The Irish Grand National follows hot on the heels of the Aintree equivalent and always has a stacked field of horses who either missed out on the Aintree spectacular or have been plotted for months to arrive cherry ripe for the richest Jumps race in Ireland.
A bumper crowd is expected at the County Meath racecourse after coronavirus restrictions meant racegoers were not allowed to pack the grandstands for last year’s renewal when Freewheelin Dylan was a shock 150/1 winner.
Since the year 2000 only Our Duke has carried more than eleven stone to success in this contest and if that pattern is to continue a fair few at the top of the market can be discounted.
Time To Get Up won the 2021 Midlands National and has returned with excellent efforts in marathon handicaps in Britain. With few miles on the clock, he has all the qualities to win an Irish National and gets the vote. Gaillard du Mesnil got no luck at Cheltenham and has been beaten by L’Homme Presse, Galopin Des Champs and Bob Olinger in his last few races; however, he was not disgraced in any of those performances and the fact he is the chosen mount of Paul Townend speaks volumes about stable confidence. At 13/2, however, and with a big weight to carry it’s yet to be seen if he has what it takes to go all the way.
Henry De Bromhead’s Full Time Score is another lightly-raced chaser who also ticks plenty of the right boxes; and with Rachael Blackmore in the saddle, there’s a lot to like about this horse.
His performance last time out when beating Discorama by a length at this same track was impressive and the way he saw out his race indicated there would be no problem with this marathon trip. Still only an eight year old and very lightly raced he has the right profile for this contest and with Blackmore’s mount available at 4/1 he is a strong each-way selection.
Farclas is also on the shortlist with plenty of things to like about him. He was taken out of the Aintree Grand National and so connections will have high hopes he can justify that decision with a big performance here. Of the others, Death Duty was pulled up at Aintree last Saturday, Samcro was the same and Run Wild Fred fell and they’re all worth taking a look at ahead of tomorrow.
Runners and Odds
1. Franco de Port (Willie Mullins/ Jack Foley (5)) – 13/2
Good efforts in valuable staying handicaps the last twice, 15½ lengths fourth of 12 to Diol Ker in Leinster National at Naas (24.6f, heavy) 36 days ago. Big effort needed to defy top weight.
2. Battleoverdoyen (Gordon Elliott/ Pat Taaffe (7)) – 16/1
Eight wins from 19 NH runs. Little impact in competitive handicap company this season, well held in Topham at Aintree 10 days ago. Not sure to stay and hard to fancy.
3. Run Wild Fred (Gordon Elliott/ Rob James (7)) – 9/2
Very smart chaser who is much improved since fitted with blinkers, second in this last year (off 15 lb lower) before winning hot 3m Navan handicap in November. Good run in NH Chase at Cheltenham but fell early in the Grand National. Amateur won the Scottish version and is excellent value.
4. Gaillard du Mesnil (Willie Mullins/ Paul Townend) – 2/1
Runner-up in 2021 Ballymore Hurdle and placed again in the Broadway back at the Festival 33 days ago, not getting a fair shake of the dice. While he’s yet to win over fences he’s all class and has unfinished business as a stayer. Novices do well in this and he has a big shout on handicap debut.
5. Mount Ida (Gordon Elliott/ Davy Russell) – 6/1
Remarkable winner of the Kim Muir at last year’s Cheltenham Festival and has scored twice in mares’ races this term. Ran a stinker when fancied in Grade 2 back at Cheltenham though and got no further than the first at Aintree in cheekpieces 9 days ago.
6. Ronald Pump (Matthew Smith/ Liam McKenna (7)) – 6/1
Course winner. 9/1, good ½-length second of 12 to Diol Ker in Leinster National at Naas (24.6f, heavy) 36 days ago, sticking to task. Nudged up 5 lb but got to enter calculations.
7. Farclas (Gordon Elliott/ Shane Fitzgerald (5)) – 4/1
Has held his form really well in big-field handicaps, chasing home stablemate Run Wild Fred at Navan when last seen in November. Saved for this rather than Aintree (non-stayer there last year) and looks the pick of the Elliott battalion.
8. Early Doors (Joseph O’Brien/ J. J. Slevin) – 7/1
Useful hurdler/chaser (won the 2019 Martin Pipe and 2020 Galway Plate). 18¼ lengths fifth of 6 to Sizing Pottsie in Webster Cup Chase (40/1) at Navan 37 days ago. Might have a bigger effort in him if he stays.
9. Enjoy d’Allen (Ciaran Murphy/ Conor Orr) – 9/2
Dual chase winner last season (including here) and been holding his own in some big handicaps since, third in this off 6 lb lower 12 months ago. Bought by J.P.McManus ahead of a National tilt but got no further than the first at Aintree. Can’t be ignored.
10. Samcro (Gordon Elliott/ Niall Moore (7)) – 16/1
Dual Cheltenham Festival winner in his pomp but is a shadow of his former self these days, failing to see his races out following his May Killarney win, including in the Grand National 9 days ago. Another of the colossal Elliott challenge.
11. Diol Ker (Noel Meade/ Bryan Cooper) – 11/2
7/2, career best when winning 12-runner Leinster National handicap at Naas (24.6f, heavy) 36 days ago by ½ length from Ronald Pump, battling well. 10 lb higher now but shapes as if he’ll stay and got to be respected.
12. Screaming Colours (William Durkan/ Jamie Codd) – 7/1
Course winner and a remarkable success story over these past 2 years, both in terms of consistency and progressive form, improving again to win 18-runner Midlands National at Uttoxeter after 5 months off 30 days ago, easily coming clear. Big ask to back that up but it’s certainly possible.
