Leading jockey Katie Walsh shared her insight into what it takes to ride the Grand National course and opened up a whole new sporting world to Rugby World Cup winner Maggie Alphonsi MBE and Judy Murray, former GB Captain for the International Tennis Federation’s Fed Cup team.
The Grand National's most successful female jockey Katie Walsh hosted a course walk around the iconic Aintree fences as part of the Grand Women’s Summit event along with 2015 Grand National winning trainer Oliver Sherwood and Carey Ford who rode FOREST GUNNER into fourth place in the race in 2005. Katie, who finished third in the race in 2012, rode BALLYCASEY in the 2016 renewal and unfortunately fell before the finish. (Both horse and rider were unharmed.)
As horseracing ‘first timers’ both Maggie and Judy were keen to hear Katie’s accounts at each of the fences and everyone experienced the difference in atmosphere between the bustle of the fences closest to the stands and the relative quiet of those on the furthest part of the course.
The fences are all huge of course, but Katie pointed out the subtle adjustments that have been made to manage the safety aspect more effectively – such as the ramp of the approach, the softer firs covering a rubber structure instead of stiff birch and guiding rails introduced at Becher's and the Canal Turn to manage the lead in to the obstacles of a field of up to 40 horses.
Everyone agreed that they would be watching the Grand National from now on with renewed interest and respect for any rider and horse lining up for the world-famous challenge.
Read more on the Grand Women’s Summit page.