Grand National Female Jockeys

grand-national-female-jockeysFairy-tale endings and the Grand National go hand-in-hand, but one mesmerising feat has yet to be accomplished just yet. No female jockey has ever won the Grand National.

This year all eyes will be on Irish rider Katy Walsh to see whether that record can be broken. The odds are in her favour too with Seabass just a 14/1 shot to land her father Ted, with his second Grand National after winning it with Papillion in 2000.

Katy is the sister of Ruby Walsh, who has won the National twice, in a huge racing dynasty that stretches through the Carberry family aswell.

She began her riding career in 2003, and is arguably the strongest ever female jockey to ride over fences.

This was epitomised by a famous double she rode at the Cheltenham Festival in 2010 aboard the Ferdy Murphy-trained Poker De Sivola in the National Hunt Chase Challenge Cup and Thousand Stars in the Vincent O’Brien County Hurdle.

We may have not been talking about this female duck in the world’s greatest steeplechase if things would have played out slightly differently in the 2012 Grand National.

Walsh was oh-so close to landing the spoils aboard Seabass, who jumped round Aintree effortlessly and looked the most likely winner as they came around the final turn.

With the crowd holding its breath and every women in the country roaring Katie on, the horse ran out of gas in the final stages and had to settle for third as winner Neptune Collonges and runner-up Sunnyhillboy were too strong on the run-in.

She did manage to break one record though, as she has now entered the record books as achieving the best finish by a female rider in Grand National history.

The best finish previously by a female rider in the Grand National was fifth, which had been achieved twice – by Rosemary Henderson (Fiddlers Pike, 1994) and Carrie Ford (Forest Gunner, 2005).

Just to get round the Aintree fences, which are some of the toughest in the world was a fantastic achievement by Walsh as only four of the 14 women jockeys to take part have completed the race.

“It was absolutely super,” Walsh said after the race

“He jumped from fence to fence. He wants to toe everywhere and there was no point cantering him out the back as I was happy where I was. I don’t know if I thought I was going to win, but when I turned in I was going as good as anything else.

But I knew going into the last the horse didn’t have that much left, so I didn’t want to ask him for a big one at the last and go down.

But he popped it then galloped all the way to the line. It was a fantastic spin. I’m glad it all paid off. There was a lot of pressure off different people with people wondering whether I’d get round, so I showed them.”

It would be hugely surprising not to see her on board Seabass again this year as she will look to break the female jockey duck.

However, Walsh feels that her chances of improving on last year’s performance look doubtful as the handicapper has given the horse a 5lbs hike the weights to a mark of 154.

That won’t do his chances much good for a horse that seemed to fully see out the trip last season.

To win a National you need stay longer than the mother in-law therefore although Seabass does jump impeccably the chances of Walsh becoming the first female jockey to win in the big Aintree feature look slim.