herald

Sunday 11 December 2016

Ruby Walsh set to cause big stir Down Under as he rides in the Australian Grand National

Ruby Walsh
Ruby Walsh

Ireland’s leading jump jockey Ruby Walsh is set to leave Kilbeggan and Downpatrick behind this weekend in favour of his first visit to Ballarat Racecourse to ride in the Australian Grand National.

Walsh has been booked to ride two-time Grand National winner Bashboy in the race after the 12-year-old’s trainer Ciaron Maher made the bold move to secure the services of Willie Mullins’ number one rider after Bashboy’s regular partner Steve Pateman failed in his attempt to get a suspension over-ruled.

Bashboy is looking to become the first horse to win the race on three occasions and the extended two-mile-six-furlong contest is worth just short of €170,000.

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Maher said: “It’s heartbreaking for Steve but Ruby is probably the best in the business so to get him down here is great for Australian racing, and particularly for jumps racing.”

“His feats at the Cheltenham Festival this year were amazing and he’s just an outstanding rider who is at the top of his game, so I’m rapt to be able to get him.

“It would be great to get his opinion on the horse because obviously he rides the best of the best over there and it would be interesting to see his opinion on not only the horse but our racing.”

Despite his disappointment, Pateman also took to Twitter to say: “Great for jump Aus racing to have Ruby Walsh ride one of our best steeplechasers of all time in our biggest steeplechase.”

Such is the significance of Walsh going to Ballarat on their biggest day, the racecourse look set to offer free entry to mark the occasion. Ballarat Turf Club tweeted: “How good is Ruby Walsh?

“Should we throw out gates open and let everyone find out?”

Walsh looks set to have two rides on the card with Robert Smerdon booking him to ride Arch Fire in the JJ Houlahan Hurdle also.

Meanwhile, Walsh’s good friend and former weighroom colleague AP McCoy is set to make his return to the saddle at Doncaster next month after being confirmed, alongside Johnny Murtagh, for the Legends Race on St Leger weekend.

The Clipper Logistics Leger Legends Classified Stakes will take place at 3.35pm on Wednesday Septemeber 9 over a mile and will feature 16 former jockeys.

Trainer Nicky Henderson has confirmed that he won’t be appointing a stable jockey for his Seven Barrows horses this season and instead will use his current group of riders when available.

Barry Geraghty will continue to ride the JP McManus horses for Henderson and possibly some others with Nico de Boinville, Andrew Tinkler and David Bass splitting the majority of rides.

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