11.50am: Walsh has no ground fears for Baie Des Iles
Tony Paley: Katie Walsh, who is aiming to be the first female rider to win the Grand National, is not worried about ground conditions at Aintree for her mount Baie Des Iles’ challenge on Saturday.
The seven-year-old runner was third in the Grand National Trial at Punchestown on heavy ground but her rider does not think deep ground is a necessity.
Walsh, who finished third in the 2012 National on Seabass, said: “Baie Des Iles is really well at home and we are very much looking forward to Saturday. She did a nice piece of work towards the end of last week and everything has gone smoothly with her.
“She has plenty of form on heavy ground, but she has a good action and I think better ground wouldn’t be too much of an issue either.”
As well as Walsh aiming to be the first female to ride the winner, the mare is trained by her husband, Ross O’Sullivan.
“We’re counting down the days now, but it’s going to be a great experience and I’m looking forward to riding in the race again and especially for Ross.
“There is so much luck involved in a Grand National. It can depend on where you’ve been positioned throughout the race or whether you’re behind a horse who doesn’t jump well. There are a lot of variables involved.
“Every runner has a chance of winning the Grand National – you just do not know what is going to happen. We’re really excited about Baie Des Iles and it will be great to be a part of the race again – I’m really looking forward to it. ”
There are three female jockeys lined up to ride in this year’s National with Rachael Blackamore, one of a handful of women professional riders in Ireland, booked for Alpha Des Obeaux and Bryony Frost on board Milansbar.
Today’s best bets, by Greg Wood
Overnight rain has accounted for two of Tuesday’s four scheduled meetings this morning, with Southwell forced to abandon its seven-race National Hunt card following a 7am inspection and Hexham following suit a few minutes ago with its track waterlogged and more rain expected. That leaves Hereford’s jumps card as the only survivor this afternoon – and if you were planning to attend Nottingham’s first Flat meeting of the new turf campaign on Wednesday, you can forget about that as well.
The obvious temptation is to spend a little more time looking at Saturday’s Grand National, but there are a couple of runners worth a second look at Hereford, including Surtee Du Berlais (3.10) in what promises to be a demanding handicap hurdle for stayers.
Oliver Sherwood’s mare has not run over hurdles since February 2017, but had enough talent over timber to win a Listed event at Kempton in November 2016 and earn a handicap mark of 138. Surtee Du Berlais returns to the smaller obstacles on Tuesday off 132 following a somewhat underwhelming campaign over fences, but she is a live runner at around 7-1 if she can rediscover anything close to her best hurdling form.
Llantara (2.10) produced a career-best to win by 15 lengths at Towcester 12 days ago and while a couple of those that were fancied to run well were left floundering on the ground, the winner’s time was solid. She should follow up today, while Faadhel (6.45) can make the most of an opening mark of 70 on the Flat card at Wolverhampton this evening.