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Katie Walsh to ride Panther Claw in Irish Grand National

Updated: Sunday, 31 Mar 2013 11:01 | Comments

Panther Claw wins in Punchestown in January
Panther Claw wins in Punchestown in January

Rapid progress made recently by Panther Claw has seen the Paul Nolan-trained gelding book a spot in Monday's Ladbrokes Irish Grand National at Fairyhouse.

The seven-year-old relishes heavy ground and a real test of stamina, and Nolan has booked Katie Walsh with Davy Russell unable to consider him for the ride due to his light weight.

Russell instead partners Panther Claw's stablemate, Sweeney Tunes, while Nolan also runs the outsider Carloswayback.

"If someone had said to me a couple of months ago Panther Claw would be running in an Irish National I'd have asked them what they were on but he's improved and relishes testing conditions," said Nolan.

"The trip shouldn't be an issue but you never know until you try. He has a lovely light weight and hopefully he can give Katie Walsh a nice spin.

"Sweeney Tunes has got the class but also has the weight. I wouldn't have minded it to dry up a bit as he's a nice moving horse but he won't get it.

"Again there's a question mark over the trip but nobody knows what will stay and he deserves to take his chance, he's an improving novice and won his Grade Two the last day.

"Davy's picked him and I hope he's right.

"Carlos looked a nice horse in his younger days but he's been a savage disappointment. He's got a rating that allows him to run here so the lads wanted to let him take his chance.

"He could win or be pulled up, that's just him."

Despite owners Gigginstown House Stud running five, Russell's choice effectively boiled down to Sweeney Tunes versus Dessie Hughes' Magnanimity, who will now be ridden by man-of-the-moment Bryan Cooper.

"It was very hard picking between the five (Gigginstown horses) but in the end it realistically came down to the weight which meant it was either Sweeney Tunes or Magnanimity, and really it was a toss of a coin between them," said Russell.

"Magnanimity might possibly want a bit nicer ground."

Another Gigginstown representative is Gordon Elliott's Romanesco, third under Nina Carberry in the Kim Muir at Cheltenham.

He will be ridden by Danny Mullins, who said: "I've been talking to Nina Carberry about him and she said he gave her a good feel at Cheltenham.

"He's run in a few big handicaps this year and run well.

"It's a long way round and you never know, there's plenty of runners and it will be great to have a ride - he must have a bit of a chance."

Noel Meade runs both Muirhead and Cross Appeal but both would prefer better ground.

"Muirhead ran OK last time and although it's an extreme trip, I don't think the distance will be a problem.

“The biggest worry for him is the ground. If it's drying out, on fresh ground on Monday it would be OK, but he does need it to dry up," said Meade.

"Cross Appeal is in good form too but the ground is the thing with him, too. He twinged his back and hasn't been 100% himself but I'm a lot happier with him. He just could do with it drying out."

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