The battle for the Irish Trainers title goes on at pace, with Gordon Elliott taking a valuable handicap hurdle whilst Willie Mullins took the 1-2 in the Mares’ Final and then so nearly the Ryanair Gold Cup before Yorkhill’s wild ride proved too much to overcome. That said, it was probably a decent day outside of that reverse for Mullins although it’s all to play for once again on Irish Grand National day between the two. Being a commentator is a difficult job at the best of times. Tons of names, the hustle and bustle of a big handicap chase, unseats, refusals and falls everywhere and all with the pressure of giving accurate information to the country. Owners silks are usually disincentive too, but when there’s one or more from the same yard it can be tough.
Now try 14 horses, all with the same distinctive body but for different caps, several of which have never been used before. Poor Dessie Scahill needs a lot of credit today calling the Irish Grand National (5.00) given that Gigginstown House Stud have 14 going for glory today – yes 14 – in a bid to retain the third time.
The best chance of theirs might just be Tiger Roll, who would also give Gordon Elliott a huge chance of taking the Irish trainers title for the first time. A former Triumph Hurdle winner, he has been transformed by Elliott into a crack stating chaser and his romp over Stellar Notion (who was fourth in the Paddy Power Chase and didn’t take to the Grand National) in the Munster National came out of the blue when sent off 20/1. It’s interesting to note that was his first run in a double figure field for over a year over fences and easily the best performance he had given over the bigger obstacles to that point. Perhaps it shouldn’t be a surprise that he matched that level of form once again when he took apart a strong field in the National Hunt Chase at the Festival, once again travelling with aplomb, before eventually winning quite easily in a race where contender Haymount was a respectable third and horses with Graded form filled the first five places with the next four home being rated 146, 145, 146, and 143. Tiger Roll is rated 151, high for an Irish National contender, but 11-2 is not a welter burden and Donagh Meyler gets to take three pounds off as well. A reasonable surface also makes him attractive.
This has been one hell of a season for JP McManus, who has just three in here compared to 14 for Gigginstown but one of them with a serious, serious chance on all known form. It was a strong edition of the Paddy Power Chase that Minella Foru won in 2015, and he’s had just one run since, presumably to gear him at an attempt here. That run was entirely satisfactory and he arrives here fresh from that, making him a very attractive option based on that Paddy Power win. He had Ucello Conti, since placed in many top handicap chases, back in second and last year’s fourth Folsom Blue more well beaten in third whilst Gilgamboa, then fourth in the National, was well beaten in fourth. A mark of 146 is entirely reasonable given how unexposed he is at this trip and he carried only 10-11, a perfect racing weight. He appears to have gone under the radar and makes a lot of appeal.
Favourite Our Duke holds a fine chance if he handles the hustle and bustle of this big field whilst jumping better, something he did manage to do when second to Disko at Leopardstown on just his third chasing start. That he managed to beat Disko and Coney Island despite hitting every fence of note art Leopardstown over shows he is a horse of serious potential and plenty of respect is needed although he has now become short.
Fletchers Flyer, a winner over 3m6f at Punchestown last year, is a big raiding threat for Britain having shaped well in the Reynoldstown at Ascot. Abolitionist found only Empire of Dirt too good in the Troytown and then won the Leinster National, so is a big player here. So too is Noble Endeavour, the winner of the Paddy Power Chase this year who was third in the Ultima at Cheltenham. The worry for him however, is that he cannot be called unexposed by any means.
For preview and tips for the rest of the Fairyhouse card please join us as a Free Member.
Advice – Irish Grand National
NOTE: Coral and Paddy Power are 6 places but 1/5 the odds; Skybet will go ¼ for those 6 places, but with shorter prices obviously)
1 pt each/way Minella Foru (14/1 general, 12/1 Skybet)
1 pt each/way Tiger Roll (16/1 Paddy Power, 14/1 Coral)