/ Racing

Hedgehunter one to beat says Walsh

Updated: Thursday, 14 Jun 2007 16:25

Ted Walsh: Hedgehunter is the one to beat at Aintree
Ted Walsh: Hedgehunter is the one to beat at Aintree

Ted Walsh believes it will take something special for his Grand National duo to lower the colours of last year's winner Hedgehunter, who will be ridden by his son Ruby.

Walsh senior saddles Rince Ri and Irish National runner-up Jack High in the John Smith's-sponsored feature at Aintree, with David Casey and Andrew McNamara pencilled in to ride the pair respectively.

The latter was last seen defeating Nil Desperandum by two and a half lengths at Down Royal in March, while 13-year-old Rince Ri boasts a proud record of 12 victories over obstacles.

Both are reported in grand order ahead of the four-mile-four-furlong hike, with Walsh, who was responsible for heavily-backed Papillon winning the National six years ago, tentatively nominating Rince Ri as being his best chance of Aintree glory.

But even though Hedgehunter must carry a welter burden on the back of his admirable second place behind War Of Attrition in the Cheltenham Gold Cup, the Kildare handler acknowledged that Willie Mullins' charge will take some pegging back over the Aintree fences.

He said: "Jack High's in good order and there's no problems, so is Rince Ri. I think they've both got an outside chance. If I was still a jockey, I think I'd rather ride Rince Ri, who is a grand leaper and an Aintree type of horse.

"Rince Ri is a classy horse and would be every bit as good as him (Papillon) but he hasn't won a race for a couple of years and is probably in the twilight of his career.    

"I don't think they can (beat Hedgehunter) but it's not like the Gold Cup because it's a wide-open race."

"Fifty-to-one shots and 66-1 shots win at Aintree that don't win in other races. Everybody who lines up has a chance of winning the National but Hedgehunter, even with 11(st) 12(lb) is the one they all have to beat," Walsh told At The Races.