Tuesday, 10 April 2018

The First Woman to Ride a Grand National Winner?

The First Woman to Ride a Grand National Winner?
You don't need me to tell you that the Grand National is almost here. Listen hard and you can hear the name Red Rum whispered with joyful praise. That emotive music score from composer Carl Davis. I really should watch the film Champions detailing the heartfelt story of man and horse: Bob Champion and Aldaniti who proved victorious in 1981. 

The Grand National has so many stories. I mean, most of the fences are named after horses who got lucky (Foinavon) or unfortunate jockeys (Captain Becher) who hid in a ditch after his horse fell. This race is built on stories. 

Who could forget Jenny Pitman the first woman to train a National winner in 1983 when Corbiere stormed home. She won again in 1995 with Royal Athlete at 40/1. 

At some point, it has all happened. 

We know one thing that has never happened but it could do if lady luck has anything to do with the result on 14th April. 

Could we see the first woman to ride a Grand National winner?

If the betting is anything to be believed, this year could be the closest we come to a story which many would consider on a par with the three victories of Red Rum.

Baie Des Iles - the flashy grey mare - has been heavily backed in the betting - slashed to 16/1. Katie Walsh is primed for the biggest race of her life at 5:15 Aintree, Saturday 14th April

Walsh came close to winning in 2012 but this time she could make history. 

Few people remember that it took the 1975 Sex Discrimination Act to make it possible for female jockeys to take part. 

The first female jockey to take part being Charlotte Brew in 1977, riding 200/1 outsider Barony Fort. The duo didn't complete the course after her mounted refused to jump the 26th fence. In fact, it took until 1982 for Geraldine Rees to complete the course in 8th riding Cheers a 66/1 shot. Other notable achievements include Carrie Ford finishing fifth in 2005 on 8/1 second favourite Forest Gunner. 

Katy Walsh has come the closest to winning when third on second-favourite Seabass in 2012.   

Baie Des Iles is trained by Ross O'Sullivan. The seven-year-old grey mare most recently finished third when contesting a race at Punchestown (Ireland) on heavy going. Katie Walsh rode the horse as she has on its last eight runs. Support came for this horse after being priced 50/1 last week.     

Only three grey horses have won the Grand National. 
  • The Lamb (1868, 1871)
  • Nicolause Silver (1961)
  • Neptune Collenges (2012)