Legendary jockey Ruby Walsh combined with champion jumper Bashboy to record a heroic victory in the 2015 Grand National Steeplechase at Ballarat yesterday.
Walsh made the trip to Australia to partner Bashboy in the Grand National Steeplechase following the suspension to regular jockey Steven Pateman and he elected to settle Bashboy just behind the leader King Triton in the early stages of the race.
The leading hoop took Bashboy to the front with about 1600 metres left to run and he was travelling strongly, but he was challenged by Thubiaan coming around the final bend and the duo cleared out to fight out the finish.
Both horses were out on their feet in the final stages of the race and they both almost lost their riders at the second last jump before Bashboy showed his incredible will to win to claim a historic third Grand National Steeplechase win.
Walsh admitted that he did not think that Bashboy had much left in the tank when he was challenged by Thubiaan coming into the straight, but he was thrilled with the fight shown by the two-year-old in the final stages of the race.
“What a horse,” Walsh said after the race.
“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.”
Ciaron Maher has had an outstanding season on both the flat and over the jumps, taking out the Group 1 Crown Oaks (2500m) with Set Square as well as the Group 1 Stradbroke Handicap (1350m) and Group 1 Tattersall’s Tiara (1400m) with Srikandi, but he was clearly delighted to see Bashboy claim another famous win.
Maher was quick to pay credit to the ride of Walsh and he said that it was a great honour to have the Irish legend ride one of his horses in one of the biggest events on the Australian jumps racing calendar.
“I’m ecstatic, it’s unbelievable,” Maher 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 and it’ll be international (news).
“The horse is just an outstanding horse and I’ll probably never train (another) one like him.
“I’m rapt it’s all come off.”
Bashboy became the first horse in Australia to win over $1 million in prizemoney in races over the jumps and the first horse to reclaim the Grand National Steeplechase title.