Has there ever been a better year for female jockeys in jumps racing? Following a Cheltenham Festival that was rich with female talent fingers are crossed that their success can be repeated at the Aintree Festival and in particular, the 2018 Grand National. Katie Walsh, the race’s most successful female jockey, will once again be taking to the starting line-up in what would be a historic run if she can finally do what no other woman has done and actually win a Grand National.
It has been six years since Katie Walsh finished third in the National on board Seabass, making her the highest placed female jockey in the history of the event and the leading amateur rider can’t wait to have another crack at the showpiece with Baie Des Iles.
It’s fair to say that she will have her work cut out for her if for no other reason than the history books aren’t exactly littered with seven year old winners, or grey winners, or winning mares and as we know, no female jockey winners but Walsh is up for the challenge.
Baie Des Iles, who is trained by her Katie Walsh’s husband Ross O’Sullivan, has general odds of 66/1 ante-post but for those that love to back a long shot, this could be right up their street.
Baie Des Iles has run 23 times under race rules, 12 of which were chases that returned three wins and five places. That puts her in the money more than 66% of the time, and 83% of the time if you include finishes up to 5th place, the point at which most bookmakers pay out on the Grand National.
She was third in the Grand National Trial at Punchestown in February over 3m4f, a race she won last year and hasn’t carried less than 11-04 this season so the 10-07 for the 2018 Grand National will be a huge bonus.
Other notable positives include never unseating a jockey and never being pulled-up and only one career fall three years ago, so for consistency there are few entered this year that can claim better records.
Speaking at the Grand National Northern Media lunch she 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.”
She added: “She ran in France and they’ve a lot of different obstacles over there. Touch-wood, she seems to be a good, safe jumper, so I don’t think there’d be any reason why she should (school over National fences).
“A lot of her form is on soft to heavy ground, but, for me, I don’t feel she wants it as soft as her form suggests.
“I think the track will definitely suit and the trip will without doubt suit.
“So much can go right and so much can go wrong, but hopefully with a bit of luck she’ll be here in good order.”