A FIELD of 30 runners go to post for today’s Irish Grand National and, as it is every year, cases can be made for so many of the runners.
Willie Mullins will be attempting to break his duck in the race with four runners, while last year’s winning trainer, Arthur Moore, again teams up with his niece, Nina Carberry, as they hope Lastoftheleaders emulates Organised-confusion.
Roi Du Mee tops the weights and is one of five horses declared to carry the Gigginstown House Stud colours, and there will also be five of the field in the famous green and gold hoops of JP McManus.
Not since The Bunny Boiler and Ross Geraghty in 2002 has an Irish-based claiming rider won the race and eight of them will try it this year, one of which is amateur Declan Lavery.
A few of those claimers will be really looking forward to their rides, but it is the Mouse Morris-trained Four Commanders who has been all the rage in the betting over the last few days, the mount of the current leading jockey Davy Russell.
Four Commanders carries the colours of the Gigginstown House Stud team who last won the race with Hear The Echo, and a chance is taken that they can win it again here, but maybe not with the more obvious Four Commanders and instead with Start Me Up.
Charlie Swan has got seven-pound claimer Ben Dalton on his eight-year-old, who ran a decent race at Cheltenham in the Kim Muir, but prior to that was on the tails of Four Commanders and Lion Na Bearnai in that famous Grade Two novice at Navan.
A run behind next week’s leading Aintree fancy Seabass and the fact that he was going well when slipping up at Punchestown behind subsequent Eider winner Portrait King, all play into his favour and with a low weight he’s worth the nod.
Roi Du Mee
Had a couple of these in front of him when fifth in the Leinster National at Naas and faces a daunting task with top weight.
Decent novice last season and wasn’t disgraced at Cheltenham last time, but probably up against it here.
Has had just the one run this season and would need to be back to his best to make the shake up here. Others preferred.
Too early to judge how well he was going at Cheltenham in the four-miler when fancied. Is the stable’s first preference and has to be a leading contender considering his Grade One novice form.
Ran a cracking race for the new owner at Cheltenham and would have bigger claims than stable mate Osana but still not quite making the shortlist.
Gift Of Dgab - DOUBT
Has had an up-and-down season, winning his first start over fences well before being beat by decent sort at Plumpton and then being brought down by his stable companion at Christmas. Was no match for Flemenstar last time but none of these would be, and the more rain the bigger chance he has. Lively outsider.
Last year’s winning trainer and jockey team up again and although it may appear the trip is a bit short, never doubt the shrewd training of Moore. Once he stays the trip, he’ll be bang there at the last.
Hasn’t quite fired this season and would have to really come back to form to be anywhere near his second placing in this race last year.
Ran a cracker in the Paddy Power on similar ground and, like the winner that day, hasn’t been seen since. Extra trip unlikely to be a negative.
A faller early on in the Paddy Power, he was last seen winning the JLT Speciality Chase at Cheltenham and is clearly in good form, but needs to come on again.
Looks as though he could be the best backed horse in this race by the off; he was third in the four-miler at Cheltenham after a peach of a ride by |Carberry. Will undoubtedly be well primed for this by top trainer and the champion jockey elect is in the saddle. Little evidence to oppose him.
The Troytown Chase winner had his winning sequence ended but only narrowly when third in the Paddy Power. The extra five furlongs look a big plus and more rain would be as well.
A winner of her last two, she bids to emulate Bluesea Cracker as a mare to win this race, and may run well at a big price after a good win at Leopardstown last time.
Without a win in more than a year, he was 12th in this race last year and hasn’t been within 14 lengths of winning since then.
Mullins claims a valuable seven pounds off here with Lavery, the promising amateur jockey. Hard to make a strong claim on recent form, however.
Hasn’t won since February last year on heavy ground at Fairyhouse but has ran a couple of decent races recently and is one at a big price for a small each-way bet.
Lion Na Bearnai
Caused a shock when having Four Commanders and others behind him in a Navan Grade Two which saw him rise 28 pounds in the weights for that win. He struggled to win off 105, so now racing off 135, it’ll be a tough test.
Very impressive when beating five rivals last time and has a good record at Fairyhouse. Lightly raced since winning at Cheltenham in 2009 and definitely not without his chance.
The rain is a big help to the Paddy Power winner who could take a lot of beating here again. A Punchestown beginners’ chase winner, he ran First Lieutenant to four lengths before finishing third in the Troytown and then reversing that form at Leopardstown last time. Has been freshened up since and has to have a big chance.
Start Me Up
Was third in that Grade Two behind Lion Na Bearnai before finishing fifth at Cheltenham last month. Trainer Charlie Swan’s horses are in good form and his third behind Seabass is notable. Claims.
The Last Derby
Was sixth in the race last year but pulled up last time and will need to recapture the best of his form to be a danger.
After being well beaten in the Thyestes Chase, he has found his form again with |two wins at Naas including the |Leinster National, over 3m, on |soft ground. Has to continue on the upward curve to be involved here, though.
Was fourth but beaten by 19 lengths at Haydock last time and never got into things in the Thyestes. Maybe a bit of better ground will help his cause, but others preferred.
Third in the race two years ago but 13th last year and recent form makes him hard to back.
A winner over hurdles on St Patrick’s Day so clearly back to form, but has a lot on his plate with some of these.
Only one run since finishing ninth in this race last year and hard to make a strong case for him.
A winner over 2m4f back in November, he dropped back in trip before being upped again to 2m4f and 2m5f, the latest start coming when second to Seabass, albeit well beaten at |Leopardstown. Big price for an |each-way bet.
Pulled up in last year’s race and |went the point-to-point route to |start off this season. Good runs |behind both Seabass and Salisfy in |that sphere but concerning that he has failed to complete this race in the past two years.
Ran well at Cheltenham and does |have claims if his jumping holds up, but that would be a question mark.
In off a lovely weight, he may run a decent race if everything falls right for him, but that has to happen.