All the vibes emanating from the Willie Mullins yard at present seem to suggest that the hugely popular Ruby Walsh is likely to take the mount on the exciting Prince de Beauchene, the current ante-post favourite for the Johns Smith’s Grand National which takes place at Aintree on April 14, writes Elliot Slater.
Walsh, who won the great race on his father’s Papillon in 2000, and again in 2005 on the gallant Hedgehunter (trained by Mullins), is reported to be favouring the Graham Wylie-owned gelding who was formerly trained by the now disqualified Howard Johnson in County Durham, for whom he showed progressive form in winning the valuable Betfred Daffodil Handicap Chase at Haydock in April 2010, and then 12 months later went on to win at Aintree, landing the listed John Smith’s Handicap Chase by a length-and-a-half from Categorical. Fans of Betfred Grand National odds should bear this in mind.
The gelded son of French Glory joined Mullins in November and was soon in action finishing a respectable fifth of the 25 runners behind Groody Hill in the very competitive Troytown Handicap Chase at Navan, before stepping up in class to win the Grade 2 At The Races Bobbyjo Chase at Fairyhouse in February, a noted Grand National trial, where he handed out at six-length beating to Aintree specialist Black Apalachi in the manner of a horse who is still on the upgrade. Anyone betting on Grand National needs to remember this.
His Fairyhouse success saw a rush of money for Mullins’ charge who was soon installed favourite in the ante-post market at around 9/1, (having been available at a general offer of 16’s prior to his eye-catching win), a position he continues to occupy despite the high profile success of Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Synchronised, a measure of how seriously his chance is taken by the bookmaking fraternity. With Mullins having a number of other potential runners in the big race a final decision on who will ride what is still awaited.