In two separate marketing releases, UK sports betting operators Betway and Coral spoke to former jockey Katie Walsh and current competitor Tom Scudamore, who each gave a different perspective on the significance of the Grand National.
Walsh is one of the most successful women to have ever competed in racing, having achieved over 100 wins including the Irish Grand National, focused on the history of female jockeys, and their fortunes in the UK Grand National.
“Any child who was lucky enough to have a pony growing up has ridden the Grand National a thousand times in their head, hoping that one day it might happen in real life.
“But when it comes to women actually riding in the race, my first recollection is of the movie National Velvet, where Elizabeth Taylor had to cut her own hair short and pretend that she was a boy – and it wasn’t even real.”
She highlighted the achievements of Nina Carberry, her sister-in-law, who completed the course three times between 2006 and 2011, and Carrie Ford, who finished fifth in 2005 despite Ginger McCain’s insistence that the Grand National was ‘no place for a woman’.
Walsh became a brand ambassador for Betway in December 2018 following her retirement from professional horse racing, writing regular blogs for Betway Insider on news regarding the sport and wider industry.
She concluded with the message: “One day a woman will cross the line in front. It’s only a matter of time. But you need more than just talent to win the National. It’s a lottery, all right. But when you’ve got a ticket, you’ve got a chance.”
Scudamore, meanwhile, discussed his family’s rich history in horse racing, with his grandfather, Michael Scudamore, famously winning the Grand National in 1959 with Oxo.
The steeplechase and flat racing jockey claimed ten Cheltenham Festival victories between 2008 and 2015, lifting the Festival Trophy Handicap Chase three times, but Aintree’s iconic event has consistently eluded him.
“People are aware of that race more than any other,” he began. “It was always part of my family’s history.”
He continued: “I’m extremely proud of everything that my father and grandfather have achieved. If I won the national, it would be the pinnacle of my career so far, without a shadow of a doubt.”
The Gloucestershire native will appear in tomorrow’s (10 April) race riding 9/2 favourite Cloth Cap, named after the piece of headwear his grandfather wore when he won the coveted event 62 years ago.
Scudamore has described Cloth Cap as a ‘revelation,’ having won the Ladbrokes Cup with the horse last year.