Wednesday 17 January 2018

Alfie Sherrin and Cheltenham star Back In Focus to miss Irish National

Patrick Mullins celebrates on Back in Focus after winning the John Oaksey National Hunt Chase during Ladies Day at the 2013 Cheltenham Festival at Cheltenham
Patrick Mullins celebrates on Back in Focus after winning the John Oaksey National Hunt Chase during Ladies Day at the 2013 Cheltenham Festival at Cheltenham
Cormac Byrne

Cormac Byrne

ALFIE SHERRIN was a surprising absentee at the latest forfeit stage for Monday's Ladbrokes Irish Grand National at Fairyhouse.

Jonjo O'Neill's 10-year-old had been a leading fancy for the Easter Monday showpiece since the weights had been released.

Other notable absentees include the Willie Mullins-trained duo of Back In Focus and Boston Bob, who endured contrasting fortunes at Cheltenham.

Mullins has also taken out Quel Esprit, leaving Quiscover Fontaine, Marasonnien and Away We Go as his only possibles.

The David Pipe-trained Junior now resides at the top of the weights, followed by Tony Martin's novice Dedigout.

Dedigout is owned by Gigginstown House Stud, who could also run Sweeney Tunes, Carry Each Other, Sea Of Thunder, Magnanimity, Carlito Brigante, Romanesco, Toner D'Oudairies, Start Me Up, Panther Claw and Tillahow.

Competitive Edge, Rich Revival and Jadanli are among those still in contention.

There are 51 remaining entries and the maximum field is 30 runners.

Alfie Sherrin is owned by JP McManus and his racing manager Frank Berry explained that a hard race at Cheltenham, where he finished fourth behind Same Difference in the Kim Muir, had left its mark.

"There's nothing major wrong with him, but he just hasn't recovered from Cheltenham," said Berry.

"He had a hard race there.

"It was the intention to run at Fairyhouse so we took him out of Aintree, so he won't be going there either.

"We have Quiscover Fontaine, Carlingford Lough and Competitive Edge left in at Fairyhouse.

"Quiscover could well go to Aintree but the other two will probably run.

"Competitive Edge has won his last two well but this is a big step up in class and he's got a big penalty (14lb)."

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