New sponsor boost for Irish National
Ladbrokes have taken over sponsorship of the Irish Grand National from next season in a three-year deal worth close to a €1m following the final running of the race under the Powers Whiskey banner.
While the latter company are continuing to support the Powers Gold Cup on Easter Sunday, Ladbrokes are planning to heavily promote the 2011 renewal of the Grand National both here and in their 2,500 British outlets.
One of this country's richest handicap chases backed by Irish Distillers for 40 years is now added to the Ladbrokes portfolio that includes the forthcoming Grade One World Series Hurdle at Punchestown. The firm's Irish boss Joe Lewins remarked: "It is a huge social event of historic importance which we plan to develop even further."
Meanwhile, there's an extra meeting at the Meath venue this afternoon to cater mostly for lesser lights with the exception of the Ballybin Hurdle featuring a rematch from Cheltenham between Prince Erik and Smoking Aces.
Second and sixth respectively to Buena Vista for the Pertemps Hurdle final in the Cotswolds, there could be little enough between them at these weights and in the demanding going that might just favour Prince Erik.
David Casey has made a rapid recovery from his nasty fall here on Monday evening and was passed fit to resume aboard regular partner Boulavogue in this event after a visit to surgeon Paddy Kennedy yesterday morning.
Charlie Swan's often-placed performer should give a good account of himself without perhaps matching the presumed market principals for a finishing kick before his pilot travels on to Aintree.
Even if Tony McCoy doesn't hit the target on Smoking Aces, the all-time British record holder for jumping winners ridden can land the earlier Ratoath Maiden Hurdle on Taking Stock from John Kiely's yard. This six-year-old encountered traffic problems when losing out narrowly at Naas last month and should make amends here as he has shown himself quite adept in the mud already.
The following handicap hurdle is the latest in the Fegentri World Championship series for amateur riders and the prevailing going could help Arthur Moore's An Tarbh Donn open his account.
Meanwhile, last year's Irish Derby winner, Fame And Glory, is among the entries for Sunday's Alleged Stakes at the Curragh and Aidan O'Brien said yesterday that he "might start off" the four-year-old at headquarters, depending on "what way the ground is heading." The Ballydoyle supremo's Alfred Nobel is a possible for the Loughbrown Stakes.