner on his day, and if the Aintree fences liven him up, I think he could be bang in there ... and these fences can have that effect on a horse.

Going to Aintree really turned Papillon inside out and I think First Lieutenant could be similar. The horses haven't generally seen anything like the fences before so they love jumping them and can't wait for the next one. If he takes to it, he could be a different buck altogether to what we've seen recently.

And if I was given a free bet in the race, I'd be backing him each-way without a doubt.

I suppose the same could be said about Ballycasey. He's another that needs to revive his old form, and maybe the fences will do that. He's not a bad animal and is a very good jumper.

If he gets into a rhythm, you never know and the way Ruby will probably ride him he should have every chance of staying the trip.

There'll obviously be huge support for AP on his last ride in the race and what a way for him to sign off his career if he could win it, but the chances are so slim that he can bow out like that.

He's been champion jockey 20 times and done so much for the sport but look how long it took to win his first so trying to go out by winning it on your last ride will be a very hard thing to do. However, you just never know what's going to happen in the race and that's what makes it so magical.

Thankfully, Arctic Fire and Ruby were both okay after yesterday's horrible fall in the Aintree Hurdle. Ruby had a bit of a dead leg but will be fine to ride today and the horse got up and walked away but it was a huge shame as he deserved to win a race like that after the season he has had.

Katie's Choice

Aintree Grand National

1. Rocky Creek

2. Cause Of Causes

3. First Lieutenant

4. The Druids Nephew

5. Corrin Wood

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