Friday 24 November 2017

Katie Walsh: Here's hoping we can keep good National record

Champagne James
Champagne James

Monday is obviously a big day in Irish racing as it's Irish Grand National day and with AP McCoy over to have his final rides in Ireland, there is sure to be even more hype surrounding the three-days.

The Irish Grand National is a race that has been very good to us in the past and with Champagne James set to run on Monday, I hope it's a race that will continue to be very good to us.

Of course, Commanche Court won the race for Dad in 2000, which was the same year as Papillon won the English National and Papillon himself ran a cracker in the Irish National in 1998 when he was second to Bobbyjo.

Jack High was also second in it when Ruby just got up to beat him on Numbersixvalverde for Martin Brassil so it's certainly a race we have plenty of fond memories of.

Champagne James has appeared to come out of his run at Cheltenham very well and while Cheltenham is Cheltenham and is the biggest meeting of the year, you have to be a very sharp-acting horse to go around there and I'd say Champagne James just wants more of a galloping track which he'll certainly get on Monday.

I don't think we are due much rain over the weekend but there is heavy in the description at the moment and the 3m5f is going to take a lot of getting. I'd be hopeful that the trip and the ground will suit Champagne James.


It certainly is a wide open renewal and anyone involved in the race can look forward to a very competitive event. You can make cases for so many. One thing I would question on Monday though is whether a horse will be able to buck out and be handy on that ground and over the trip. If something does he'll be a very good horse.

In the last number of years, the Irish National has been a happy hunting ground for novices and the likes of The Job is Right, Dogora, Perfect Gentleman and Champagne James are just a few that come under that banner.

So if I was having a bet in the race and was unsure of what to back, I'd be siding with a novice who will handle the ground.

I won't be in Fairyhouse on Easter Monday as I'm going to Cork instead to ride Call It Magic for Ross and I wouldn't like to be the person standing beside me if Champagne James is jumping the last in contention!

Call It Magic is a lovely horse who has done well since winning his point-to-point and a bumper wasn't the first choice with him but it seemed pointless to break his novice status so late in the year so hopefully he can repeat what he did in his point-to-point and get the job done on Monday.

I'll be in Fairyhouse on Sunday to ride in the bumper and after Cork on Monday all road will be leading to Aintree.

I think the track will suit him better than Cheltenham.

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