Trainer Ciaron Maher has confirmed that the world’s best jumps jockey Ruby Walsh will make the trip to Australia to ride Bashboy in the Grand National Steeplechase at Ballarat on Sunday.
Steven Pateman has been the regular rider of Bashboy throughout his career over the jumps and he steered him to victory in both the Thackeray Steeplechase (3450m) at Warrnambool on June 14 as well as the Crisp Steeplechase (3900m) at the same venue on July 12 this preparation, but he was ruled out of the Grand National Steeplechase when his appeal against a careless riding charge was dismissed.
Many in the racing industry considered it a pipedream when Walsh’s names was put forward as a potential replacement for Pateman, but Maher told Racing.com last night that he was thrilled to be able to secure the services of the nine-time leading jockey at the Cheltenham Festival.
“It’s heartbreaking for Steve but Ruby is probably the best in the business so to get him down here is great for Australian racing and particularly for jumps racing,” Maher said.
“His feats at the Cheltenham Festival this year were amazing and he’s just an outstanding rider who is at the top of his game so I’m rapt to be able to get him.
“It would be great to get his opinion on the horse because obviously he rides the best of the best over there and it would be interesting to see his opinion on not only the horse but our racing.”
Walsh starting riding at a very young age and he claimed the Irish National Hunt Champion Jockey title before he turned twenty and he has since gone on to claim the title on ten occasions.
He claimed his first leading jockey award at the 2004 Cheltenham Festival and he claimed the title again in 2006 before taking it out subsequently in 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2013, 2014 and 2015 – comfortable breaking the record for the most race wins at the famous festival.
Walsh has piloted some of the modern day jumps racing greats to countless victories and he was the regular rider for equine superstar Kauto Star, who won the King George VI Chase on five occasions from 2006 to 2011.
Robert Smerdon is also keen to acquire the services of Walsh and the star hoop will ride Arch Fire in the JJ Houlahan Hurdle over 3200 metres before he takes the ride on Bashboy in the feature event of the day.