No less than six of the 25 confirmed starters today for the inaugural running of the Irish Grand National under the Ladbrokes banner on Easter Monday are owned by Limerick’s jumping supremo JP McManus with five of them figuring in the top eleven weight-wise.
Triumphant previously with Bit Of A Skite (1983) and Butler’s Cabin in 2007, the latter’s trainer Jonjo O’Neill has declared both top weight Synchronised which won the Welsh Grand National last December and last month’s Cheltenham casualty Sunnyhillboy for him now.
Lambourn-based Nicky Henderson, yet to taste success in the traditional highlight of Fairyhouse’s Easter Festival, rows in for McManus with the novice Quantitativeeasing, runner-up to Divers in handicap company at Cheltenham, with the other half of JP’s sextet made up of the Willie Mullins-trained Quiscover Fontaine, See U Bob for Paul Nolan and Glenstal Abbey from the Charlie Swan stable.
Local handler Gordon Elliott’s ante-post favourite Beautiful Sound for Michael O’Leary’s Gigginstown House Stud is not yet guaranteed to make the maximum 25-stong field for this 140th renewal, having come in as second reserve behind Pomme Tiepy.
Or Noir De Somoza is the fourth English-based confirmation for the €250,000 Ladbrokes promotion and his trainer David Pipe whose father Martin took the prize with Omerta in 1991 will be hoping for better luck with this French-bred on Monday than when exiting early on in Aintree.
Willie Mullins surprisingly hasn’t enjoyed an Irish Grand National victory yet so the Irish champion likewise seeks a change of fortune at Fairyhouse with three confirmed participants – Quiscover Fontaine, Shakervilz and Some Target as well as first reserve Pomme Tiepy.
Going-wise the ground remains good with an excellent covering of grass and watering is continuing to produce safe National Hunt ground. There is some rain forecast during the next 24 hours but afterwards the weather is expected to be fine and sunny again for the three-day Easter Festival.
“I’m delighted with the quality of the entries for the first running of the Ladbrokes Irish Grand National. The weather has been very favourable and we are looking forward to hosting a bumper crowd during the three days of the festival. We would advise patrons to come early as there are many attractions off the track to be enjoyed including the Carton House Hotel Most Stylish Lady competition on Easter Monday judged by former Miss World Rosanna Davison and world-renowned Irish musician Liam O’Connor and his dancers on stage.” said Acting Manager Peter Roe.
Hayley O’Connor of Ladbrokes said: “Beautiful Sound remains our market leader despite being second on reserve for the race. It’s possible that between now and Monday we could see withdrawals, in which case we feel Elliot’s horse would be the one to beat.”
O’Connor added: “Our non-runner money back offer has never been more relevant.”