Successful in a Clonmel point-to-point in February, 2004, for Tom Costello, Southern Vic made his debut under Rules for Ted Walsh when fourth in a maiden hurdle at Navan nine months later. He went on to record two victories at Leopardstown in his first season and finished his campaign with a creditable fifth in a Grade Two novice hurdle at Naas in February, 2005. He began his career over fences with a half-length defeat of Slim Pickings in a beginners chase at Galway in November of the same year. He followed up with a second in a Naas novice chase before netting the biggest success of his fledgling career, taking the Grade One Ascon/Rohon Novice Chase at Leopardstown’s Christmas meeting. Further glory came in the Grade Two Woodlands Park 100 Club Novice Chase at Naas in January, 2006, but he failed to justify favouritism over a shorter trip in the Grade One Dr P J Moriarty Novice Chase at Leopardstown the following month, coming home fifth. Southern Vic completed his season with a straightforward success in a novice event at Navan, but he would endure a tough campaign as a second season chaser, despite winning on his seasonal reappearance in a Grade Three chase at Naas in October. Sent off a warm order for the Troytown Handicap Chase at Navan at the end of November, Southern Vic came home fifth, but produced a better performance over the smaller obstacles at the same course when second to Celestial Wave in the Grade Two Tara Hurdle in mid-December. He made a quick reappearance 11 days later in the Grade One Lexus Chase at Leopardstown, finishing fifth behind The Listener, but his season was cut short with a crashing fall when carrying top-weight in the Thyestes Chase at Gowran Park in January, 2007, a tumble that would force him to miss the whole of the 2007/08 campaign. He finally returned to action when finishing down the field in a Naas handicap hurdle on October 25, 2008, and followed up with a sixth behind Catch Me in the Grade Two Lismullen Hurde at Navan on November 9. Sent over to Britain for the Listed totesport.com Becher Handicap Chase at Aintree on November 23, Southern Vic was travelling well over the National fences before unseating Richard McGrath at the Canal Turn. Two appearances in Grade Two races at Fairyhouse resulted in a good third over two miles and a furlong in the Normans Grove Chase on January 23 and a fourth behind Black Apalachi in the Bobbyjo Chase over a mile further on February 21. Southern Vic completed his John Smith’s Grand National preparation with a third behind Emma Jane and Florida Express in the Leinster National at Naas on March 14, when he wore blinkers for the first time in his career.
Race Record: Starts: 22; Wins: 7; 2nd: 3; 3rd: 2; Win & Place Prize Money: £135,096
Brenda Graham is the widow of legendary Belfast bookmaker Sean Graham, who established a large chain of betting shops throughout Northern Ireland and Scotland prior to his death in 1986 and was also well-known as a fearless on-course layer. The company, now principally run by Brenda’s sons, has since sold its Scottish operation to Morrisons bookmakers (now known as Scotbet), but is still a major player in Northern Ireland with 30 shops together with an on-course presence at the majority of Irish courses and Cheltenham in the UK. Brenda has a long association with horses, having owned the 1973 Irish Grand National winner Tartan Ace and Blue Cheek, who took the 1997 John Smith’s Foxhunter Chase. Brenda breeds horses and prefers to have only a few in training at any one time, with any outside purchases coming from Tom Costello. She also has several point-to-pointers with Gabe Mahon, who is based near Stratford and is the son of Blue Cheek’s trainer Jim.
John Smith's Grand National Record: No previous runners
Ted Walsh IRE
Born on April 14, 1950, at Fermoy in Co Cork and now based at Greenhills near Naas in Co Kildare, Ted Walsh is a racehorse trainer, journalist, and broadcaster with RTE and Channel 4. His father, Ruby, had a public house and kept a livery stable in Fermoy. In 1954 the Walsh family relocated to the United States, but came back to Ireland less than two years later, and Ruby rented a yard at Chapelizod. The Walshes later moved to a farm in Kill, Co Kildare, which Ted has now extended to 60 acres. Walsh was Irish champion amateur jockey on 11 occasions, and rode four Cheltenham Festival winners, including the 1979 Queen Mother Champion Chase on Hilly Way. Commanche Court, who Walsh selected, purchased and trained for owner Dermot Desmond, won the 1997 Triumph Hurdle and completed an amazing double in 2000 when winning the Irish National at Fairyhouse 16 days after Papillon landed the John Smith's Grand National at Aintree. Both horses were partnered by Ruby Walsh, who along with Jennifer, Ted Jnr and Katie, another successful rider, is one of Ted and Helen Walsh's four children. Ted Walsh's other training successes include the Betfred Gold Cup with Jack High in 2005 while Rince Ri won a number of good races for the stable including the Letheby & Christopher Chase at Cheltenham in 2002.
John Smith's Grand National Record: 1992 Roc De Prince (17th); 2000 PAPILLON (WON), 2001 Papillon (4th), 2006 Jack High (UR 15th), Rince Ri (Ref 27th), 2007 Jack High (Fell 6th)