Farm Ireland

Saturday 26 May 2018

Boylesports boosts Irish National coffers

Rogue Angel on his way to winning the 2016 Irish Grand National
Rogue Angel on his way to winning the 2016 Irish Grand National

The 2017 Irish National is set to be the richest race in Ireland following a generous cash injection by sponsors Boylesports, which has renewed its support for another three years.

Now boasting a prize-fund of €500,000, the winner of this prestigious race will receive €275,000. This was the total sum that was on offer in 2016 but, impressively, the race is now the third richest between Ireland and the UK behind the English Grand National (€1,190,000) and the Cheltenham Gold Cup (€685,000).

Next year's race will take place on Easter Monday during the Easter Festival at Fairyhouse Racecourse from April 16-18. It is widely anticipated that the date will appeal to British trainers as it falls exactly one month after Cheltenham. "The dates really fit in well for next year," commented Fairyhouse manager Peter Roe.

"It's 10 days after Aintree too, so if a horse falls early in the race there, we could get some coming over to Ireland to take on this one. It would be lovely to have some Grade 1 horses over from the UK.

"It is such an iconic race, yet Willie Mullins or Gordon Elliott has yet to win, but we've had so many lovely human stories over the years. Take the Carberry family, with three sibling jockeys winning it, and the Dreapers and Moores have also had wins down through the years.

"We are so happy that this globally renowned race, with such a long and illustrious history, is now truly a huge rival to the greatest National Hunt races today and the €500,000 prize fund places us up there with the likes of the Cheltenham Gold Cup and will definitely attract more and more of the best horses out there - as well as greater crowds, especially from the UK."

The most successful horse in the history of the famous race is Brown Lad, who claimed victory three times, in 1975, 1976 and 1978. He is also the only horse in the last 50 years to have won the Irish Grand National more than once.

Trainer Tom Dreaper holds the best record in the race, winning no less than 10 times, amazingly with 10 different horses. One of these was Arkle in 1964, a horse that became a household name after carrying two stone more than his nearest rival.

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The famous grey horse, Desert Orchid, won the race in 1990 carrying 12st, after winning the Gold Cup a year previously. Jenny Pitman was the first female trainer to win the race in 1997.

The 2015 race was won by the first all-female pair of trainer Sandra Hughes and jockey Katie Walsh - with a horse called Thunder and Roses. Current champion trainer Willie Mullins said: "The Irish Grand National hasn't been the luckiest race for me. I've been placed in it and had some favourites that fell but to have a major prize for handicappers is fantastic. Easter at Fairyhouse is always a traditional meeting that people bring good horses to and this prize will bring back the class horses to this race."

Indo Farming