Sunday 19 November 2017

Dreaper keen for Goonyella to get shot at National glory

Trainer Dot Love kisses Liberty Counsel after sending it out to win the Ladbrokes Irish Grand National Steeplechase
Trainer Dot Love kisses Liberty Counsel after sending it out to win the Ladbrokes Irish Grand National Steeplechase
Goonyella, with Jamie Flynn up, in Punchestown, Co Kildare

Thomas Kelly

Jim Dreaper is hoping Goonyella will make up for missing out on the Aintree Grand National by landing the Boylesports Irish equivalent at Fairyhouse.

Goonyella was among the reserves for the Aintree National but narrowly missed out on making the field and Dreaper was left to wonder what might have been.

A former hunter chaser, Goonyella has already contested this season's Welsh National behind Mountainous and Dreaper hopes that he and his other entry, Los Amigos, will figure prominently in the Easter Monday showpiece.

"Both are intended runners at this stage, we think that both horses are well and both would be helped by soft ground," explained the veteran trainer.

"It could be for luck (that Goonyellla missed the cut at Aintree), it means that we can go to Fairyhouse with a relatively fresh horse.

"Los Amigos is in good form, we know that he stays three miles well and we are hopeful that he will get three miles and five (furlongs). Just because he stayed three miles it doesn't always follow that they will stay three and a half, but we are hopeful that this fella will."


Classy novice chaser Don Cossack heads the weights after 69 horses were entered for the big race.Gordon Elliott's talented chaser finished second behind Holywell in the Mildmay Novices' Chase at Aintree and will have to concede weight all round if he lines up at Fairyhouse in a fortnight's time.

Recent winner Bog Warrior, which like Don Cossack carries the colours of Gigginstown House Stud, is next in the list on 11st 8lb, along with Saturday's Crabbie's Grand National third Double Seven, trained by Martin Brassil.

There are 11 British-trained contenders, including Paul Webber's Cantlow, Jonjo O'Neill's Shutthefrontdoor and Richard Lee's Welsh National hero Mountainous.

The prestigious three-mile-five-furlong contest is one of the few major prizes to elude champion trainer Willie Mullins and he has a plethora of entries, including Prince De Beauchene, Vesper Bell, Touch The Eden and Away We Go.

Leading jockey Barry Geraghty has also never tasted Irish Grand National glory and hopes this might be his year.

"I've ridden in the race about 15 or 16 times and never won it," said the Meath rider. "I've probably ridden about five or six favourites. I think fifth or sixth is about as good as I've got, it's a race that always eluded me.

"My brother Ross won the race on The Bunny Boiler (2002) and he's never shy about reminding me when he comes back from the States. I don't have standout mount in the race at the moment."

Handicapper Noel O'Brien is impressed with the quality of the race, which was launched at Dot Love's Mullingar yard.

"It's a very strong entry, especially at the top of the handicap," said O'Brien. "At the top end Gigginstown and JP McManus are very dominant.

"The race might suffer a little bit with the proximity to Aintree but that is always the case and the quality of the entry is shown by the fact you'd probably need a rating of about 135 to get in.

"It's a big pot and people want to run in it. We don't have that many long-distance handicap chasers – whether you'll stay is the main question."

O'Brien identified Home Farm and Gallant Oscar, which would both carry 10st 13lb at this stage, as his two to watch.

The race sponsors make Elliott's Cause Of Causes their 10/1 favourite, ahead of Liam Lennon's Foxhunter Chase winner Tammys Hill and Robert Tyner's Daring Article, which are both available at 12/1.

Boylesports' Leon Blanche said: "We are privileged to be sponsoring the race and hopefully we'll get another 50/1 winner. It's the people's race and the last few winners proved that."

Boylesports Irish Grand National, sponsors bet: 10/1 Cause Of Causes, 12/1 Tammys Hill, 12/1 Daring Article, 14/1 The Westener Boy, 14/1 Living Next Door, 14/1 Home Farm, 14/1 Gallant Oscar, 14/1 Shutthefrontdoor, 14/1 Suntiep, 16/1 Spring Heeled, 16/1 Double Seven, 16/1 Goonyella, 16/1 Mullaghanoe River, 16/1 Pass The Hat, 16/1 Pendra, 20/1 bar.

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