With no stand out contender like Tiger Roll at Aintree, Ireland’s Grand National looks a difficult heat to solve, but there are some strong trends to help. Weight has been hugely significant with only two animals in the last two decades carrying more than
10-13, and in the same period younger contenders have had the best of the argument, with only 3 animals older than 9 getting their head in front. Favourites have a poor record in the race, and 13 of the last 16 winners have been returned at a double digit price. Stamina is obviously important, and only one of the last 16 winners hadn’t registered a victory over at least 3 miles. Racing for 3m5f with the throttle out, demands maximum fitness, so it’s not surprising that 15 of the last 16 winners had raced within the previous two months, but interestingly, only 2 of them had won last time out. There are no multiple winning trainers represented on Monday, but Ted Walsh, who won with the 7yo Comanche Court in 2000, will be hoping that another animal of the same age, Any Second Now, can land him win number two.
A winner of 2 of his 4 Hurdle races, including at Grade2 level, the son of Oscar has been taken along very steadily in his chasing career, by his Uber shrewd connections , and it wasn’t until the 10th time of asking, that he got his head in front, and that was in the prestigious, and hugely competitive Kim Muir at The Cheltenham Festival last time out. Racing off a mark of 143 he took it up after the last and stayed on stoutly up the hill to win the 23 runner 3m 2f contest by 3 3/4 lengths. He actually races off a one pound lower mark in Mondays early closing event, and looks very attractively weighted
on 11-0. Bred by JP’s Missus, Noreen, I’m sure the McManus’s would like nothing more than to add to their 2 previous wins in the Irish National (Butlers Cabin 2007, Shuthefrontdoor 2014) with their home bred, Any Second Now.
Mind you, Team McManus have another interesting looking contender in the Philip Hobbs trained 7yo Novice, Jerry’s Back. A winner of an Irish PTP, he won his first two Hurdle races after joining the Somerset trainer as a 4yo, but suffered a setback and was off the course for 601 days. He won a Class4 Bangor Chase, (2m4 1/2f Soft) last December at odds of 50/1, and stepped up substantially in Class to Grade 2 level for his next 2 races, acquitted himself well, finishing 2nd on both occasions. He was sent off a not unfancied 16/1 shot for The 4miles National Hunt Chase at Cheltenham last time, and despite a very troubled passage, finished 3rd, albeit at a distance of 47 lengths. I feel that we have yet to see the best of Jerry’s Back, and if he really stays Monday’ trip, could be interesting with his nice racing weight of 10-9, and could add to the decent record of English trained runners in the race.
Jessica Harrington won 2 years ago and will be hoping to do so for a second time with her gallant Aintree runner up, Magic of Light. The 8yo races off a 2lbs lower mark giving him a racing weight of 10-13 and if fully recovered from his Aintree exertions has to be firmly in the picture.
Paddy (Dawn Run) Mullins, won the race 4 times, but surprisingly, son Willie, has yet to score. Mobhanded at the time of writing, Willie’s best chances would seem to lie with Pairofbrowneyes and Total Recall. The former was sent off the 15/2 favourite for last year’s renewal off a mark of 146, but got no further than the 5th fence. However he has been brought along quietly since, and won the valuable Leinster National, (3miles yielding to soft) 44 days ago off 146, staying on strongly at the finish, and he gets into Monday’s heat on the same mark. Last year’s mishap was his only fall in 21 races over fences, and if the son of Luso gets Monday’s trip, and the signs are positive, he will be a danger to all.
Total Recall has won 3 of his 13 starts, including the 2017 running of Newbury’s big Handicap, The Ladbroke Trophy, (was The Hennessy). Sent off the 7/1 Fav for last year’s Aintree Spectacular, he didn’t enjoy the experience and was pulled up before two out, and 11 days later was again pulled up in The Punchestown Gold Cup. However 251 days later, making his seasonal debut on New Years Day, he ran respectably to finish 2nd to subsequent Gold Cup Hero, Al Boum Photo, and 19 days later finished a decent 3rd in a Thurles Grade2, a race he might have won but for making a dreadful mistake at the last.
Winning course form is always an asset, and the Liam Cusack trained 9yo Snugsborough Benny was quite impressive when easily landing a 3miles Fairyhouse Chase 68 days ago, running on strongly at the finish. At home in a large field of handicappers, he won a 20 runner Handicap Chase at The Galway Festival in August,(2m6 1/2f Soft) coming through the field, and staying on strongly to lead near the finish. A son of Beneficial, out of a Saddlers Hall mare, he comes from a good NH family. His full brother, the year younger Snugsborough Hall, has won his last 2 races and looked a stayer when keeping on strongly to finish 2nd over 3m2f in a Punchestown Handicap last December. One can never be sure, but the signs from Snugsborough Benny’s pedigree, and style of racing, strongly suggest that he will stay, and might even improve for Monday’s trip. On a mark of 145 he is definitely one to be interested in.
Selection. : Any Second Now
EW. : Snugsborough Benny. Pairofbrowneyes.