Bookies expect Ford to be favourite with punters

By JOHN McKEOWN, Daily Mail

Last updated at 16:29 04 April 2005

Carrie Ford will make history by becoming the first woman to ride the Grand National favourite, bookmakers have forecast.

Ford, who gave up race riding last year to focus on motherhood, has come out of retirement to partner Aintree specialist Forest Gunner, trained by her husband Richard, in Saturday's big race.

Her mount, twice a winner over the National fences already, was cut to 11-1 yesterday with leading bookmakers and Ladbrokes spokesman Balthazar Fabricius believes 'girl power' will lift Forest Gunner to the head of the market.

After her chance of being the first woman to win the race was dismissed by Grand National legend Ginger McCain, racing's battle of the sexes has hit the headlines.

Fabricius said: "The housewife vote is a significant one. To have a woman riding in the race will undoubtedly see money invested in Forest Gunner."

Ladbrokes have already taken a bet of £1,000 each way at 20-1 and Coral yesterday cut Forest Gunner from 14-1 to 11-1. Spokesman David Stevens said: "Forest Gunner could well go off favourite if the money continues to pour in." Betting turnover on the race is expected to reach £250m.