In 171 runnings of the Grand National, we have never had a female winner at Aintree. With four miles and 30 jumps between a bumper field and place in the history books, it’s certainly no mean feat to claim the famous handicap steeplechase but we are edging closer to a Merseyside queen with female riders narrowing the gap on the main prize.
With the 2018 renewal run on heavy ground, we ended with no more than 12 finishers; another 26 failing to complete the course. Of the 38 that went to post, Tiger Roll proved the best of them, nicking a dramatic finish from runner-up Pleasant Company, who was beaten by a head with Bless The Wings back in third.
Three female jockeys went to post that day with two crossing the finish line. Here’s a closer look at how Katie Walsh, Bryony Frost and Rachael Blackmore fared in what turned out to be a bit of a mud bath...
Addressing the press in the run-up to Grand National 2018, Bryony Frost spoke of her love for horse racing, describing it as the feeling she lives for. She certainly appeared to be enjoying her debut in the nation’s favourite race and finished best of the three ladies, coming home fifth on Milansbar.
That was enough to return backers a tidy each-way profit with the pair carrying a chunky 25/1 price tag. Riding for trainer Neil King, Frost caught the eye in the opening exchanges with Milansbar prominent in the early to mid-part of the contest, but the fitness of her ride began to unravel at the business end, losing their place five fences from home.
Dropping to ninth going for home the pilot remained calm despite her inexperience, getting more out of the 11-year-old gelding who rallied back to nick a place. Bryony was delighted with her bow, with the rising star describing the day as an amazing feeling with Milansbar giving her the best first spin she could have asked for.
33-year-old Katie Walsh remains the most successful female Grand National jockey in history following her third in 2012 on Seabass. She couldn’t match that in what was to be her final effort in April, posting a respectable 12th on Baie Des Iles following a difficult ride.
Better was expected before the off with traders pricing the seven-year-old mare at 16/1 in the horse racing betting moments before the off, but Ross O’Sullivan’s representative was never nearer than her final place.
Ridden patiently by Walsh in the opening stanza, they made their move as the dust settled but it soon became obvious Baie Des Iles had little more to give and Walsh looked reluctant to push her luck.
It was one to forget for Rachael Blackmore, who had her challenge cut short with 33/1 poke Alpha Des Obeaux a faller at the chair, jump 15. It was no surprise to see the eight-year-old gelding crash either, as he had made a couple of mistakes previous to his final error, including a real blunder at fence number three. The warning signs were there for backers early.
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