Ridge to take national plunge
Paul Nolan believes Alpha Ridge could prove well handicapped when he lines up in the Powers Whiskey Irish Grand National at Fairyhouse on Easter Monday.
The eight-year-old is still a maiden over fences after four starts but has filled the runner-up spot three times, most notably chasing home the high-class Pandorama in the Drinmore Novice Chase at Fairyhouse in December.
Nolan feels a three-month break since his last run has left his charge in rude health and he is looking forward to seeing how his charge gets on next week.
"Alpha Ridge will hopefully take his chance. He needs a few to come out but I'm sure enough will to make sure he gets a run," said Nolan.
"It looks as though he has a lenient enough mark compared to his hurdle rating, but we've made a bit of a mess of things with him this season.
"We ran him over two miles and six furlongs on his first run at Galway and he was just pipped into second.
"Then we ran him in the Drinmore at Fairyhouse in very heavy ground and there were only four finishers as most of them either pulled-up or fell.
"He jumped poorly in Leopardstown over Christmas and we pulled him out fairly quickly then in Naas thinking he would win and he just got beaten again.
"When you're running in really heavy ground like that, maybe we should have had more of a plan rather than running him twice in a month, so we're just hoping that hasn't taken too much out of him.
"We've given him a nice break, freshened him up and he looks a picture at the moment.
"There is no point just going for a novice race at this stage of the season so we'll have a crack at the National and that will be his last run."
Nolan may have a second string to his National bow in talented mare Moskova, although she could run against her own sex at the meeting.
"Moskova also has the option of a mares race but we will certainly have to look at the National for her, especially if Notre Pere runs as she'd get in on a very nice weight," Nolan added.