Ruby Walsh to clash with sister Katie in Grand National
Katie Walsh will have her first ride in the Grand National on Saturday — and will be up against her brother Ruby Walsh who has won the big race twice.
Katie will partner Our Monty in the £1million Aintree spectacular, while Ruby rides The Midnight Club, currently the 8-1 favourite.
Katie Walsh's booking by trainer Willie Mullins for the 50-1 hopeful means there could be two brother-and-sister acts — both Irish — in action.
Nina Carberry, who rides Character Building, competes against her brother Paul, who is on board Backstage.
Katie Walsh, who rode two winners at last year's Cheltenham Festival, has yet to complete on two attempts over National fences and is reliant on eight horses coming out of the field to be sure of getting a start.
“I can't wait,” said Walsh (26). “Hopefully he gets in. I rode Pomme Tiepy around there in the Topham last year and we tipped up at the first.
“I also rode Battlefront there in November and we had our disagreements.
“I've never completed there but it's great to be a part of the National — that's what anyone would want.”
Ruby Walsh will be reunited with Denman in the totesport Bowl at Aintree on Thursday, the opening day of the Grand National meeting.
The Kildare jockey has not ridden Paul Nicholls’ 2008 Cheltenham Gold Cup winner since Denman won a second Hennessy in November 2009.
The 11-year-old is winless since then but has finished second in the past two renewals of the Gold Cup to Imperial Commander and Long Run respectively with Tony McCoy and Sam Thomas sharing the riding duties.
Paul Barber's charge is one of 13 entries in the Grade One event but Long Run has already been ruled out.
Nicholls said: “Everyone is asking me how Denman is. Well he did a great piece of work with Big Buck's yesterday and we are very happy with him. Ruby rides Thursday.”
McCoy tuned up for his Grand National defence with a treble at Market Rasen yesterday.
The Ulsterman — who won the Grand National for the first time last year on Don’t Push It — was triumphant on board Babysitter and I Can Run Can You, both for Jonjo O’Neill, as well as Higgy’s Ragazzo for Nicky Henderson.
McCoy rides Don’t Push It again in the National on Saturday and feels the 11-year-old has every chance of back-to-back successes.
“He seems in good shape and ran a nice race in the Pertemps Final,” said McCoy.
“He's progressed all year and we've kept him to hurdles to keep him mentally fresh.
“The National's a gruelling race and we wanted to get him to enjoy his racing. I think we've done the right thing with his preparation.
“He's got 11st 10lb and no horse since Red Rum has won back-to-back Nationals with that kind of weight, but he's got a lot going for him. It's a better race than ever these days and you need a classy horse,” he added.
State Of Play, meanwhile, came through his final serious piece of work with flying colours ahead of the National.
The 11-year-old has not run since he finished third to Don't Push It in the great race 12 months ago. He was fourth in 2009.
Trainer Evan Williams reports his stable stalwart to be in fine shape as he attempts to make it third-time lucky in the four and a half mile marathon.
“Everything is good and we're happy with him,” explained Williams.
“Paul (Moloney) has only been riding him very occasionally. He comes down and rides out once a week.
“I'm not concerned about the ground at Aintree. There might be a drop of rain in the middle of the week, it will be good fresh ground and there will be no excuses on that side.”
Meanwhile, Grand National contender One Cool Cookie, who suffered a fatal injury to a front leg while working at trainer Charlie Swan's gallops on Friday, was a past winner of Down Royal’s Guinness Chase.