Tuesday 25 October 2016

Track Talk: Katie Walsh proves that she has the ability to be ranked as a great

Katie Walsh
Katie Walsh

We're quite lucky in this country that, for a small island, we have had some quite memorable sporting occasions and produced globally renowned individuals - Easter Monday was further proof of that.

Katie Walsh has already achieved more in her amateur career than the majority of professionals and the Irish Grand National that was added to her CV to go with her two Cheltenham Festival winners (one of which came in a professional race), the Grade Two Prix La Barka at Auteuil, the Kerry National at Listowel, and, of course, Seabass finishing third in the Aintree Grand National, all of which were against professionals.

Katie doesn't see herself as any different just because she is a female, and that's probably part of the mentality that has made her so successful.

But as her brother Ruby said on Monday, Katie and Nina are competing at this sort of level with no allowance and still winning.

Katie Taylor, Stephanie Roche, the women's international rugby team, Olive Loughnane, Derval O'Rourke ... the list goes on. In Katie Walsh, I think we do have someone who is a cut above again. To be contesting in such a male-dominated sport, that is so dangerous, and to have the list of big race winners she possesses, speaks volumes.

And Walsh's natural touch with a horse goes much further than what we see on the racecourse. Just last week she topped the Breeze-Up Sales at Ascot with a two-year-old she had bought the year before. She clearly just has a gift.

Probably the only real disappointment about the weekend was the fact that we had just 28 runners in the Irish National.

The race was the first 30-runner field in Ireland to have reserves but in the interest of punting the cut-off was Sunday morning rather than an hour before the first race on Monday.

It was progress but still a pity how it fared out but in fairness to racecourse manager Peter Roe, he did tell The Herald the situation will be looked at for next year.

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