Niall Cronin’s BoyleSports Irish Grand National Preview
Spare a thought for Jerry Hannon as he calls his first BoyleSports Irish Grand National and has a dozen Gigginstown horses to differentiate by their caps.
Gigginstown let HRI look after their caps after declarations and they are usually sorted in racecard order as looks to the case again today.
Gordon Elliott has 12 runners, while Willie Mullins unleashes seven as he looks for a first win in the race. Just weeks after winning his first Gold Cup the champion trainer might tick off another major milestone.
The BoyleSports Irish Grand National has thrown up many great stories. Barry Geraghty won his local race when BoyleSports took over the sponsorship on Shutthefrontdoor, while Sandra Hughes won it the following year to emulate her late father Dessie with Thunder And Roses.
Few will ever forget the emotional success of Mouse Morris completing the Aintree/Fairyhouse double when Rogue Angel won in 2016 to follow Rule The World’s Aintree heroics.
A field of 30 go to post again and amongst all the big names that are represented, there is still any amount of brilliant stories that could emerge today.
The first of those will hopefully come on Monday morning and that Aine O’Connor is deemed fit to ride Auvergnat following her fall in the bumper yesterday.
The blue Gigginstown cap has often proved lucky and this corner hopes that is the case again as Davy Russell will be sticking that cap on his helmet before going out to partner Shattered Love.
The eight-year-old has plenty of weight to haul around but she is a Grade 1 winner who could prove reasonably well handicapped off 154.
A runner in the Gold Cup, Shattered Love never landed a blow over there and had to settle for ninth. That run came after she suffered sore shins at Christmas and then had a wind operation so there’s every chance she’ll strip fitter today after Gordon Elliott’s race against time to get her to Cheltenham.
This sort of extreme trip will be an unknown for most of the field and if the daughter of Yeats stays she might just have enough class to give a very good account of herself at 14/1.
Davy Russell will be bidding to follow Ruby Walsh in winning the English and Irish Grand National in the same year. Only Walsh (twice) has managed that feat in the last few decades.
Walsh rides the most fancied Mullins horse in the early betting. Burrows Saint certainly looks to lack a bit of experience but is handicapped accordingly and has just 10st8lbs. This is a race that often goes to an unexposed novice and Burrows Saint is certainly that.
Walsh’s father, Ted, must have a chance too with Cheltenham hero Any Second Now getting into the race off 11st. The reports are good that the son of Oscar came out of Cheltenham well and the trip shouldn’t be an issue here. The ground might just hinder his chances here under Mark Walsh.
The top weight Tout Est Permis is another six-year-old who has improved rapidly up the ranks this season and won the Kinloch Brae most recently. He was Ryanair Chase bound before Noel Meade opted to run Road To Respect there so Tout Est Permis comes here a fresh horse.
He earned a Gold Cup entry this year and it was thought that he could develop up to that level next year. He might be good enough to become the first top weighted winner since Flashing Steel, but others are preferred.
Joseph O’Brien throws a couple of darts at the board and enjoyed a double here yesterday. Arkwrisht was the last horse to sneak in and is just worth a small investment at a massive price. The ground looks to be gone for him but he would have gone close last year if not getting caught up in Bellshill’s wayward behaviour at the last.
The best story would be something like Snugsborough Benny winning for Liam Cusack. The course winner is sure to be popular at 14/1 as he does have a bit of class. There’s probably few secrets in his locker from the handicapper but with luck in running he can make the frame.
Cases can be made for so many but Shattered Love is the preference, Arkwrisht is the longshot and none of Tout Est Permis, Any Second Now or Burrows Saint would be a massive surprise.
*Prices correct at time of publication