'Sound' still out of National field
Beautiful Sound, which has headed the market for the Ladbrokes Irish Grand National since the weights were first revealed for the Easter Monday showpiece 10 days ago, still isn't guaranteed to get into the race following the latest forfeit stage yesterday.
As low as 9/2 with one firm for the highlight of Fairyhouse's three-day festival, the Gordon Elliott-trained nine-year-old is now number 32 on the list. With a maximum of 25 allowed to take part, that means Beautiful Sound's fate won't be known until after the final declarations are made tomorrow morning.
The Gigginstown Stud-owned gelding, twice a winner at the Co Meath venue already, finished a staying-on third in the Byrne Group Plate at Cheltenham in March, and the €250,000 handicap has been his primary target since then.
"We were 64th in the list when the weights came out," Elliott said yesterday, "so we are getting closer. But we're not there yet. Beautiful Sound is in good nick and we want to run him. Hopefully a few more will come out to make that possible."
In all, 51 were left in the race yesterday, with Eoin Griffin's The Last Derby currently the last horse guaranteed a run. Griffin confirmed that his seven-year-old, last seen finishing third in the Cork Grand National in October, would run at Fairyhouse rather than in Saturday's Bet365 Gold Cup at Sandown.
Synchronised, one of eight JP McManus-owned entries, tops the weights off 11st 8lb, while Dermot Weld, who saddled Perris Valley to win the prestigious 3m 5f contest in 1988, is set to rely on Prince Erik following Majestic Concorde's withdrawal.
"The better the ground, the better he will like it," Weld said. "The plan is to run and I have booked Davy Condon, who won on him at Naas last month."
Of the going, Peter Roe, acting manager at Fairyhouse, reported: "With no significant rain forecast before the weekend, we are currently putting 6mm on the track and the situation is being continually monitored as we aim to produce good National Hunt ground."
Michael Hourigan, whose A New Story needs three to come out of the National if he is to feature for a sixth year in a row, revealed yesterday that Church Island will tackle the Bet365 Gold Cup.
A 20/1 winner of the Sandown Grade Three in 2010, Church Island is likely to be left with top-weight on Saturday, as Dessie Hughes' Siegemaster, the current highest-rated entrant, is doubtful.
Hourigan also confirmed that Mr Cracker, an impressive winner at Limerick three weeks ago, is on target for the Grade One Powers Gold Cup at Fairyhouse on Sunday.
Meanwhile, Jessica Harrington and Aidan O'Brien are the only Irish-based trainers left with entries in next week's Guineas races at Newmarket following yesterday's forfeit for the Flat season's opening Classics.
Harrington's Pathfork and O'Brien's Roderic O'Connor, second and third in the betting behind Frankel for the colts' race, are the pick of the four Irish entries that stood their ground in the 2,000 Guineas.
Thirty horses, 11 more than in the colts' Group One, remain in the fillies' equivalent.
Harrington's Laughing Lashes is among them, as are five from the Ballydoyle outfit.