Belfast Telegraph

Monday 28 July 2014

Walsh confirmed for Midnight ride

Ruby Walsh

Ruby Walsh has been confirmed as the rider of ante-post favourite The Midnight Club in the John Smith's Grand National at Aintree on April 9.

The champion jockey, who won the Liverpool spectacular on Papillon in 2000 and Hedgehunter in 2005, has opted for the Willie Mullins-trained 10-year-old ahead of his other possible mounts.

Chief among them was Niche Market, for whom British champion trainer Paul Nicholls has moved to book Harry Skelton.

Speaking from France, a delighted Mullins said: "I think that's what is happening and it's good news.

"The Midnight Club is in good form. He worked twice during the week and we're very pleased with him. Everything I have that is in the race at the moment is going, if they get in."

The County Carlow handler still has something of a headache for the big race as two of his regular riders, Paul Townend and Emmet Mullins, are currently injured, with the former certain to be out.

That means Mullins has to work out plans for his other runners in the four-and-a-half-mile marathon, including Dooneys Gate, Scotsirish, Ballytrim, Arbor Supreme and Our Monty. "I hope to sort out the jockeys for all my horses when I get home," he added.

Nicholls announced Skelton's booking on Twitter for the former Bob Buckler-trained Niche Market, winner of the Irish National in 2009 and pulled up at the 27th fence at Aintree last year.

"Harry Skelton rides Niche Market in the Grand National. Let's hope we get same result as in the Irish version. Niche Market is in great order," said the Ditcheat trainer.

Skelton enjoyed his biggest moment yet in the saddle when steering Niche Market to glory at Fairyhouse, while he kept the ride at Aintree 12 months ago.

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