Although it is the Friday of Aintree’s Grand National meeting that is officially Ladies Day, this year there is a good a chance as any that a lady takes the spoils in the big one itself.
We have yet to see a female jockey bring their mount into the winners enclosure after the gruelling four and a half mile showpiece, but with Katie Walsh and Nina Carberry looking set to take the rides of Seabass and Tofino Bay respectively, this could certainly be the year.
Walsh, sister of two-time winner Ruby, jumped the last in front twelve months ago aboard Seabass, but the gelding ran out of steam and was beaten into third. Nevertheless, that was the best finish for a woman jockey ever, and there is nothing to say that a seven pound swing in the weights with subsequent second Sunnyhillboy won’t be enough to reverse the form.
Carberry looks set to partner Tofino Bay, after guiding Dessie Hughes’ ten year old to runner up spot in the four mile chase at Cheltenham, and the Gigginstown owned runner is certainly not without a chance.
One may think that after running four miles at the Festival just three weeks before the National would take too much out a horse, but the recent record for horses previously running at Cheltenham beforehand does offer some comfort.
2007 winner Silver Birch finished second in the cross country at Cheltenham three weeks before his triumph, while Bindaree ran respectively before claiming the race in 2002. In fact, eight of the last nine runnings have seen a runner from that year’s festival finishing in the first four home.
With 16/1 currently available that a lady jockey will win the race this year, and with Walsh and Carberry looking likely to partner horses that are certainly in the mix, that price does make some appeal.
All odds and markets correct at the date of publishing