Gordon Elliott, last years winning trainer, leads the way with a whopping 34 entries out of 110 for the BoyleSports Irish Grand National which takes place at Fairyhouse racecourse on Easter Monday, April 22.
Having tasted glory in the race for the first-time last year, Elliott is going all guns blazing to repeat the feat again this year. His highest rated entry is The Storyteller, pulled up in the Ryanair Chase, who has been allocated the top-weight of 11-10. Last year’s winner General Principle has been allotted 10-08. Stable companion and last year’s fourth placed horse Folsom Blue, who finished 6th in last Saturday’s Midlands National at Uttoxeter, has been allotted 10-06. Delta Work, third in the Insurance Novices´ Chase at the Cheltenham Festival last Wednesday, is on 11-09 while Tiger Roll, successful in the 2018 Aintree Grand National and a four-time Cheltenham Festival hero also has 11-09. Winner of the BoyleSports National Trial Handicap Chase at Punchestown last month, Dounikos has 11-06.
In all, there are 110 entries for the €500,000 extravaganza, an increase of 13 on 2018 and
The General Manager of Fairyhouse Racecourse, Peter Roe said, “Once again we are delighted with the strength and depth of entries for this year’s BoyleSports Irish Grand National. There are numerous Grade 1 winners, Cheltenham festival winners and plenty of exciting novices among the entries. We are particularly delighted with the strong overseas entry up from 4 last year to 19 this year. I know the pleasure which Gordon Elliott felt when scoring his first win in the race last year was one, he will always treasure, and he will once again field a strong team in a bid to retain the trophy.”
Cheltenham Gold Cup winning trainer Willie Mullins isn’t shy with his entries either, as he has 15, led by Killultagh Vic with 11-09. Rathvinden, successful in the Grade 3 Bobbyjo Chase at Fairyhouse last month, is another potential runner as he has an early weight of 11-09, while the recent Naas winner Pairofbrowneyes has 11-05 and the novice Real Steel has 11-01. Isleofhopendreams was beaten by a head when runner-up in last year’s BoyleSports Irish Grand National and he is on 10-07.
Noel Meade has entered six with his Troytown Handicap Chase and Horse & Jockey Hotel Chase winner Tout Est Permis leading the way on 11-07. On the same mark, Sub Lieutenant, a narrow runner-up in that Thurles Grade 2 is the highest-weighted of Henry De Bromhead’s entry of three.
Successful in the race with Commanche Court in 2000, Ted Walsh is on the hunt for a second win with Any Second Now (11-00) which was one of the Irish-trained heroes at the Cheltenham Festival last week when landing the Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup Amateur Riders´ Handicap Chase. Paul Nolan’s gallant Cheltenham second Discorama has been given 10-13. He ran a big race in the Grade 1 Drinmore Novice Chase at Fairyhouse in December.
Slowmotion (10-04) is among Joseph O’Brien’s entry of six while Jessica Harrington, a winner with Our Duke in 2017, has made four entries, including her Dublin Racing Festival winner Whisperinthebreeze on 10-03. Impressive course winner Snugsborough Benny on 10-09 is an interesting entry for Liam Cusack and another recent scorer catching the eye is the Enda Bolger-trained Auvergnat (10-07), one of the big winners at the Leopardstown Christmas Festival last year. Trainer Declan Queally landed the Tetratema Cup Hunters Chase at Gowran Park last month with Fenno’s Storm and the eight-year-old has been given an initial handicap mark of 130 which sees him on 09-08.
Of the 19 British-trained entries, the 2016 RSA Chase winner Blaklion (11-01) could have his first start for new trainer Philip Kirby who has also entered Little Bruce (09-08) which was a wide-margin winner last time out. Vintage Clouds (10-09) took second spot and Big River (10-03) was fourth in the Ultima Handicap Chase on the opening day of the Cheltenham Festival and could represent Sue Smith and Lucinda Russell respectively. The David Pipe-trained Ramses De Teillee, runner-up in the Welsh Grand National in December, has been given 11-02.
As he bids to win the race for the third time, Jonjo O’Neill has entered both Minella Rocco (10-12) and Cloth Cap, the winner of his last two starts, on 09-11 and another that could be doubly represented is Philip Hobbs who has entered his Cheltenham Festival third Jerrysback (10-09) and No Comment (10-00) for owner JP McManus. Neill Mulholland has put three in the race with his recent Newbury winner Carole’s Destrier on 10-05.
Head of Communications at BoyleSports Leon Blanche said, “We are thrilled once again this year to be sponsoring the BoyleSports Irish Grand National and with a pot of €500,000 up for grabs at Fairyhouse on Easter Monday, there’s no doubt every trainer will throw the kitchen sink at what is the showpiece event of the Irish National Hunt calendar.”
“Willie Mullins has finally broken his Cheltenham Gold Cup hoodoo but the BoyleSports Irish Grand National still eludes him, so it’s no surprise to see the likes of recent Bobbyjo winner Rathvinden, Pairofbrowneyes and Isleofhopendreams amongst his potential candidates this year. The latter got to within a head of victory last year so it’ll be fascinating to see if Willie can go one better this time round.”