Grand National glory for up-and-coming jockey would be cause for Sussex celebration

Tabitha Worsley is targeting the biggest success of her career at Aintree on Saturday as she bids to become the first female rider to win Britain’s most famous chase, the £1-million Randox Health Grand National.

Tabitha Worsley is ready for her big chance in the Grand National on Saturday / Picture: Getty
Tabitha Worsley is ready for her big chance in the Grand National on Saturday / Picture: Getty

Worsley, who predominantly rides for a number of Sussex-based trainers, including Nick Gifford, Diana Grissell and Andy Irvine, partners high-class chaser Sub Lieutenant in the four and a quarter-mile event live from Aintree at 5.15pm.

In a heartwarming story, Sub Lieutenant, formerly trained in Ireland by Henry De Bromhead, is trained by Worsley’s mother Georgie Howell, with the pair buying the 12-year-old for £50,000 in September 2020. The Brian Boru gelding, a 66/1 chance for Aintree glory, has shaped with plenty of promise in two starts for the pair, finishing fourth on both occasions at Ascot with both of those efforts coming in Listed company.

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Interestingly, Sub Lieutenant also boasts course form over the national fences, having finished second in the Topham Chase in 2019. For Worsley, a lifelong ambition of riding in the famous contest will be realised on Saturday and she is relishing the opportunity.

She said: “It’s so exciting for a little family like us to have a runner in the Grand National and we’re really looking forward to it. Sub Lieutenant is in great form at home. He’s a wild character, but is in great order. He’s just been cantering away this week and been having plenty of time out in the field.

“He has been round the Grand National fences before, finishing second in the Topham Chase at Aintree in 2019 and he has also schooled over Grand National-type fences in Lambourn recently. He jumped really well over those recently and if you could pick a horse to ride in the race given his jumping ability, he could be really high up the list.”

“To ride in the Grand National is a massive dream realised. You talk about the fact that you would love to ride in a Grand National one day, but I never thought when I left school at 18 that I would have a ride in the race. For that dream to become a reality is something very special. Me and mum [Georgie Howell, trainer] bought him for £50,000 last year and we never thought we would be able to afford him.

“A woman will ride a winner of the Grand National that day, it will definitely happen. However, if I cross the line in front, I won’t be thinking that I am the first woman to ride a winner of the Grand National, I’ll just be thinking Jesus Christ I’ve won the National! A woman will win the race, be it this year or in the future, but I don’t think it’s something we all think about. Racing is great in that it offers riders a level playing field between men and women. Whoever wins the Grand National, whether your male or female, it means everything.”

Worsley has struck up a good rapport with Rose Of Aghaboe this term who has won four starts for Sussex trainer Nick Gifford. Reflecting on her season, Worsley added: “I’m very pleased with how things have gone this year. Rose Of Aghaboe has been a star for me this season. Hopefully we’re not done with this season as we’re going to run at Cheltenham later this month. I’ve also struck up a good relationship with Nick, so hopefully the Grand National can be the icing on the cake.”

Latest Grand National betting from Betway4/1 Cloth Cap; 8/1 Burrows Saint; 10/1 Any Second Now, Minella Times; 11/1 Kimberlite Candy; 14/1 Discorama, Secret Reprieve; 16/1 The Storyteller; 18/1 Farclas, Magic Of Light; 20/1 Bristol De Mai, Potters Corner, Some Neck; 25/1 Milan Native; 28/1 Bar