Irish rider Katie Walsh remembers her first trip to Australia well and is hoping her second is just as lucrative.
The 31-year-old is a star attraction at Sunday’s Ballarat meeting which features six jumps races including the Grand National Steeplechase.
In 2008 Walsh joined Nina Carberry, Shane Jackson and Alain Cawley in a series of jumps races in Adelaide and Melbourne.
“I got drawn on a couple of Patrick Payne’s and had a couple of winners and a second, so I had a great experience,” she said.
This year, Walsh follows her brother Ruby who rode Bashboy to win the 2015 Grand National while she will ride last-start Sandown winner I’ll’ava’alf in Sunday’s feature.
“A Grand National, no matter where it is, would be lovely to have on your CV,” Walsh said.
“It’s a lovely opportunity to come and ride and Ruby had a great trip last year and he was able to win it.
“Hopefully I’ll have the same sort of trip. So long as I come out of the trip safe and sound I’ll be happy.”
Walsh captains an Irish team which also includes Australian-based Irish riders John Allen, Shane Jackson and Martin Kelly in a three-race series against Australian jockeys Steven Pateman, Brad McLean, Paul Hamblin and Braidon Small.
With 200 wins as a National Hunt jockey in a career of almost 15 years, Walsh says her career is in its twilight.
She has been relatively lucky with injuries – a broken collarbone, a broken ankle and a couple of concussions – and would like to get out of jumps racing relatively unscathed.
But she said she wouldn’t change anything, having had a great career highlighted by her win in the Irish Grand National Steeplechase on Thunder And Roses and a placing aboard Seabass in one of the world’s toughest races, England’s Grand National Steeplechase at Aintree.
“It’s not for everybody but it’s something I absolutely love,” Walsh said.
“Not every girl wants to grow up being in the army and not every little girl wants to be a National Hunt jockey, but I do.
“There’s a good few girls that ride over the jumps, not as many as the boys naturally, but I find the opportunities are fantastic at home if you’re good enough to get the job done.”
Article from JustHorseRacing.com.au