Walsh Wins National, But It Ain’t In Liverpool!
The fact that we are in the middle of October didn’t prevent Ruby Walsh from winning another Grand National, on Saturday!
The American version was held at Far Hills Racecourse, in New Jersey. Walsh was on-board Rawnaq, a horse that has been trained by both Robbie Hennessey and Matthew Smith in Ireland.
Most of Rawnaq’s previous successes cam for Smith, most notably victory in the G2 Flyingbolt Novice Chase at Navan. He’s also raced at Cheltenham, placing in both hurdle and steeplechase encounters.
The win at Far Hills means he can now scoop a $500,000 bonus for connections, by also winning the Ryanair World Hurdle at Prestbury Park in March.
Nicky Henderson’s Days Of Heaven and the Charlie Longsdon-trained Sharp Rise also took part in the contest, but Rawnaq asserted his dominance towards the end of the race and held-off a strong challenge from Scorpiancer.
Win Came Out Of The Blue
Walsh was only booked for the ride, because of an injury suffered by Jack Doyle.
“I was the lucky guy who got to ride him today. He’d run over fences in Ireland and I was confident in his ability to jump, and jump racing is about being able to jump. Thank you to Mr Naylor for bringing me over and it’s great to be here.
“The race unfolded beautifully, he jumped the first couple really well. It was an honest pace all the way, and when the English horses slackened off he outstayed them from there. The hill was quite testing, but he was in unbelievable shape.
“I saw too much of Rawnaq the other day, but I learnt that day he is a really strong stayer, Jack rode him and we couldn’t get by him and he showed that again today the way he battled from the last fence.”
With the new National Hunt season getting underway, Walsh’s rivals should take note. The great man can still win a big race, just about anywhere!
Crowley & Gordon Confirmed Champions
Former National Hunt rider, Jim Crowley, finally pulled off a remarkable and unlikely victory in the Flat Jockey Championship last week.
We’ve kept our regular readers abreast of his absorbing battle with Silvestre de Sousa, over the last few months. Both men emerged with great credit, but Crowley proved himself as this season’s best jockey by ratcheting-up the wins as the campaign drew to its close.
“It’s been a lot of hard work and it is just a dream come true. Every jockey dreams of being a champion at one point in their career and to have done it in a more unorthodox way makes it more special.”, said Crowley.
Gordon Pays Tribute To All That Have Helped Her
Josephine Gordon’s story has been incredible and she must now be regarded as amongst the very elite of young riders earning a crust in the British Isles.
The 23-year-old Devonian is only the 3rd female to win the Apprentice Jockey Championship. Amy Ryan and Hayley Turner are the other two.
She is now based at Lambourn in Berkshire and has ridden for more than 100 different trainers in the 2016 campaign. Gordon beat off challenges from both Tom Marquand and Adam McNamara. Both also rode superbly in 2016 and can look forward to glittering careers of their own.
She remained humble about her win, saying “…I am very grateful to Stobart for sponsoring the apprentice championship and to everyone that has given me so much support this season and helped me reach this amazing goal.
“This includes my family, my agent Phil Shea, Stan Moore and all the trainers and owners who have given me rides. And, last but not least I want to say a big thank you to all the brilliant racehorses I have ridden.”
The victories of both Crowley and Gordon are a fitting end to what has been a truly remarkable flat racing season.