Ahead of the Grand National 2021, Betway has teamed with former jockey and current Aintree Racecourse & Betway Ambassador Katie Walsh, to narrate the history of female jockeys in the Grand National.
The video opens with the statement that: “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.”
Walsh herself is classed as one of the most successful female riders ever achieving over 100 wins in the saddle starting in 2003 which race was won with horse Hannon, trained by her father, Ted. Over the years she continued to have success in Irish Grand National with Thunder And Roses.
In the video Walsh discloses: “I’d never heard of Charlotte Brew, who was the first female to take part in 1977. She was a 200/1 shot that day and got as far as the fourth-last. But more importantly, she’d opened the door. Eleven different women earned rides over the next 12 years, although only one of them – Geraldine Rees in 1982 – made it through the whole 4 ½ miles.
“Rosemary Henderson battered that in ‘94 when she finished fifth on her own horse at the age of 51, but it was another 11 years until we saw the next female.
“The first girl I actually remember having a crack was Carrie Ford in 2005. Ginger McCain said the race was “no place for a woman”, but she showed him by finishing fifth. Nina Carberry completed the course three times in a row between 2006 and 2011.
Since 2012 Walsh and Carberry became sisters-in-law the video states: “Between us, we carried the female flag in the National for more than a decade – though we never saw it like that. We were just doing something we absolutely loved and happened to be good enough to keep getting the opportunities. Nine finishes out of 12 ain’t bad.
In 2012 Walsh’s horse Seabass, trained by her father, was picked as favourite to win at Aintree Grand National recalling the event Walsh stated: “I thought that Seabass was in with a squeak when we turned for home, but to finish third was just unbelievable. I hadn’t a clue that it was the highest finish for a female until somebody told me afterwards – I was just delighted that it had all worked out.”
In December of 2018, the same year as her retirement from the sport, Walsh became a Betway brand ambassador, writing regular blogs for Betway Insider which gave her thoughts on upcoming meetings and racing industry news.
Since her retirement Katie has been selling horses, as well as assisting Ross in their Kildare yard.
The video ends with the following powerful 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.”