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Surge has bookies on Garde

Sponsors Ladbrokes make the Christy Roche-trained and JP McManus-owned. Groody Hill their 8/1 favourite for Easter Monday's Irish Grand National at Fairyhouse, for which the weights were revealed yesterday.

Senior National Hunt handicapper Noel O'Brien predicted the improving novices as the danger horses in this year's race and such horses are likely to include Willie Mullins' Allee Garde, Mouse Morris' Four Commanders and Tony Martin's Gift Of Dgab.

Indeed, it was Allee Garde who Hayley O'Connor of Ladbrokes reported to be the first to receive decent money following the pricing up of the race.

The bookmakers representative said: "Allee Garde was backed almost immediately as we released our prices but being such a competitive renewal we're not going to react too hastily."

JP McManus last won the Irish National Hunt showpiece with Butlers Cabin back in 2007 and his only previous win in the race prior to that was in 1983 with Bit Of A Skite, trained by Edward O'Grady, who also has one of McManus' leading chances in this year's renewal as Catch Me looks an intended runner off 10st 13lbs.

As well as Troytown Chase winner and now Grand National favourite Groody Hill, the famous green and gold colours may be carried by Cheltenham Festival winner Alfie Sherrin, who is one of eight UK-trained horses in the 69 entries.

The weights are headed by Ted Walsh's Seabass, but he remains on course for the Aintree equivalent, while last year's winner, Organisedconfusion, has been handed 11st4lbs for this year's race and looks set to bypass Aintree in favour of another tilt at Fairyhouse.

Groody Hill hasn't been seen since finishing third in the Paddy Power Chase at Leopardstown over Christmas and that was behind Noel Meade's Cross Appeal who is one of four Meade entries in the race.

Cross Appeal was the recipient of seven pounds from Groody Hill that day, but on this occasion is set to carry just two pounds less with 10st 7lbs his allotted weight.


A number of horses hold multiple entries for both the Irish and English National including some of Willie Mullins' nine inclusions which are headed by Apt Approach.

Michael O'Leary's Gigginstown Stud are also responsible for a number of entries, and O'Leary's racing manager and brother, Eddie, said: "We will hopefully run Magnanimity who has really come back to himself recently and Start Me Up is another likely runner as are Gates Of Rome and Crash who both could run at Limerick on Sunday first."

Trainer Jim Dreaper has won the race four times already and recent Navan winner Cadogan is his representative in this year's renewal.

Dreaper said: "We have had some leg trouble with him but we are delighted to have won some races with him over the years. The National has such a great prize on offer that we had to go for it, but he will obviously be very ground dependent."

Of his likely runners, Meade pinpointed Cross Appeal as Paul Carberry's likely ride in the race and the local trainer added: "Cross Appeal is in really good form, we don't mind if the rain stays away for him or Fisher Bridge, but we would only run Medical Card if the ground came up on the soft side."

The action at Fairyhouse on Easter Sunday will host the Powers Gold Cup which looks set to be one of the strongest renewals of the race in many years.

Peter Casey's Irish Arkle winner Flemenstar will face a maximum of 15 rivals for the race, including the very progressive Rathlin and Willie Mullins' Call The Police who ran a cracking race at the Cheltenham Festival earlier this month.

Irish Grand National - Ladbrokes Bet: 8 Groody Hill, 10 Alfie Sherrin, 10 Cross Appeal, 10 Organisedconfusion, 12 Four Commanders, 12 Giles Cross, 12 The Midnight Club, 14 Allee Garde, 14 Cappa Bleu, 14 Lastoftheleaders, 14 Master Overseer, 14 Ninetieth Minute, 14 Quiscover Fontaine, 14 Seabass, 14 Smoking Aces, 14 Up The Beat, 16 Aigle D'Or, 16 Another Palm, 16 Apt Approach, 16 Cadogan, 16 Gift Of Dgab, 16 Glam Gerry, 16 Leanne, 16 Lion Na Bearnai, 16 On The Fringe, 16 Out Now, 16 Paddy Pub, 16 Prince Erik, 16 Rou Du Mee, 16 Shakervilz, 16 Start Me Up, 16 Western Charmer, 20 Arabella Boy, 20 Arbour Supreme, 20 Bishopsfurze, 20 Catch Me, 20 Crash, 20 Daffern Seal, 20 Le Beau Bai, 20 Magnanimity, 20 Medical Card, 20 Osana, 20 Psycho, 20 Some Target, 25 Ad Idem, 25 Done Deal, 25 Fisher Bridge, 25 Gates Of Rome, 25 Our Victoria, 25 Raptor, 25 Rivage D'Or, 25 Saddlers Storm, 25 Tharawaat, 25 Whodoyouthink, 33 Ainama, 33 Beckett Rock, 33 Midnight Haze, 33 Mister Top Notch, 33 The Last Derby, 33 Tullintain, 33 Vic Venturi, 33 Whatuthink, 33 Your Busy, 40 Beroni, 40 Tally Em Up, 50 Cottage Oak, 50 Give Us A Hand, 50 Wicklow Lad, 66 Strongpoint (1/4 odds 1, 2, 3, 4)