Katie Walsh chasing another Grand National

MELBOURNE Aug 18 2016

Irish rider Katie Walsh remembers her first trip to Australia well and is hoping her second is just as lucrative.

The 31-year-old is a star attraction at Sunday's Ballarat meeting which features six jumps races including the Grand National Steeplechase.

In 2008 Walsh joined Nina Carberry, Shane Jackson and Alain Cawley in a series of jumps races in Adelaide and Melbourne.

"I got drawn on a couple of Patrick Payne's and had a couple of winners and a second, so I had a great experience," she said.

This year, Walsh follows her brother Ruby who rode Bashboy to win the 2015 Grand National while she will ride last-start Sandown winner I'll'ava'alf in Sunday's feature.

"A Grand National, no matter where it is, would be lovely to have on your CV," Walsh said.

"It's a lovely opportunity to come and ride and Ruby had a great trip last year and he was able to win it.

"Hopefully I'll have the same sort of trip. So long as I come out of the trip safe and sound I'll be happy."

Walsh captains an Irish team which also includes Australian-based Irish riders John Allen, Shane Jackson and Martin Kelly in a three-race series against Australian jockeys Steven Pateman, Brad McLean, Paul Hamblin and Braidon Small.

With 200 wins as a National Hunt jockey in a career of almost 15 years, Walsh says her career is in its twilight.

She has been relatively lucky with injuries - a broken collarbone, a broken ankle and a couple of concussions - and would like to get out of jumps racing relatively unscathed.

But she said she wouldn't change anything, having had a great career highlighted by her win in the Irish Grand National Steeplechase on Thunder And Roses and a placing aboard Seabass in one of the world's toughest races, England's Grand National Steeplechase at Aintree.

"It's not for everybody but it's something I absolutely love," Walsh said.

"Not every girl wants to grow up being in the army and not every little girl wants to be a National Hunt jockey, but I do.

"There's a good few girls that ride over the jumps, not as many as the boys naturally, but I find the opportunities are fantastic at home if you're good enough to get the job done."

By Craig Brennan - AAP

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