RUBY Walsh is looking forward to partnering Kemboy for only the second time in tomorrow’s Betway Bowl at Aintree – the day one highlight of the Grand National meeting.
The Voix Du Nord gelding was the shortest priced of four runners in last month’s Cheltenham Gold Cup for Willie Mullins, but unseated the trainer’s nephew David after the very first fence at Prestbury Park.
The seven-year-old returned to Ireland none the worse and travels to Merseyside in a bid to provide Mullins with a second victory in the race after he struck gold with the popular Florida Pearl in 2002.
Walsh has not ridden Kemboy on a racecourse since he made a winning Irish debut in a Limerick maiden hurdle in December 2016, but is positive about his chances on Thursday.
“His form heading into Cheltenham was rock solid. He was very good in Leopardstown at Christmas, he won the Clonmel Oil and carried top-weight to win a novice handicap in Punchestown at the backend of last season. He’s an improving horse,” said Walsh.
“I don’t know if he over jumped or knuckled over at the back of the first fence in the Gold Cup. It’s quite hard to see it on the replays, but he was a bit of distance from the back of the fence, which makes you think it maybe wasn’t the jump that got him.
“He’s come out of Cheltenham well – he’s fresh and seems to be in great order.
“He didn’t have the race in Cheltenham that Bristol De Mai and Clan Des Obeaux had, Road To Respect ran a really good race in the Ryanair and Balko Des Flos has probably struggled this season to recapture the form he had last year.
“Elegant Escape is the other runner. He won the Welsh Grand National and ran OK in the Gold Cup.
“It is a good renewal, but I think Aintree will really suit Kemboy and he seems to be in good form.”
The Nigel Twiston-Davies-trained Bristol De Mai filled the runner-up spot behind Might Bite in this Grade One contest 12 months ago – and the dual Betfair Chase hero returns at the top of his game after finishing a creditable third in the Gold Cup.
Sandymount Duke has become the latest horse to be ruled out of the Randox Health Grand National on Saturday.
Despite being a 100-1 outsider, the 10-year-old has attracted plenty of media attention in the lead up to the world’s most famous steeplechase as he carries the colours of Rolling Stones guitarist Ronnie Wood.
However trainer Jessica Harrington confirmed that Sandymount Duke will not making the trip across the Irish Sea after suffering a knock.
Meanwhile the going on the National course is now good to soft, soft in places, following the latest rain at Aintree.