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Baie Des Iles form will help in Grand challenge, says Walsh

 

By Martin Kelly

Katie Walsh is looking forward to having another crack at Randox Health Grand National glory aboard outsider Baie Des Iles.

It is six years since Walsh steered Seabass to finish third in the Aintree spectacular for her father, Ted, which remains the highest-placed finish for any female jockey in the history of the race. Trained by the leading amateur rider's husband, Ross O'Sullivan, grey mare Baie Des Iles was last seen finishing third when bidding for back-to-back victories in a Grand National trial at Punchestown in February.

She is a best-priced 66-1 to claim a historic victory on Merseyside.

Walsh said: "Ross was delighted with her run in Punchestown. She had a lot of weight in very heavy ground and ran a cracker.

"It was a lovely run and I wasn't over-hard on her. She comes here off the back of that.

"It's still a month away, so a lot can happen between here and then, but fingers crossed."

While many trainers will be giving their National hopes a sighter over custom-built Aintree fences between now and April 14, Baie Des Iles, who has been handed a weight of 10st 7lb, is likely to tackle the obstacles for the first time during the race itself.

Jonjo O'Neill feels Minella Rocco has all the attributes to make his mark after he was left at the head of the weights following the second forfeit stage.

Runner-up to Sizing John in last season's Cheltenham Gold Cup, the JP McManus-owned gelding was in line for another crack at the blue riband before being declared a non-runner on account of the testing conditions.

He will carry the welter burden of 11st 10lb after the original top weight Definitly Red, Irish Gold Cup hero Edwulf and Outlander were all scratched.

Speaking from Aintree at a Grand National northern media lunch, O'Neill said: "The ground got very heavy (at Cheltenham) and, as we all know, he's got a wind problem and that ground wouldn't help him, so we saved him for here.

"So long as we get good ground, we've a good chance.

"He's won over four miles, so he just has to get another half a mile. Top weight isn't ideal, but that's the way it is and he's a big horse, so hopefully he can carry it.

"He jumps well and keeps galloping, so the National was always at the back of my mind."

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