With the countdown well and truly on for the John Smith’s Grand National at Aintree on April 6, the prospect of a truly historic sporting result is looming ever larger with the feeling being that Katie Walsh might well become the first woman ever to win the world’s greatest steeplechase.
Walsh partnered Seabass to a memorable third place in last year’s renewal, leading at the second last and staying in front with tens of thousands of race fans screaming her on at the track and millions more cheering her on in front of their television sets around the world.
In the end, Seabass couldn’t hold on and was passed by fellow Grand National runners, Neptunes Collonges and Sunnyhillboy, who went on to fight out one of the very best finishes in the long and distinguished history of the race.
This season, Seabass’ preparation has been all about a repeat Aintree bid and everything appears to have gone to plan so far with two rock solid placed efforts at Fairyhouse in February, leaving trainer, Ted Walsh, satisfied that he has the 10-year-old gelding exactly where he wants him.
Katie Walsh, Ted’s daughter, is certain to once again be the focus of international media attention but has shown she can handle the limelight much in the same way her brilliant brother, Ruby, does day in, day out.
Currently a well backed 11/1 second-favourite (behind 8/1 shot On His Own, who may well be ridden by Ruby), Seabass would appreciate some give in the ground so connections will be hoping for rain in the days leading up to the big event.
At a much bigger price it might pay to take a second glance at the Tim Vaughan-trained Saint Are (66/1), a Grade 1 winner at Aintree over hurdles and winner of the listed John Smith’s Handicap Chase on Grand National day 12 months ago.
According to Befair’s guide for the reluctant tipster, this horse seems to save his very best performances for the Liverpool track.