Fairyhouse on an Easter Monday must mean the Irish National. For years, this was a legendary race in which the finish appeared to be fought out amongst an invasion of spectators. Of late it has become an excellent guide to the Aintree Grand National, a benefit event for staying novice chasers, and the private property of Michael O’Leary’s Gigginstown team. Should we expect anything different this year?
Well O’Leary sets a poser for us and commentators alike by running 14 of the entries. If we trust first jockey Bryan Cooper then the novice General Principle looks the one to beat.
We’re not sure he has done enough to prove he stays and prefer our Aintree tip Thunder and Roses of the Gigginstown massed ranks. He got no further than the 9th fence at Aintree before the jockey was unluckily knocked out of the saddle by a loose horse. He had been showing signs of returning to the form that saw him win this 2 years ago, and represents a good each way bet at the long odds on offer.
Novices head the market and Our Duke comes from an in-form team. For all that he has ability, he looks high in the weights being only 1lb below the very useful Noble Endeavour.
Novices look more competitively represented by those who ran in the 4 miler at Cheltenham. The winner there Tiger Roll is indeed on a roll, but an 8lb rise might just see him off. The two Willie Mullins trained runners behind him that day, Haymount and Arbre de Vie look weighted to play more of a part. Whilst we like Arbre de Vie, Ruby Walsh has chosen Haymount and that could be significant.
This horse showed fast finishing stamina at Cheltenham having been ridden with more constraint, and he could provide his trainer with just the boost he needs in his ongoing battle with Gordon Elliott for the trainers title.
Bless The Wings could be Elliott’s best chance, but more interesting are the tactics of owner JP McManus, who has withdrawn a runner to ensure that another of his entries, Oscar Knight, squeezes in at bottom weight. That is a hint well worth taking note of.
From a long-list of Oscar Knight, Haymount, Thunder & Roses and General Principle, we will rely on the novice appeal of Haymount, and the been-there-done-it badge worn by Thunder & Roses.
Recommendations: Haymount (1700 Fairyhouse) 12/1 to win, Bet 365, & Thunder & Roses, (1700 Fairyhouse) 33/1, Paddy Power & Skybet, each way to 6 places.
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