Sport Horse Racing

Sunday 24 June 2018

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Odds against us but Pairofbrowneyes looks the part in hunt for elusive winner

Our Dougal, with Robbie Power up, jumps the first on the way to winning the BoyleSports Novice Handicap Steeplechase at Fairyhouse yesterday. Photo: Seb Daly/Sportsfile
Our Dougal, with Robbie Power up, jumps the first on the way to winning the BoyleSports Novice Handicap Steeplechase at Fairyhouse yesterday. Photo: Seb Daly/Sportsfile

Patrick Mullins

My grandfather Paddy - 'The Boss' to us - was the man to break Tom Dreaper's monopoly on the Irish Grand National in 1967.

Flyingbolt had won it in '66 and Arkle in '64. Dreaper had won it for seven years in a row before my grandfathers Vulpine broke his incredible winning sequence. A level of dominance neither my father or Gordon Elliot have yet to achieve.

In fact neither have won the race. Which is ironic considering the importance of the race this year in relation to the Trainers' Championship.

A win for Elliot is like us pulling the 'Go straight to jail, do not pass go, do not collect €200' card in Monopoly, it's essentially game over. A win for us is a 'Get out of jail free' card however.

Such is the colossal prize money on offer today that even a second or third could decide the destination of the trophy come the end of Punchestown.

However, with Gordon having thirteen of the thirty runners, the odds are stacked against us.

Our best chance lies with Pairofbrowneyes. He won very impressively at Gowran on very heavy ground, dispelling any stamina doubts.

He only joined us after Christmas and we did wonder had he enough done going to Gowran so I expect him to improve again.

Pairofbrowneyes settles, he jumps, he is proven on the ground, he has a weight south of 11 stone and he is unexposed at long distance trips.

For me, he could give us that elusive Irish National winner and provide us with a vital lifeline in the Trainers' Championship.

Bellshill is the class horse of our quartet. He won a Grade 1 over hurdles and has won a Grade 2 and 3 over fences, including the Bobbyjo Chase at Fairyhouse which was the deciding factor in the horse coming here.

He has limited experience over fences, only five run, so returning to a track where he has winning form is a huge advantage.

However, his latest victory put him up to one from the top in the weights, which makes life very difficult over this marathon trip.

I don't doubt he could prove better than his current mark, but it won't be easy for him today.

Kemboy also has won around Fairyhouse. He ran well in Cheltenham, where jumping errors cost him a top-three finish.

Stormer

Being a novice, he could be unexposed but he will need to have learned a lot from Cheltenham.

Isleofhopeanddreams ran a stormer in the National trial and gets in here with a feather weight. With his light weight and handicap experience, he's capable of running a big race.

I rode Mall Dini in Cheltenham and he jumped and travelled super in first time blinkers.

Perhaps if I knew him better I would have committed him sooner but he ran into a well handicapped horse whose main asset is stamina so I'm not sure it would have changed the result.

After today he will have to carry seven pounds more in future races because of his Cheltenham run. I can see him being heavily involved again.

Un De Sceaux goes in the Grade 2 chase, having been well beaten in Cheltenham. It was strange to see him overtaken a half mile out but still staying in at the end.

Perhaps it was a case of younger legs over taking his aging chassis but I think he just wasn't at his best on the day.

Today is a big drop in class and expect him to regain the winning thread.

PATRICK'S NATIONAL VERDICT

1: Pairofbrowneyes

2: Mall Dini

3: Oscar Knight

4: Folsom Blue

Irish Independent

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