Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 3 September 2014

Walsh hopes to strike equality blow

Grand National jockey Katie Walsh finished third in last year's race

Sport fans are waiting to see if the Grand National, the world's most famous steeplechase, will get its first female winning jockey.

Amateur rider Katie Walsh, 28, is joining forces once again with mount Seabass whom she rode to third place in last year's race. It made her the most successful female Grand National jockey to date.

She lines up alongside brother Ruby, a double Grand National winner. In Seabass and On His Own, they are riding two of this year's most-fancied horses.

In 2012, she became the 15th female jockey to ride in the Grand National since Charlotte Brew made history on Barony Fort in 1977. Seabass's third place is the best finishing position.

Success would catapult her to sports superstardom not only across Britain and her native Ireland, but all around the globe. She has extensive riding experience including two winners at the Cheltenham Festival.

Women's Sport and Fitness Foundation chief executive Sue Tibballs said: "This is an incredibly exciting time in the Grand National's long history. Katie Walsh being on the brink of being the first woman to win the National represents a pivotal moment in the sport.

"It is important to recognise that women can compete on equal terms with men in this event, and that their achievements as top athletes are recognised.

"Having a female athlete come top in such a prestigious and well-loved race will be a breakthrough moment for women in sport."

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