Boylesports Irish Grand National

Today, all eyes will be on the Boylesports Irish Grand National starting at 5pm. As promised, we have a selection for you. Unfortunately, there is no name given and it will be up to the cryptic solvers out there to guess which horse it is? Our feature picture is the clue. Good luck with whoever you pick and please bet responsibly. 🐎🐴

Here is our clue

Our clue for the Irish Grand National

Tiger Roll heads the market for the Boylesports Irish Grand National

Tiger Roll is the current market leader at 11/2 for the BoyleSports Irish Grand National at Fairyhouse on Easter Monday 5th April 5pm

The connections decided not to go for an historic third victory in the Randox Grand National at Aintree on Saturday week. Tiger Roll is set to run in the Irish equivalent on Monday but is also entered in the Aintree’s Betway Bowl three days later.

Eddie O’Leary, who is the racing manager for the owners Gigginstown House Stud, said following Wednesday’s forfeit stage for the Irish Grand National: “No decision has been made on where Tiger Roll will run yet.

“It will either be the Irish National or the Bowl.”

The hugely popular 11-year-old proved he is no back number with a brilliant display in the Glenfarclas Chase on his latest outing – his third victory in the cross-country event, and a remarkable fifth Cheltenham Festival success overall.

If he does line up at Fairyhouse, however, he will have to concede lumps of weight all round.

Gigginstown have a total of 14 possible runners, with O’Leary adding: “Run Wild Fred and Coko Beach would look the main ones.”

Bryan Cooper partnering Latest Exhibition in the Flogas Novice Chase at Dublin Racing Festival 

Paul Nolan’s stable star Latest Exhibition is also among the confirmations and trades at 7/1, but still has the option of running in the Underwriting Exchange Gold Cup at Fairyhouse 24 hours earlier.

Champion trainer Willie Mullins, who finally broke his Irish Grand National duck with Burrows Saint when the race was last run in 2019, has six remaining contenders – including new recruit Agusta Gold.

Other leading hopes include Joseph O’Brien’s Sempo, Peter Fahey’s The Big Dog and Escaria Ten – who is trained by Denise Foster as are Tiger Roll, Run Wild Fred and Coko Beach. 

The €400,000 contest is supported by three Grade Two events on a quality card.

Noel Meade’s Jeff Kidder, winner of the Boodles Juvenile Handicap Hurdle at Cheltenham, is one of 10 contenders for the Rathbarry And Glenview Studs Juvenile Hurdle – with the unbeaten Teahupoo among his potential rivals.

The Underwriting Exchange Hurdle appears an intriguing affair – with Abacadabras, Beacon Edge and Petit Mouchoir among those in contention.

The third and final Grade Two of the afternoon is the Devenish Chase, for which O’Brien’s Fakir D’oudairies sets the standard.

The JP McManus-owned six-year-old has finished second in three of his four starts this season – most recently chasing home the hugely impressive Allaho in Cheltenham’s Ryanair Chase.

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Taps turned on for the drying conditions at Aintree

Thursday 8th April will be the start of the Randox Grand National meeting at Aintree. With the current spell of weather, watering has commenced on the track to ensure good racing ground.

Following several days of warm weather, the clerk of the course, Sulekha Varma, has opted to water the National and Mildmay courses, due to the current forecast for continuing dry weather.

She stated: “We are watering today – we have put six millimetres on the Grand National course and 10mm on the Mildmay, with the Mildmay good, good to soft in places and the National course good to soft, good in places.

“We’ve had a couple of warm, dry days already this week – and it is forecast to be dry up until Sunday, with only a few showers around.

“We’ll obviously keep watching the forecast, but the aim would be for good to soft ground on the National course and the slow side of good on the Mildmay.

“It has been unseasonably warm this week, but then the forecast is for it to be unseasonably cold by Monday – it is Britain in spring after all.”

Sulekha Varma was appointed as Aintree’s clerk of the course in December 2019 and had been due to command her first Grand National meeting last spring, before the Covid-19 pandemic forced its cancellation.

She is no stranger to the meeting, though, having worked as part of the team at previous Nationals – and hailed the work of the track’s team.

“Had last year gone ahead, this would have been my 11th National as part of the team, so some of it is very familiar,” she added.

“It is very different to be making the decisions and taking the lead rather turning up the day before and being told what to do.

“We have a fantastic team here, and they are just doing what they do best.

“It’s great to be racing this year, and hopefully it can give everyone a bit of a boost to see a top-class sporting event.”

Coronavirus remains a factor in the challenge of horses from outside Britain, but the Aintree team has set up facilities at nearby Haydock Park to house the raiding party.

Both tracks are owned by Jockey Club Racecourses, and protocols established for the Cheltenham Festival will again be in place.

Varma added: “We’re very lucky to have Haydock Park just 20 to 30 minutes away, which is set up and ready to host horses.

“There’s a hotel about a mile away from the track, so we have taken that over – and that will be the Irish bubble.

“Like at Cheltenham, everyone will be tested before travelling over and going home, there will be separate facilities for British and Irish riders at Aintree – and there won’t be any chance to mix.

“It’s just about putting the right protocols in place and keeping everyone safe on both sides.”

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Trainer Barry Connell aiming for the Boylesports Irish National

Trainer Barry Connell has set a target to win the BoyleSports Irish National at Fairyhouse with Espanito Bello. It would be a great achievement in this, his first year as a trainer

Connell’s yellow and blue silks are a familiar sight on Irish racecourses, in fact Connell used to sport them himself for a lot of years.

It was only in July he took out a licence of his own, however, and the man who has seen his colours carried to victory by the likes of Martello Tower, Shinrock Paddy and The Tullow Tank believes the seven-year-old has all the right credentials, having looked a marginally unlucky loser in the Ten Up Novice Chase.

“He’s definitely on track for the National,” said Connell.

“I think he might still have won the Ten Up but for making the mistake at the last, I thought he was just getting the better of the argument at the time.

“The question going there was stamina but he stayed every yard of three miles in heavy ground, prior to that he’d only run over two-three. That showed that he should get the trip, though, and was the deciding factor of going down the National route.

“All his runs have been on soft or heavy ground. As long as there’s no good in the ground I think he’ll be fine, yielding will be fine.”

He added: “Fairyhouse always do a terrific job with the ground for this meeting.

“He’s going the right way and looks to have a bright future. The novices this year look a nice bunch and he’s up there with them.

“A few of the horses he’s beaten before are re-opposing and this has been the target all along since the last day.” 

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