Irish Grand National Tips 3m5f Fairyhouse Easter Monday
Last week’s selection Don Cossack did us proud in the Gold Cup. In total contrast to his run in the King George, where he never seemed comfortable on the track, he travelled like a dream, and despite the fall of Cue Card at the third last, to this observer the result was never in doubt. He is clearly one of the best winners since Best Mate completed his three timer in 2004, and in the hands of master trainer Elliott, must have every prospect of bringing off the double next March. With winners rated lower than 143 and carrying weights less than 11st in all recent renewals of the Irish Grand National it is unlikely that Easter Monday’s showpiece will feature any future Gold Cup winners but who knows!
As well as the weight factor being of serious significance, winning form over at least three miles has been a prerequisite, as has proven ability to perform going right handed. Seven and eight year olds have the best record although plenty of older animals, including the great Desert Orchid (won as a 11yo carrying 12st) have prevailed. Novice status is no bar to success with eighteen winning since 1974.
Gordon Elliott’s 8yo Mala Beach is set to carry 10st12lbs, has won a Grade2 three mile hurdle, and has won three times going right handed so has to enter calculations. In his most recent race, a Grade2 chase here at Fairyhouse (3m1f soft Feb 20 ) racing off a mark of 148, he was travelling like the winner when tipping up at the second last. A month earlier he had had a hard race when going down by 1 3/4L to My Murphy off a mark of 142 on desperate ground in the Thyestes Chase at Gowran park and now meets the winner on 1lb better terms. With only seven chases under his belt and likely to be suited on breeding by the step up in trip he looks one for the short list.
Noel Meade runs a full sister to Mala Beach, the 6yo mare Bonny Kate. Since unseating in a 2 1/2m chase at Down Royal last October she has put in three impressive front running performances winning at Fairyhouse, Punchestown, and Limerick and emphatically proved her stamina credentials for this in that Punchestown event over 3m4f on soft to heavy ground. She raced there off a mark of 125 and has more to do off a mark of 137 on Monday. However she is clearly progressive and the new mark gives her a nice racing weight of 9st13lbs.
Historically the Dreaper clan had an amazing record in this, with father Tom winning nine times and son Jim (pictured above) collecting on four occasions. Alas, the last time a Dreaper animal won, was Brown Lad’s victory in 1978, but are the good times about to roll again with the highly promising 7yo, Venitien De Mai? This recruit came from the Point to Point Field with an unblemished record and has now won the last two of his four races over the larger obstacles. He looked a bit special last time when comfortably disposing of stable mate and Aintree contender, Goonyella in the Leinster National (3m hvy) earlier this month off a mark of 127. Taking it up early on he travelled and jumped well forging clear from the last for a facile victory. This is a horse going places and with 9st13lbs in the plate on Monday looks well handicapped.
Jonjo O’Neill has won this twice in recent years with Shutthefrontdoor, and Butlers Cabin and fields a likely type again this year, the 7yo Another Hero. A winner of five of his seven races over hurdles he is two from two over fences and is already rated higher in this discipline. He won a 3m Ascot chase (gd-sft) in November off a mark of 125 and followed up at Ludlow off 131 in Febuary. Definitely one to keep in mind, particularly if the ground dries out.
Tony Martins 9yo Heathfield won over 3m6f at Punchestown last May off a mark of 120, and seemed to be in the process of putting two subsequent poor performances behind him, when racing with much more enthusiasm, until after the second last at Leopardstown in January, off a mark of133, over an inadequate 2m5f. Back up in trip and racing off the same mark on Monday any Market moves from this uber shrewd stable should be noted.
Selection : Venitien de Mai
E.W. : Another Hero