Walsh lined up for National favourite
Thursday 22 March 2012
Barely has the ink dried on the Cheltenham Festival formbook than plans are being mooted for the next major pitstop on the domestic spring circuit. And for all the prestige of the top events at Prestbury Park, it is the Grand National, with a purse just a whisker short of £1m, that provides the richest single-race pickings of the season.
Aintree opens the gates for its showcase meeting three weeks today, and yesterday Willie Mullins, trainer of the National market leader Prince De Beauchene, gave a broad hint that the nine-year-old would be the mount of Ruby Walsh, the most successful Grand National jockey currently riding.
Mullins has a team of six among the 59 remaining in the race after this week's scratchings stage, all of whom will make the 40-horse cut. Prince De Beauchene, who announced his credentials last month with a easy victory in Ireland's top National trial, has back-up from another in the Graham Wylie colours, On His Own, plus Quel Esprit, Apt Approach, The Midnight Club and Quiscover Fontaine.
"We'll see closer to the time what will go to Aintree," said the Co Carlow-based trainer, who has one National, with Hedgehunter in 2005, on his CV, "but I'll be happy just to get Graham Wylie's two horses there. They'd be a very nice team on their own."
Walsh has won two Nationals, on his first ride in the race, Papillon, trained by his father Ted, in 2000 and on Hedgehunter for his current Irish boss. In addition, he has finished in the first four four times (on Papillon, Kingsmark, Hedgehunter and My Will), and failed to complete only once in his 10 rides. "I haven't asked him yet what he'd like to ride," added Mullins, "but I should imagine that he'd always think it's nice to ride a favourite."
Prince De Beauchene is generally a 9-1 shot in the lists for the John Smith's-sponsored £975,000 marathon, ahead of the home side's Junior, the Gold Cup hero Synchronised, last year's winner Ballabriggs and Burton Port. On His Own, also a comfortable winner of an Irish trial last time out, is around a 20-1 shot.
Quel Esprit, who was ruled out of the Gold Cup after rider Paul Townend felt him lame during a leg-stretch on the morning of the race and remained at a veterinary practice in England, is due back at Closutton today. "He seems fine now," said Mullins, "but we'll see what he's like once he gets home before making any plans."
Chris McGrath's Nap
Golden Firebird (2.10 Chepstow) Bumper winner. Unseated rider at the first on hurdling bow but is well-regarded in her powerful stable.
Greyfriarschorista (3.40 Wolverhampton) Has run respectably in far better company so could revel in the drop in class.
One to watch
Allee Garde (Willie Mullins) fell at halfway in Festival's NH Chase but looks a fair staying prospect and will like the spring ground.
Where the money's going
Cai Shen was backed from 7-1 to 4s at Paddy Power for the Winter Derby, the AW season's top contest at Lingfield on Saturday.
Latest in Sport
WrestleMania 31: What time does it start? Full match card and preview ahead of WWE event
Cricket World Cup 2015: Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?
Gareth Bale to Chelsea: Real Madrid to be 'tempted by £75m offer' this summer
Manchester United transfer news: Chris Smalling and Phil Jones face uncertain future with contract renewal talks on hold
Malaysia Grand Prix 2015 LIVE: Sebastian Vettel wins in just his second race with Ferrari with Lewis Hamilton second and Nico Rosberg third
- 1 Is this bridge haunted by the ghost of nu rave?
- 2 Woman filmed launching racist tirade against men on the Tube for speaking in 'own lingo'
- 3 The West has it totally wrong on Lee Kuan Yew
- 4 Scientists have discovered a simple way to cook rice that dramatically cuts the calories
- 5 Noel Gallagher: I lost sh*tloads of money, a few million, didn’t tell my wife
Ukip supporters are 55 or older, white and socially conservative, finds British Social Attitudes Report
JK Rowling responds to fan tweeting she 'can't see' Dumbledore being gay
Jeremy Clarkson sacked live: Alan Yentob 'wouldn't rule out' ex Top Gear host's BBC return
David Cameron calls Labour 'hopeless, sneering socialists' while announcing 7-day NHS plans
Revealed: Putin's army of pro-Kremlin bloggers
The West has it totally wrong on Lee Kuan Yew
£6 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join a gro...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Service Delivery Manager is required to join...
£12000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A opportunity has arisen for a ...
£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...