13. Off You Go (Charles Brynes/ Aidan Coleman) – 13/2
Fair sixth in this last year after winning valuable Leopardstown handicap and presumably this has been the aim. Well held again behind Full Time Score here 68 days ago. Cheekpieces go on first time.
14. Death Duty (Gordon Elliott/ Sam Ewing) – 17/2
Grade 1 winner as a novice chaser and back to his best this season, winning Punchestown handicap in February before a good run behind younger rivals in handicap at the Cheltenham Festival. Going smoothly when unseating first Canal Turn in the National 9 days ago. Should stay and one to consider.
15. Max Flamingo (Francis Casey/ Denis O’Regan) – 4/1
Won a handicap hurdle at this meeting last year and off the mark over fences in 4-runner beginners event at Thurles (22f, good to soft) 30 days ago, cosily. Plenty of support in the betting for him for this in the meantime, looking just the type to go well if he stays. Interesting.
16. Fakir d’Alene (Gordon Elliott/ Harry Swan (7)) – 13/2
3 wins from 8 runs this season, making a good start over fences. Ran well in the Kim Muir at Cheltenham under this rider 32 days ago and one of the more likely winners from the Gordon Elliott team if he stays.
17. Velvet Elvis (Thomas Gibney/ Darragh O’Keeffe) – 13/2
Career best when winning 11-runner handicap chase (17/2) at Navan (24f, heavy) 37 days ago, well on top finish. Up 10 lb but longer trip will suit and interesting for 2012-winning stable.
18. School Boy Hours (Noel Meade/ Sean Flanagan) – 9/2
Plenty of good runs over fences before putting it all together on his return in hot Leopardstown handicap at Christmas. Not had a fair crack in either the Kim Muir or Grand National since and could figure if keeping the mistakes down.
19. Floueur (Gordon Elliott/ Jordan Gainford) – 7/1
No match for Galopin des Champs before opening chase account in 21f maiden here in January. Fine run behind Death Duty in Punchestown handicap next time but well held in Cheltenham Festival handicap 34 days ago (lost shoe). Stays and could bounce back with a big run.
20. Ten Ten (Philip Dempsey/ Mark Walsh) – 17/2
Good efforts in second completed starts this season, including in handicap hurdle at this course (19.8f, soft) 51 days ago, better placed than most. Should stay back over fences but others far more persuasive for all Walsh is up.
21. Lieutenant Command (Noel Meade/ Eoin Walsh (5)) – 15/2
Off the mark in maiden chase here (21f) in November. Better effort since and looked set to go close when unseating rider 2 out in Naas novice handicap 50 days ago. Still lightly raced and could have a bigger performance in him if he stays.
22. Aramax (Gordon Elliott/ Luke Dempsey) – 14/1
Former Fred Winter winner and a course winner but ran poorly in Munster National at Limerick when last seen in October, jumping none too fluently and well held. Plenty to prove on first start for 6 months.
23. Frontal Assault (Gordon Elliott/ Jack Kennedy) – 7/1
Dual hurdles winner shaping up well over fences before a poor run in the Kim Muir at Cheltenham 32 days ago. Should prove to be a stayer but needs a revival in change of headgear.
24. Time To Get Up (Jonjo O’Neill/ Robbie Power) – 9/2
Progressive novice chaser, readily landing the Midlands National at Uttoxeter. Interrupted campaign this term, but lots to like about his runs at Haydock and back again at Uttoxeter (first-time cheekpieces) the last twice. Well worth considering under rider with pretty good record in this.
25. Champagne Platinum (Enda Bolger/ Simon Torrens) – 15/2
Off the mark over fences at Navan (3m) in January. Didn’t jump great when well held behind Diol Ker in Leinster National at Naas 36 days ago. Headgear back on. Needs more.
26. Full Time Score (Henry de Bromhead/ Rachael Blackmore) – 4/1
Big step forward when landing 23.8f contest here 2 months ago (good form). Unexposed, not least as a stayer, and lots to like up in trip (top yard’s only runner in the race).
27. Mister Fogpatches (Pat Fahy/ Danny Mullins) – 6/1
Punchestown winner over 31f last spring having finished third in the Scottish National. Another good run in valuable handicaps in the Kim Muir 32 days ago and interesting in first-time cheekpieces.
28. Streets of Doyen (John McConnell/ Brian Hayes) – 33/1
Off the mark over fences at Galway last summer but has largely struggled since, including at Cheltenham 33 days ago, and this surely too tough in re-fitted cheekpieces.
29. Lord Lariat (Dermot McLoughlin/ Patrick O’Hanlon (7)) – 22/1
Course winner and useful chaser. Not disgraced behind Full Time Score here (4/1) 68 days ago but looks handicapped to the hilt up in trip.
30. Smoking Gun (Gordon Elliott/ Kevin Sexton) – 12/1
Best runs this season have been here, landing a good prize over C&D in November. Well held in the Kim Muir 32 days ago and has work to do.
31. Scoir Mear (Thomas Mullins/ Reserve)
Faded when going for repeat in Leinster National won by Diol Ker 36 days ago, that his first run over fences since last spring. Eighth in this last year but much lower in the weights this time round. RESERVE.
32. Definite Plan (Gordon Elliott/ Reserve)
Poor since winning 25f Cheltenham handicap chase in October, again looking devoid of confidence at times at Downpatrick 29 days ago, Tough to fancy. RESERVE.
33. Alfa Mix (Gavin Cromwell/ Reserve)
Dual winning chaser who has matched that form just once over fences. Pulled up in Leinster National 36 days ago and some feat if he were to break his duck over fences in this. Blinkers go on. RESERVE.
The Irish Grand National 2022 takes place at 5pm on Monday, April 18. It’s the big race on the third and final day of the Easter Festival at Fairyhouse.