Katie Walsh 'counting down the days' until Grand National test on her husband's horse

Katie Walsh is unconcerned about the Aintree ground ahead of Baie Des Iles' Randox Health Grand National challenge on Saturday.

The seven-year-old finished a creditable third in the Grand National Trial at Punchestown back in February on heavy ground and while the grey has done most of her racing in testing conditions, her big-race rider does not think deep ground is a necessity.

As well as Walsh aiming to be the first female to ride the winner, the mare is trained by her husband, Ross O'Sullivan.

Walsh said: "Baie Des Iles is really well at home and we are very much looking forward to Saturday.

"She did a nice piece of work towards the end of last week and everything has gone smoothly with her.

"She has plenty of form on heavy ground, but she has a good action and I think better ground wouldn't be too much of an issue either.

"We're counting down the days now, but it's going to be a great experience and I'm looking forward to riding in the race again and especially for Ross.

"There is so much luck involved in a Grand National. It can depend on where you've been positioned throughout the race or whether you're behind a horse who doesn't jump well. There are a lot of variables involved.

"Every runner has a chance of winning the Grand National - you just do not know what is going to happen. We're really excited about Baie Des Iles and it will be great to be a part of the race again - I'm really looking forward to it.

"Zorka Wentworth (owner) has been a great supporter of the yard who loves the game of National Hunt racing, so she's also looking forward to the experience."

Baie Des Iles forms part of a strong Irish challenge this year, with the likes of Gordon Elliott's Tiger Roll and the Willie Mullins-trained Total Recall prominent in the ante-post market.

Another live chance for the raiding party is Raz De Maree, winner of the Welsh National at Chepstow on his most recent outing in January.

Trainer Gavin Cromwell is hoping his 13-year-old can go the early pace in the four-and-quarter-mile feature.

"They go off very quick and the key thing is whether he can stay in the race or not. As long as he doesn't get detached he'll be fine. He's very slow. But the more of a test of stamina it is the better because he doesn't know how to stop," Cromwell told the Irish Times.

"It comes down to each horse's enthusiasm, and soundness. Raz De Maree is a very sound horse. He's also relatively lightly raced and he's still very enthusiastic. We seem to be getting a good old tune out of him. He's definitely as good now as I've ever had him. But I can't put it down to anything beyond that."

- PA


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