Ruby Walsh insists the decision to ride The Midnight Club in the Grand National on Saturday week is not one he has taken lightly.
Walsh enjoyed Aintree glory on his father Ted’s Papillon in 2000 and on Hedgehunter five years later who, like The Midnight Club, was trained by Irish champion Willie Mullins.
This year Walsh had a choice of mounts from the Mullins team, while he could also have ridden one of Paul Nicholls’ challengers, but he has sided with the pre-post favourite.
“It was a tough decision. I could have ridden Niche Market, What A Friend, The Midnight Club and Willie had several others and Paul had a few more as well,” Walsh told At The Races.
“You can only ride one and I just thought The Midnight Club was the most unexposed in the handicap of all the horses I could ride.
“He might lack a bit of experience, there’s probably plenty of reasons why people won’t fancy him.
“It’s great to have a ride in the Grand National and a fancied one at that.
“I’m looking forward to riding him. I think he’s got a good shout, but in the Grand National all you can hope for is to have a shout.”
What A Friend has arguably the best form on offer having finished fourth in the Cheltenham Gold Cup at his latest appearance and Nicholls feels quicker conditions are crucial to the gelding’s chances.
“The key to him is the weather staying dry and the ground not being too soft. We’ll have to see, but if the ground is good I suppose he’s got a great chance,” the Ditcheat trainer said.
“He’s a brilliant jumper. Horses that struggle with their breathing on soft ground look ungenuine and don’t want to know.
“On better ground, he looked a better horse the other day (in the Gold Cup).”
Written by Ashley Iveson and Keith Hamer