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Goonyella looks good for the National


Jim Dreaper has high hopes for Goonyella in the Irish Grand National on Monday. Photo: Patrick McCann

Jim Dreaper has high hopes for Goonyella in the Irish Grand National on Monday. Photo: Patrick McCann

Jim Dreaper has high hopes for Goonyella in the Irish Grand National on Monday. Photo: Patrick McCann

The Dreaper name is steeped in Irish Grand National history but in Goonyella, Jim Dreaper could have a real live contender for the Aintree showpiece by tomorrow evening.

The famous Grand National fences will be in use for the Becher Chase at Aintree tomorrow where the runners will try and negotiate the famous obstacles and 3m2f on soft ground but in a race that cases could be made for so many, Goonyella is a horse that stands out.

Owned by Alan and Ann Potts, who have had so much Cheltenham success in the past but would surely love to have a winner over the big fences at Aintree, Goonyella wasn't disgraced when running in the Irish National behind Shutthefrontdoor where he finished seventh at Fairyhouse. And after a prep run over hurdles at Punchestown last month he should be primed for this target.

There are three Irish runners in the race, with previous Irish Grand National winner Lion Na Bearnai and recent Troytown winner Balbriggan both lining up, but a further nine of them started their career over here, so there'll be plenty of interest for Irish punters. Hopefully, Goonyella will make it a rewarding afternoon.

Also at Aintree, we are due to see Holywell for Jonjo O'Neill in the Listed Chase as he bids to put his Gold Cup credentials back on track, while in the Grand Sefton, top weight Rolling Aces may continue the good form of Paul Nicholls who of course celebrated his 100th Grade One winner last weekend with Irving. At Sandown, there is Grade One action to look forward to, with the Tingle Creek taking centre stage.

On the eve of the race, it's certainly hard to say that this is a vintage renewal of the Tingle Creek and there doesn't look to be any Moscow Flyer, Master Minded or Sprinter Sacre in the field, but there is a real intriguing horse in God's Own, who, despite being a Grade One winning novice chaser at the Punchestown Festival, still retains his novice status in England this season as Punchestown was late this year.

The horse for all the money with Boylesports has been Vukovar for in-form trainer Harry Fry and Davy Russell has been booked to ride the five-year-old, who has only had three starts in England, the last of which was at Cheltenham in the JLT when he finished 40 lengths behind Taquin Du Seuil. It would seem safer to stick with God's Own, who had favourite Balder Succes behind last time out at Exeter.

Attention turns from possible Champion Chase contenders in the Tingle Creek to potential Gold Cup hopefuls in the John Durkan at Punchestown on Sunday.

Last season's Gold Cup hero, Lord Windermere, is currently 16/1 to retain his Cheltenham crown, but with Sunday's 2m4f in the Durkan likely to be a shade on the short side for him, he is also as big as 8/1 to get the season off to a winning start.

According to the bookmakers, the Punchestown Grade One looks set to be between the Aintree Grade One and Punchestown Gold Cup winner Boston Bob (7/4) and Gordon Elliott's Don Cossack, who is the current 11/10 favourite and after a couple of confidence boosting wins, Don Cossack is picked to compete the hat-trick.