Former jockeys Ruby and Katie Walsh have been named as the Racing Ambassadors for the 2020 Grand National Festival, 20 years after their family’s iconic Aintree win with Papillon.
The siblings are notable figures in the world of horse racing, having gone on to achieve an impressive measure of success as riders and are set to do their family proud yet again.
Ruby is coming off a remarkable career, landing some of the biggest races on the calendar during his storied metier. He would rise to fame after winning the Grand National, flying past the line sat atop Papillon in his first Aintree race back in 2000. Papillon, trained by his father Ted, went from 30/1 to 10/1 on the day of the race and was walked out by a then 15-year-old Katie.
The older Walsh saw more success at Aintree five years later aboard Hedgehunter, trained by Willie Mullins, winning by a whopping 14 lengths. He totaled 13 Grand National rides before announcing his retirement earlier this year.
Apart from the pair of victories mentioned above, Ruby also finished fourth on Kingsmark back in 2002, third on My Will in 2009 and third on his last ride atop Rathvinden in April this year. He leaves the discipline with a total of 2,756 wins in Britain and a record 59 wins at the Cheltenham Festival.
The 40-year-old has since taken up punditry and will be calling the Ladbrokes Trophy this weekend.
“If I’ve to point out an error a jockey has made, that’s the job now. Some will like it, some won’t, but that’s just the way it is,” he said, via Paddy Power. “It’s obviously not a personal thing, just you’re reading the race as you see it and if someone does something wrong, you’ve got to highlight it.”
His sister Katie, meanwhile, is the highest-placed female rider in Grand National history, having clocked a third-place finish on Seabass, also trained by her father, in 2012. She participated in six Grand National events and only came up short once as it pertains to completing the course. The 34-year-old made her last Aintree run aboard Baie Des Isles, a horse trained by her husband Ross O’Sullivan, last year.
Katie racked up nearly 200 wins over the course of her career, inclusive of three Cheltenham victories and an Irish Grand National triumph. She announced her retirement after riding Antey to a win in a novice’s hurdle at the Punchestown Festival in April of 2018. This season will be her sixth as a Racing Ambassador for the Grand National Festival.
Interested fans can find all the Grand National betting offers and free bets for 2020 at Freebets, with Tiger Roll still favourite to place first amid concerns stemming from a recent surgery. The Irish-bred thoroughbred is 7/1 to win the race with Betfair and 5/1 with Skybet. William Hill has odds of 20/1 going on Burrows Saint, with Native River, and Rathvinden both 25/1.
Anibale Fly is 33/1 with Betfair, who are also offering the same odds on Pleasant Company. Unibet has 33/1 odds running on Blacklion, Calett Mad, Any Second Now, Borice, Frondon, Sizing John and Magic of Light.
A full list of the runners could be found here.