Patrick Mullins: Riverside to cause Grand National shock at Fairyhouse
Published 28/03/2016 | 02:30
With Easter so close to Cheltenham and a rare chance to win the British trainers' championship, we haven't the usual battalion going to Fairyhouse - but it's always a fantastic spectacle. Today will be no different.
Watching 29 horses hurtling down towards the first fence in front of the stands is one of the most exciting sights in the world of racing, and our national showpiece regularly throws up a fairytale winner. Hopefully, my big-priced prediction pays dividends.
However, the opening Juvenile Hurdle (2.40) looks to be at the mercy of Aidan and Joseph O'Brien's Slowmotion, who, much like yesterday's comfortable Grade One winner Jer's Girl, was recently bought by JP McManus. It's great for the game to have Joseph in the training ranks, and it makes things even more competitive.
We run Royal Caviar and Babbling Stream in the Grade Two Novice Hurdle (3.15), but both face a stiff task with Sutton Place, very impressive in his two wins, likely to prove a tough nut to crack with the best available form.
Tarabiyn has been disappointing, so it's hard to have confidence in the Handicap Hurdle (3.50), but Isleofhopendreams won very well for us on his first ever run, and has a live chance.
He missed nearly two years with a problem but ran well at Navan over an inadequate trip, and the extra six furlongs will be a huge help. He's off 10st 1lb, very unusual for one of ours, and Ruby is not doing that weight for the good of his health. I hope he can justify him missing his breakfast.
It's great to see Dan Skelton coming over with Value At Risk in the Grade Two Hurdle (4.20). Young trainers like Dan, Harry Fry and Kerry Lee, who had a Grade One winner here yesterday, are starting to make the trip for these big races - and I'm amazed more trainers don't follow suit. But maybe we shouldn't complain.
I think the improving Gwencily Berbas will prevail, however. He ran well when third behind Arctic Fire in the Hatton's Grace, he's got the most progressive profile and has the tools to really trouble Dedigout. We've no runner in the big one, the Boylesports Irish Grand National (5.00), and it's a race we've never won. It has provided many magical moments but, personally, I think it's a race that needs to be looked at differently. In recent years it seems like if you don't have less than 10st 7lbs, you can't win.
Only three of the last 15 winners have carried more than 10st 7lbs, while no victor carried more than 11st, but the idea of a handicap is that every horse should have an equal chance. The statistics say you have little or no chance with a weight burden though.
With this in mind, the horse I like at a big price is the Troytown winner Riverside City for Gordon Elliott and Nina Carberry. Nina has won this race before, while Gordon's horses are in great form. He's a seven-year-old, he's got a nice weight and he's got the right owner, JP McManus, for a big handicap. He's won an Ulster National, stays the trip and ticks all the right boxes.
I think the extra weight will spoil the chances of Venitien De Mai and Cause Of Causes, but I do like Killer Crow - a horse we used to train. He didn't make the cut at Cheltenham and looks primed for a big run with Jack Kennedy claiming three pounds.
Bonny Kate is a novice but a great jumper, and I see her being placed - while Katie Walsh can back up her win last year with a good spin on Baie Des Iles for her husband, Ross, with brother Ruby close by on Bless The Wings.
Uranna hasn't sparkled for us over fences and the English raider Emily Gray, who twice beat Gitane De Berlais, will be difficult to beat in the Mares Chase (5.35), while I like the bottom weight Glenwood For Ever for Paul John Gilligan in the Novice Handicap Chase (6.10).
Rachael Blackmore won at Leopardstown over fences recently, and can go close again. My only ride of the day is in the last aboard Blow By Blow, who was very green first time out but improved to win in Navan, with the second home winning a maiden hurdle at Leopardstown since.
It's a competitive affair and I'd be very wary of both Sunni May and Death Duty, who won a Listed bumper at Navan before Christmas, but I'm hoping Blow by Blow has improved again and he can make the wait pay off.
3.15 Sutton Place
3.50 Isleofhopendreams (Nap)
4.20 Gwencily Berbas
5.00 1.Riverside City 2. Killer Crow 3. Bonny Kate 4. Baie Des Iles
5.35 Emily Gray
6.10 Glenwood For Ever
6.40 Blow By Blow