Walsh bids to complete Grand National set in US
Rawnaq wins the 2016 Iroquois Hurdle Stakes from Shaneshill
PICTURE: Iroquois Steeplechase Walsh bids to complete Grand National set in US By David Jennings 11:13AM 14 OCT 2016
HE HAS won the British, Irish, Scottish, Welsh, Australian and Japanese Grand Nationals and now Ruby Walsh wants to complete the full set as he jets off to New Jersey on Saturday to ride odds-on favourite Rawnaq in the American equivalent at Far Hills, where the general admission is a whopping $200 but a crowd of 35,000 is still expected.
Rawnaq made his American debut in the race last year when a close-up third to the ex-Nicky Henderson-trained Dawalan but has since lowered the colours of the Willie Mullins' pair Shaneshill and Nichols Canyon in the Grade 1 Iroquois Hurdle in mid-May so it is no surprise to see him as short as 8-11 with Paddy Power.
Walsh is travelling more in expectation than hope too. He will fly over on Friday and come back in the early hours of Sunday morning, just in time to take up a book of rides at Cork.
"He looks to have a great chance," admitted Walsh. "He was too good for Shaneshill and Nicholls Canyon in the Tennessee race and those are two fair horses. That looks the best level of form in the race. It is a big pot, bigger than anything on offer over jumps in Ireland or England over the weekend, so I'm more than happy to be going over for the ride. I am looking forward to it."
So too is Rawnaq's trainer Cyril Murphy who is thrilled to have secured the services of Walsh after regular rider Jack Doyle picked up a nasty injury last month.
"It is great to get Ruby. When you get someone like Ruby you know he will do the job properly. It will just be a case of legging him up on the race and that's it. There will be no need for directions or advice. It is Ruby Walsh," Murphy said.
He added: "The horse could not be in any better form. He was sourced for me by Paul Byrne in Ireland and has done really well since coming over. I would be a bit worried about the two imports, Sharp Rise and Days Of Heaven, but physically Rawnaq is in great shape and we purposely have not run him since May as the ground was very quick through the summer."