VICTORY for a female rider in the Grand National is only a matter of time, according to 20-times champion jockey AP McCoy.
He was speaking after Katie Walsh – sister of McCoy’s great friend and rival Ruby – won Monday’s Irish National after guiding Thunder And Roses to a famous victory at Fairyhouse for trainer Sandra Hughes.
However, Walsh is still without a guaranteed ride for Saturday’s Crabbies-sponsored showpiece at Aintree – her intended mount Broadway Buffalo, trained by David Pipe, still needs five horses to pull out to make the 40-runner cut.
Even though Jenny Pitman, Venetia Williams and Yorkshire’s Sue Smith have saddled the winner of the National, no female rider has won the race since Charlotte Brew first attempted the feat in 1977, the year Red Rum won the race for a third time.
Coincidentally, Walsh has the best record of any female jockey in the race – she was third in 2012 aboard Seabass, who was trained by her father, Ted.
She now has an anxious wait to see if she can join Nina Carberry in this year’s line-up after the latter was booked to ride First Lieutenant.
However, the soon-to-retire McCoy has no doubts about the ability of a clutch of female riders.
Speaking to Leeds-based William Hill Radio ahead of his big race ride on Shutthefrontdoor, he said: “There’s more female jockeys competing now, the likes of Nina Carberry, Katie Walsh and Lucy Alexander.
“They are three to name who have done well over the jumps, so I think it’s only a matter of time before a woman wins the Grand National.
“I think they are very capable, those three in particular, and there’s no reason they can’t win the Grand National if they get on the right horse.”
William Hill bookmakers spokesman Jon Ivan-Duke offered odds of 6-1 on a female jockey winning the National by 2020.
North Yorkshire jockey Brian Hughes – now on the 96-winner mark for the current campaign – will ride Baileys Concerto for Penrith trainer Dianne Sayer provided there is one withdrawal prior to final declarations.