Ruby Walsh: Aintree was great, and Punchestown should be equally entertaining

Ruby looks back at a great week of racing at Aintree, and ahead to Punchestown, a meeting that could be key in the Champion Trainer battle...

The Grand National at Aintree was a great race to watch. It had a bit of everything – thrills, spills and drama all the way to the wining line, as it should be in a National.

The winner, Tiger Roll, was very good and Davy Russell was great on him, while David Mullins also got a great tune out of the runner-up Pleasant Company.

In retrospect, it seems as if we all ignored the obvious thing: Tiger Roll’s form. We were all a bit too busy worrying about his jumping. It was a great performance and he was a deserved winner.

Roll over to for the latest Horse Racing betting

It looks now like Pleasant Company’s mistake in this race last year cost him a lot more than first suspected. But he jumped superbly for David all the way, and rallied gamely on the run-in – or perhaps he just finished less slowly than Tiger Roll! Still, there was nothing more David could have done – he just needed Tiger Roll to slow down a few strides earlier.

Overall, the Irish had a good run in the race, which is a reflection of the form shown at Cheltenham. Jump racing in Ireland is in rude health. But everything is cyclical, and the wheel will surely turn towards the UK eventually.

Elsewhere at Aintree, Terrefort was very good. He really impressed me. As did Identity Thief and L’ami Serge, who picked a great day to deliver. All things considered, it was very good racing, albeit somewhat lacking in Irish horses.

Still, Nicky Henderson and Paul Nicholls had their horses in great form, and the only downside for me was that I wasn’t out there riding.


In the race for the Champion Trainer gong, Willie Mullins pulled back a bit of ground on Gordon Elliott, but even going into Punchestown it’s a big ask. Over five days Willie would need to outdo Gordon by about 100k per diem to catch him.

That’s a lot of money, so Willie’s going to need a fair bit of luck – place-money could end up being almost as important as win-money. That could be a huge theme throughout next week. The Bumpers will play a huge part as well.

The big guns are out on Tuesday, with Douvan, Un De Sceaux and maybe Min in the Champion Chase.

In the Gold Cup, you’re looking at Killultagh Vic, Djakadam and maybe Bellshill. There will be lot of to-ing and fro-ing, and it will all make for a great week of racing.

Willie’s horses are geared to peak from Christmas onwards, which runs through to Punchestown. So Willie’s are ready to go, and this is a meeting that’s factored into his calculations.

Head over to for the latest Horse Racing odds