Kiwi hoops give international flavour to all-jumps day

Three New Zealand-based jumps jockeys will add an international flavour to the Grand National Steeplechase meeting in Ballarat on Sunday, August 19.

Englishman Will Gordon and Shaun Phelan have already secured mounts in the $350,000 Grand National, while Aaron Kuru is looking for rides at the all-jumps meeting.

They follow in the footsteps of legendary Irish hoop Ruby Walsh and his sister Katie Walsh as overseas riders to make the trip to Sportsbet-Ballarat to contest the rich steeplechase.

Ruby Walsh won on champion Bashboy in 2015, but Katie had no luck the following year as part of an Australia v Ireland jockey challenge.

Gordon will ride I’ll’ava’alf, which finished fifth in the Grand National Steeple last year, and Phelan will have the reins on NZ galloper Monarch Chimes, which finished third in the Crisp Steeplechase at Sandown on Sunday.

Kuru rose to fame in June for his brilliant horsemanship in a steeplechase in New Zeland.

His mount Des De Jeu stumbled at the first jump, flipping Kuru out of the saddle.

However, Kuru managed to keep hold the reins, get back on board and go to win the race.

Ballarat Turf Club chief executive officer Lachlan McKenzie said it was exciting to have the Grand National attracting top riders from overseas.

“It’s the Melbourne Cup for the jumps fraternity. Their presence adds to an already prestigious day,” he said.