Sport Horse Racing

Friday 23 February 2018

Martin puts his trust in Storm for National bid

Damien McElroy

Local trainer Tony Martin has opted to rely solely on ante-post favourite Saddlers Storm from his four entries in Monday's Powers Whiskey Irish Grand National, which he landed with David's Lad in 2001.

David Casey's mount, which has won his last three races, two of them at the Meath venue, and Paul Nolan's chase maiden Alpha Ridge remain at the head of the betting with most firms for the €250,000 contest.

Last year's runner-up Church Island and third-placed A New Story, back in the winning groove in Cheltenham's Cross-Country event, are joined by Dancing Tornado on behalf of Limerick trainer Michael Hourigan.

Reigning title-holder Willie Mullins, likewise, has a trio of candidates among the maximum field of 30 headed by Siegemaster, with his prime fancy Ballytrim (Paul Townend) accompanied by Equus Maximus and Pomme Tiepy in the hands of Ruby and Katie Walsh.

However, the latter's successful Cheltenham festival mount Poker De Sivola and Galant Nuit were withdrawn yesterday by their Yorkshire trainer Ferdy Murphy due to the prevailing heavy ground.

But the testing conditions haven't frightened off Bob Buckler, triumphant a year ago with Niche Market, as Double Dizzy takes part this time and English colleague Venetia Williams declared both Flintoff and Officier De Reserve.

Meanwhile, sponsors Ladbrokes have installed Cheltenham runner-up Time For Rupert as 3/1 favourite to profit most from the expected absence of dual Cheltenham festival hero Big Buck's from the Punchestown equivalent later this month.

Three of our Cotswolds scorers Berties Dream, Quevega and Thousand Stars have also been entered for the April 22 World Series Hurdle stamina test along with Powerstation and Karabak, which were third and fourth to Big Buck's.

The following afternoon's Rabobank Champion Hurdle is likely to feature a rematch between last season's principals Solwhit and Punjabi, neither of which produced their true form behind Binocular last month.

Irish Independent

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