Saturday 26 May 2018

Geraghty links up with O'Neill for National

Alan Berry riding Shutthefrontdoor on their way to victory at Ascot
Alan Berry riding Shutthefrontdoor on their way to victory at Ascot
Richard Forristal

Richard Forristal

Barry Geraghty will team up with Jonjo O'Neill and JP McManus in his quest to secure an elusive Irish National victory aboard Shutthefrontdoor at Fairyhouse on Monday.

A full field of 30 has been declared for the Boylesports-sponsored event, and the absence of Tony McCoy – sidelined by a four-day whip ban that he incurred on Willie Mullins' Diakali at Aintree – has paved the way for Geraghty to resume his sporadic link with O'Neill.

Geraghty combined with O'Neill and McManus to thwart the McCoy-ridden At Fisher's Cross on More Of That in the World Hurdle at Cheltenham, and punters have latched on to his booking, with Shutthe-frontdoor slashed from 20/1 to as low as 12/1.

McManus has six runners in all, including all four cross-channel hopefuls. His Paul Webber-trained Cantlow tops the weights on 11st 7lb under Andrew McNamara, who won the race aboard Bluesea Cracker in 2010.

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O'Neill's Alfie Sherrin will be ridden by Will Kennedy and Charlie Longsdon's Pendra by Noel Fehily, while McManus' regular rider Mark Walsh is on Gordon Elliott's Cause Of Causes. Home Farm, third last year for Arthur Moore, remains the market leader with most firms, while Goonyella (12/1) is also proving popular.

Tom Gibney's 2012 hero Lion Na Bearnai is in the field, and Mullins has turned to Katie Walsh for last year's runner-up Away We Go to secure his first win in the €250,000 contest, with Paul Townend aboard in-form novice Touch The Eden.

The going at the Co Meath venue remains good to yielding. However, Mullins has expressed reservations about conditions after his leading chaser Arvika Ligeonniere picked up a leg injury there earlier on soft ground this month.

"I'm very worried about the ground at Fairyhouse," Mullins said. "(Arvika Ligeonniere) got injured there the last day after putting in an exhibition of jumping, so I'm disappointed with that. I doubt it now if he'll be back. It might be the end of the road for him."

Irish Independent

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