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National holding pic 2 (2011)

Grand National: more than £150 million expecting to be bet on race

  PICTURE: Edward Whitaker (  

Bookies reckon punters will latch on to Seabass

FRIDAY may have been Ladies' Day at Aintree but the bookmakers reckon it could be on Saturday that girl power comes to the fore on Merseyside.

More than £150 million is expected to be gambled on the John Smith's Grand National, with a significant percentage of that expected to go on Seabass whose rider Katie Walsh will be aiming to become the first woman to ride the winner of the world's most famous race.

Last year the duo finished third and the ten-year-old's trainer, Walsh's father Ted, said: "After he took so well to the place a year ago, it was always the plan for Seabass to come back and try again.

"He was on the improve last year and I think he's every bit as good as he was then, but whether he is better I don't know and he is 5lb higher in the ratings."

Such is the strength in depth from the remarkable Walsh family that William Hill offer just 33-1 that Katie, and brother Ruby, finish first and second in the National, and 40-1 that a Walsh is connected with the first three home - Ted trains Colbert Station and Seabass.

William Hill PR director Kate Miller said: "This is by far the biggest betting race of the whole year, and we are expecting to take around £25 million on the Grand National. There is always a terrific story around the National winner, but surely none would match the one that would follow a win for Seabass and Katie Walsh and a first female-ridden winner of this famous race.

"The swell of support appears to be building for Katie Walsh, it would be foolhardy to try and second-guess the public in the Grand National, as the oddest gambles spring-up, but it appears that Seabass will go off favourite.''

A survey carried by Coral found that 65 per cent of the adult population of Britain intend to place a bet on the National and they too reckon Seabass, who can be backed at 9-1 on the eve of the race, will be popular.

Head of PR David Stevens said: "As always, we will be running scared of several runners by the time the race begins, and this year we expect Seabass, third last year, to be extremely popular, as he is ridden by Katie Walsh, who is bidding to become the first female jockey to win the race. In fact a win for the pair would be one of the most costly of all time for bookies, with millions paid out to Seabass backers."

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