Katie Walsh handed National chance on Vesper Bell

LIVERPOOL, England Sat Apr 5, 2014 5:38am EDT

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LIVERPOOL, England (Reuters) - Irish amateur Katie Walsh has been handed the ride on outsider Vesper Bell in Saturday's Grand National at Aintree after injury ruled out Mikey Fogarty.

Fogarty fractured two vertebrae in his back in a fall in the Topham Chase on Friday.

Walsh, the daughter of Grand National-winning trainer Ted Walsh and sister of leading rider and twice winner Ruby Walsh, has gone the nearest of any female jockey to winning the famous steeplechase.

She finished third on Seabass in 2012 and Ireland's champion trainer Willie Mullins believes Vesper Bell has a chance at glory despite being one of the outsiders at odds of around 66-1 in the 40-strong field.

"Few, if any of the experts appear to give Vesper Bell any chance, I think he's probably one of the better longshots in the race," Mullins, successful with Hedgehunter in 2005, told the Racing Post newspaper.

Katie will not be competing against her brother with Ruby recovering from a broken arm sustained at last month's Cheltenham Festival.

The 167th Grand National starts at 1515 GMT.

(Reporting by Justin Palmer; Editing by John O'Brien)

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