Sport Horse Racing

Tuesday 20 February 2018

Hales targets Irish Grand National for Iconoclast

Anita Chambers

Alex Hales is planning a crack at the Ladbrokes Irish Grand National with recent Ascot winner Iconoclast.

The 10-year-old made an unbelievable recovery to land a listed race at the Berkshire venue last month, managing to keep on his feet after a terrible blunder at the ninth fence.

Jockey Paul Moloney let Iconoclast work his way back into the race and the pair completed their amazing victory with a neck verdict over The Sawyer.

"I was in the restaurant at Haydock and I was shouting at Paul to pull up as we could have a crack at something else the next week," Hales said.

"It was a fantastic ride, though. He didn't panic and just let the horse get back into it. It was a great result for a small yard. I've had some thoughts about plans, but there's nothing concrete yet, it's very much ground dependent.

"I'd like to go over to Fairyhouse for the Irish National, he's rated 136 now and I think he should get in off that and he will definitely stay the trip.

"I've given him a very tentative entry in the bet365 Gold Cup at Sandown, but the ground is usually on the quicker side there.

"There's also the option of a veterans' race at Ascot on April 10, but I would like to go to Fairyhouse with him."

The Midnight Club will be travelling in the opposite direction for the Aintree Grand National and the Willie Mullins-trained gelding is now clear favourite to win the April showpiece.

The son of Flemensfirth -- set to carry 10st13lbs at Aintree -- had been heavily supported prior to his win in the Grade Two Bobbyjo Chase at Fairyhouse last week and Ladbrokes are the latest to cut him to 12/1 outright favourite.

Meanwhile, Dubai World Cup favourite Bold Silvano will miss his final prep race after suffering a slight setback.

The five-year-old created quite an impression when winning round two of the Al Maktoum Challenge at Meydan last month on what was his first Carnival start.

Trainer Mike de Kock had planned to send the South African star for round three of the Maktoum Challenge tomorrow, but those plans have now been scuppered by a bruised foot. As expected, Henry Cecil's Twice Over starts his build-up to the World Cup, in which he finished a disappointing 10th last year, in tomorrow's Maktoum Challenge.

The Marco Botti-trained Gitano Hernando also represents British interests and is due to be ridden by Johnny Murtagh for the first time.

Godolphin have a typically strong squad, with Saeed bin Suroor running Prince Bishop, the mount of Frankie Dettori, while Mahmood Al Zarooni fields Debussy, Eavesdropper and Etched.

Irish Independent

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