Walsh proud of Katie's National performance

Sun, Apr 15, 2012, 01:00

Racing:Ted Walsh was full of praise for his daughter Katie after she became the highest-placed female rider in Grand National history after finishing third on Seabass.

Walsh senior had trained the nine-year-old to seven consecutive victories this season, and he was strongly supported into joint-favouritism before the start of the Aintree spectacular.

Positioned close to pace throughout, Seabass gave Katie Walsh the ride of her life and only gave way in the closing stages, passing the post behind winner Neptune Collonges and Sunnyhillboy.

The trainer admits for a short period he did think he could be about to train his second National winner, following on from Papillon in 2000, who was ridden by his son, Ruby.

“The only way the result could have been better was if she’d managed to win it, but the horse acquitted himself well and was right there with a chance until the Elbow,” said Walsh.

“Katie gave him a smashing ride every step of the way. There was plenty of pressure there on a young girl and plenty of eyes on her, but she came home with a big smile. It’s something she’ll have for the rest of her life.

“Everything went well for her and because she was in the first six or seven she could avoid any trouble behind her.

“He jumped really well and I thought jumping the second-last he was going as good as anything if not a bit better. For a few strides I thought could this really be happening? But the other two were just better on the day and pulled away.

“If he had 10lb less he would definitely have been a bit closer, but then he might not have got in. He’s got glassy legs on him and it would be all very good saying you could lay him out for the National in a year’s time.

“I’ll have a chat with the owners and see what they want to do. They’ll be paying the bills.

“He took to the place well and he if he got back there again around the same sort of handicap mark, he’s in with a shout again. It’s a great race and a great pot, so that might be the plan.

“He’s well this morning. He’s out in the field with Papillon, I don’t know if he’s filling him in on what he should have done or shouldn’t have done!”

Following the deaths of Cheltenham Gold Cup hero Synchronised and According To Pete, safety is once again back in the spotlight.

Walsh believes the risk element to the race has to be accepted and thinks any further changes to the course would “drown” the race.

“I don’t see anything wrong with the National. I think it’s dreadful when a horse breaks its leg, I think it’s dreadful when a horse breaks its neck and I think it’s terrible when a horse receives an injury and has to be put down,” Walsh continued.

“But if you’re completely anti the National, which certain people are, they won’t be satisfied until there is no National. In horse racing, or horse riding even, you are never going to eliminate the risk.

“Whenever you tack up a horse and go for a jog out in a field or a pop over a few fences, there is always the risk a horse could break his joint or his knee. That is part of riding a horse. If you’re against that, then you don’t even want to see horses ridden.

“I think the National has to stay the way that it is, otherwise it’s not going to be the National. If you just turn it into a four-mile chase over park fences with 20 runners, it might as well be the Scottish National. You can’t have that.

“It’s a unique horse race and part of the British sporting history. They’ve modified it a lot over the years. I’m old school and think they should have left it a little bit more like it was.

“It’s a test on horses jumping and a test of a rider’s ability. At the same time I don’t like to see anybody getting injured or hurt.

“I have great respect for the RSPCA and the work they do, but I think the genuine people should be looking at the bigger picture and how animals are being badly treated in their own homes.

“It’s very easy picking on the National, it’s an easy target, but the National is a great race. It’s a great institution and I think it would be absolutely terrible to do much more with it.

“I respect my son and my daughter. They went out there to ride, that is what they wanted to do and I had my heart in my mouth. But I’m sure the fathers and mothers of the lads who play rugby or the people that come down the side of mountains on skis are the same. All those things are dangerous.

“People who want away with the National, don’t want racing - full stop.

“Three horses got killed in Dubai last week in a two-mile Flat race. You didn’t see that all over the news. People want to hammer the poor old Grand National.

“I think the British Horseracing Authority and the people who run racing should stand their ground. You’ve got to listen to people and be open minded, but at the moment they are doing all they can.”