Ruby Walsh helped to create a piece of Australian racing history as he steered Bashboy to an unprecedented third success in the Grand National Steeplechase at Ballarat racecourse yesterday.
Trainer Ciaron Maher booked Walsh for the mount on his 12-year-old after regular rider Steve Pateman was ruled out through suspension and the Irish jockey made a big impact on his first working trip to the country.
Bashboy was saddled with 11st 9lb as he tried to follow up his two previous victories in the extended two-mile-six-furlong race and Walsh took up a prominent early position.
Turning for home, Thubiaan was the only challenger to Bashboy and that rival appeared to have the edge until making a mistake at the second-last obstacle.
Despite Walsh’s mount also making a minor error, he was able to seize the initiative on Bashboy and the veteran responded to the rider’s every urging to come home a half-length winner.
“What a horse,” Walsh said.I thought I still had a little bit left (as we entered the straight). I knew I was giving lots of weight away, but I was jumping so good I couldn’t wait to get to the two fences.
“The horse on my inside nearly fell at the second last and I nearly fell off but when I got him back on an even keel, he started rallying going to the last and I knew I had a good show.
“It’s a pleasure to ride such a wonderful horse.”
Maher was thrilled to see Bashboy secure his place in the record books, particularly in the hands of Walsh.
“I’m ecstatic – it’s unbelievable,” he said. Full credit to Ruby – he’s just a true superstar. Jumping the second last I thought we were going to run second again, but the horse and him rallied. It was a true tough test and it was just a sensational effort.
“It’s great for Australian jumps racing to get a rider of that calibre out here and for him to actually win the race – it’ll be international (news).
“The horse is just an outstanding horse. “I’ll probably never train (another) one like him – his toughness and his durability.
Walsh can now claim to have won the English, Irish, Scottish, Welsh and Australian Grand Nationals as well as the feature Nakayama Grand Jump in Japan and he was delighted his whirlwind visit paid off.
“(I’m) over the moon that I was asked to come, even happier that he won – I’m glad I didn’t fall off him at the back of the second last,” he said.
“It’s brilliant to be here.
“As a jump jockey you don’t get many opportunities to ply your trade abroad. I’m certainly glad that Willie Mullins encouraged me to come and my wife was able to organise three kids at sharp notice to be looked after and we got here.
“It’s been a great day.”
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